Forget those designated trails--back-country terrain is where real sports enthusiasts are trekking. And with natural occurrences such as avalanches, hail storms and bear attacks common on these untrodden paths, products and services geared toward safety and survival are in great demand. Safety courses, first-aid kits and avalanche safety equipment prove attractive to the "out-of-bounds" skiers, riders and climbers of the world.
Such demand has also enticed entrepreneurs to turn their rough drafts into realities. For instance, David Weiss, 60, a project director for Salinas, California's Monterey Bay Regional Partnership, a federally funded group providing work experience for students, designed and markets the Sierra Survival Scarf for Santa Cruz, California-based Pacific Venture Outdoor Products. The scarf lists life-saving information such as weather patterns and water-procurement techniques directly on the cloth. And Tom Crowley, 62, a psychiatry professor at the University of Colorado in Denver and a back-country skier, invented the AvaLung, distributed by Salt Lake City's Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., a vest equipped with a filtration device that draws fresh air directly from suffocating avalanche-caused snowpacks. "My state has the [country's] highest mortality rate from avalanches," says Crowley. "All of us here are concerned about it, so I [thought] of a way to help reduce the risk."
Just keep in mind, these items won't pre-vent disasters--in fact, any outdoor adventurer should know that the most important thing to bring on a back-country enterprise is common sense.