One of my constant companions. A whistle. A WindStorm Whistle to be exact. A cheap, effective, lightweight, dependable emergency signaling device. Don’t leave home without one. I mean it.
In a recent article about a lost hiker in the Mount Hood area I mentioned some basic gear that everybody should carry all the time and as I set up the links to articles I had written previously about those items I realized that I had never written one specifically on whistles. My bad.
I grew up on a football field, literally. My dad was a football coach and it was my job much of the time to blow the ball dead or signal a change from one drill to another based on the practice schedule so I always had a whistle on a lanyard around my neck. The preferred model at that time was the Acme Thunder Whistle which is the sterotypical metal coaches whistle with a pea inside. It is a classic and still the best for athletics in my opinion. Mine is 35 years old now and I am stilling using it on a daily basis during our seasons. Works as good now as it ever did.
As much as I like the Acme Thunder it is not my choice for wilderness work. For that I use a plastic Storm Whistle. Storm makes two sizes that are available in either black or orange. I prefer the smaller one which is called the WindStorm because it is a little more compact and lays flatter against my chest (especially when I am wearing a radio harness or chest rig) but it is just as loud. The Windstorm has an undulating or warbling tone that is lower and more detectable in my experience which is why I choose it over others on the market.
Storm says that it is the loudest whistle in the world and that it is SOLAS certified, I just know it works.
Now, why a whistle. Simple. It is something so small and lightweight that you can keep it with you all the time which means you will have it when you need it. Most importantly, it is very effective at signaling in all conditions. A whistle is louder, carries farther and lasts longer than a human voice.
I made my kids carry one on every camping trip we ever took, I carried one on every mission I ever performed and there is no reason you shouldn’t have one hanging around your neck every time you leave the truck headed for the boonies. Period.
Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.
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