196: Lightning Safety

Show Notes: Episode 196  8/14/2018

Today on the First 40 Miles, I was wondering what today’s episode should be about… and then it struck me.   Today we’ll chat about lightning safety.  Nothing shocking.  We promise to conduct ourselves appropriately.  Then ya’ll get to hear a little story from Steve about his friend’s top secret backpacking spot.  Next, we’ll test some backpacking energy bars and wrap it up with a great resource from National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) on everything you ever wanted to know about backcountry lightning safety.


  • Suggestion from listeners: lightning safety
  • Lightning is common in summertime
  • A little data about backcountry lightning
  • Amazing lightning facts

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Being Hit by Lightning

Watch the Weather

  • Lightning storms are not surprises
  • You can usually see/hear them coming

Take Lightning Seriously

  • Lightning data…it’s power
  • Thunder warning
  • Not a time to be a storm chaser or nature photographer

If you have time, find a safer place

  • Avoid exposed terrain
  • Avoid single trees
  • Avoid conductors
  • Bridges, metal poles, train tracks, standing water (but not damp ground)
  • Focus on what’s going to make the biggest impact if there is a strike near you
  • 1 second = 1/5 mile away

Get down!

  • Lightning position
  • Both shod feet on ground, close together
  • Everything tucked in
  • You’re trying to be as short and compact as possible, with your rubber soled feet together on the ground

Stay at least 50 feet away from your friends (during a storm)

  • You can probably figure out why…it reduces multiple injuries

Challenge:  Take time today to get into the Lightning Position.  It’s similar to the Asian Squat we talked about on a past episode.  Doing a flat footed squat is pretty hard.  It requires some practice and balance.  It’s a position you should revisit regularly!

Interesting Facts About the Natural Squatting Position

Listener Story

Steve’s story… Secret camping spot

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Skout Backcountry Bars


  • Bars, plant-based protein bars, pumpkin seeds
  • Whole, natural, organic ingredients


  • High energy, organic bars


  • Varies



  • $2-3 bar


  • Not overly sweet
  • All bars and pepitas have a natural, subtle flavor, which is great for avoiding flavor fatigue
  • All organic + whole food ingredients
  • Great selection of unique flavors
  • Nutritionally dense + calorically dense!


Backpack Hack of the Week™:  NOLS Lightning Safety PDF

Trail Wisdom

“The mountain doesn’t care…”

  • S+R
  • Climbing saying, objective dangers

If you’re looking for fun backpacking books and merch, check out TheFirst40Miles.com/shop.  We’ll see you next time on The First 40 Miles.