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How to Ford a River In the Backcountry

How to Ford a River
Written by Robert Miles
Last Update: August 23, 2021

A friend once narrated a story about one of his most dangerous and adventurous hiking experience. When he was telling his skills, it was like I saw the scenario. The most exciting and thrilling part of his hiking experience was to ford the river.

Fording a river is the most challenging part in our opinion, and most of the hikers agree with us. With their sharing experience and our expertise about fording rivers, we have decked this article for you.

How to Ford a River Safely

What should you do before fording a river?

Now you have reached near the river. Do you want to dive into it? Then what about your packing’s? Don’t be hurry to ford the river. It may cost you. So, before you ford a stream or a river you should do some critical job to make you and your team safe.

What should you do before fording a river

Research the Area First

It is vital to understand the area to make your plan. See through the river banks, water flow, things in the river and so on. You may see the river is clear, no rock and tree parts are being, or you may see the river with all these elements. No matter what you see, check the area from where you should ford the river. Fording the river from the widest and shallow point is smart. So, find the point and mark it.

Examine the Water Current

It is the most important job before you ford the river. To see the river current, put your trekking pole into the water. Watch how hard it is to hold it. If you see it is tough to hold, definitely know the water current is high. If it is comfortable to hold, water current is low.

Now, it’s time to feel it with your foot. It is more important than checking with the trekking pole. Your foot has to endure the current. When you check the current, keep in mind that the water’s various layers move at different speed.

The top water layer moves fast than the lower layer part. The fastest current you will face in the top layers below portion. And the slowest current you will feel next to the bottom layer. So, if you see the difference between the current is very high, don’t ford the river.

Plan How to Ford the River

After you mark the fording point and check the water current, plan to ford the river. Do you want to ford the river alone or with our team? If you’re going to ford alone, then how should you prepare yourself? You want to ford with your team then how should your ford? Do you want to adopt the tripod or group chain/interlock fording? Remember, always make a plan B, it will help you in the disastrous situations. Once you decide, it is time for you to ford the river.

The Vital Rules to Ford the River

There are no bible rules to ford the river. But keep in mind, it is a hard one and sometimes life-threatening. So, when it is time for river fording, you have some dos and don’t dos to follow. Let’s look at that part.

The Vital Rules to Ford the River

Dos of River Fording

When someone river fords, it is like crossing a desert without any camel or channel. So, when you ford the river, ford it very carefully and follow these essential steps below.

  • Put off your hiking shoes if it is not suitable to use underwater. Use your water shoes or old pair of tennis shoes instead.
  • Tie your hiking shoes together and wrap them around your neck or throw them another side of the river if the river is narrow. It will lessen your packing.
  • Use your trekking pole for balancing your foot.
  • Slowly move your foot and shuffle it to cross the river.
  • Slightly lose your waist and sternum straps on your pack so that if get knocked you may release it quickly.

Don’t Dos of River Fording

It is more important to follow the don’t dos part. Because if you follow the don’ts part, you may have already finished reading the Dos part.

  • Don’t rush when you ford the river. If you hurry, you may fall or knocked out on the river.
  • Don’t hesitate to come back if the current is high. It is better to wait than causing harm to yourself.
  • Don’t ford the river barefoot. It will cause injury.
  • Don’t ford the river by swimming. You may get injured if you ignore the current and harmful elements in the river.
  • Don’t use a rope when you team crossing the river. If anyone from the team knocked out in the river, there is huge chance that all will be knocked out too.

Well, you have reached at the end. We want you to be safe. So, when you ford the river, ford it carefully. Follow the above instructions which are recommended by expert hikers and sufferers.

About the author

Robert Miles

An Avid Backpacker

Robert is a smart backpacker. It’s what I feel proud of hearing from those I know. Brainstorming some ideas, packing whatever comes to knowledge, jumping on a bus/plane, landing somewhere totally unknown, and completing a journey amid fear, restlessness, scarcity, and tiredness are what many backpackers do. But that’s not my type. I go on adventures several times a year but not without doing my homework because I want to enjoy my time out in the middle of somewhere rather than worrying about my whereabouts. I also wish all of my fellows, known and unknown, to know before they leap. Feeling excited? Check out my tips and guides!

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