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Minus33's Search and Rescue Kit Program: Giving Back to New Hampshire

Promoting Safety in the Outdoors

Hikers and outdoor adventurers are at the mercy of mother nature and risk being caught out in nature unprepared. Unexpected weather conditions, accidental injuries, and more have happened to the best of us. The most common emergency hikers encounter is an unexpected night on the mountain. Here in New Hampshire, if you’re caught out in an emergency and call for help, NH Fish and Game will be out to rescue you. 

The New Hampshire Fish and Game conducts an average of 190 search and rescue missions annually for victims ranging from hikers to climbers and more (NHF&G). Our local Search and Rescue groups are all volunteer based, with extensive training and experience in the White Mountains and beyond.

In 2003, in response to high volumes of rescues, NH developed the hikeSafe program - “a joint program between the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHF&G).” This program aims to educate hikers and outdoor enthusiasts before they head outside, by recommending gear and the 10 Essentials you should have in your pack no matter what.

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Giving Back to New Hampshire

Minus33 became an official cooperator with hikeSafe in 2017 after hearing that many volunteers were donating their own extra gear and warm clothing to those in danger on rescues. We recognized there was a need for spare clothing the volunteers could carry out on rescue missions to help keep rescuees warm while they are being transported off the trails or mountains. We began donating what we call “Search and Rescue” kits to help first responders while minimizing waste by repurposing gently used or out-of-spec merino garments. 

A kit includes a long sleeve shirt, wool long johns, socks, a piece of headwear, and gloves to help keep people warm while they are being rescued. These pieces are taken from customer returns, donations, and quality-tested items, pieces that would have been recycled in other ways. They now have a more helpful purpose and have been crucial in many rescues in winter conditions where warm clothing was necessary.

The program is now in its fifth year of donations and we’ve provided hundreds of SAR kits to search-and-rescue operations, state police, and game wardens in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont and as far as Alaska, Alabama, and Colorado.

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Customers are also encouraged to donate their products back to Minus33 when it’s reached the end of its life. We inspect your donation to determine if it can still be worn by someone in need of warm clothing. We then refurbish those pieces into our Search and Rescue kits which could help save a life! Read more about donating your used gear here.

“This is a program we’re hoping to expand. It’s something we believe needs support beyond New England and we’re happy to donate our resources,” says President Lawson Glidden. “We’re actively accepting applications from Search and Rescue organizations nationwide to receive our wool kits. We want to give back and continue to help educate outdoor enthusiasts about recreating safely in the outdoors and being prepared for anything.”

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Qualified programs include regional search and rescue groups, state fish and wildlife agencies, and other groups and are encouraged to fill out the application to request kits here.


Written by Meaghan Ruby

Photos 1& 2 and header provided by Three Peaks Media.

Photo 3 provided by Corey McMullen.