Stewardship Safety and Technology

Table of Contents:

  1. What to Wear
  2. What to Bring
  3. Check Out and In
  4. Technology

What to Wear

Suggested clothing for stewarding in a variety of situations includes the following:

  • Moisture wicking undershirt: Synthetic fabrics, like polypropylene or polyester, or wool
  • Moisture wicking pants: Synthetic fabrics or wool
  • Long sleeve shirt: Synthetic fabric (moisture wicking and SPF recommended)
  • Hooded shell jacket and pants: For wind and water protection
  • Hat and/or bandana: to reduce sun exposure
  • Socks: light or heavy wicking hiking socks, depending on weather
  • Boots: Hiking boots with good support and tread. Sneakers are not recommended on uneven terrain or off trail hikes!
  • Gaiters (optional): to keep stickers, water, and rocks out of your boots
  • Hiking gloves (optional): to protect hands while scrambling and to keep hands warm
  • Personal Emergency Information Form: to have on your person in the event of an emergency

The following link has advice on everything from choosing the right hiking boots to how to treat insect stings and bites:  . Please note that this website is neither maintained or endorsed by NSHPO.

What to Bring

What are the absolute site visit essentials?  Download our comprehensive list of the must have stewarding supplies here:  Remember, some necessities depend on where you are going, in what season, and how long your adventure will be.

Check Out and In

All stewards are required to check-out with at least one, if not two, designated people prior to visiting their site and check back in once they return. For most stewards, their check-out/in person is someone at home who will notice their absence should they not return by a designated time. However, some agencies have specific procedures for checking out and in, the stewards should be informed of this during their initial site visit.

Prior to your site visit, please provide a fully completed Check Out/In Emergency Contact Page and the appropriate agency Emergency Check Out/In Emergency Contact Numbers to your designated person when checking out. This paperwork should include:

  • The general route and approximate destination
  • Expected time of return
  • Information about monitor partners
  • Vehicle information
  • Emergency medical information
  • Who to contact if you do not return by the expected time


Need new copies of this Checkout/in documentation? Please send an email to srubinson[@] 


As site stewards, the NSSP does not require you to have navigation technology nor rescue communication devices. During your initial site visit, you are guided to your site and then given easy-to-follow maps and directions for future visits. However, we do recommend you purchase and learn how to use devices such as GPS apps on your smartphone, handheld GPS units, personal locator beacons, satellite messengers and/or ham radio.

Please note that these companies, devices, and webpage links are neither endorsed nor maintained by the NVSHPO.

Handheld GPS Units:

GPS Units are used to (1) tell you where you are (2) tell you where you are going (3) tell you where you have been and (4) how far you are from your destination. They are designed to be used outdoors and are very durable.

For an extensive breakdown of choices and an introduction to basic GPS use, visit the links below:

GPS units are durable, have long battery life, high level of accuracy, and provide long term data storage. You can change the coordinate system, upload new locations from different sources, and they work internationally. GPS units have a large initial cost, the set-up takes a little work, batteries are purchased separately, and you may need some training to learn how to use it.

The NSSP provides occasional GPS training classes several times a year and can provide do one-on-one training upon request. Contact the NSSP srubinson[@] to request training. 

Smartphone GPS Apps:

Smartphone GPS Apps are designed to make your smartphone function like a handheld GPS. In theory, they (1) tell you where you are (2) tell you where you are going (3) tell you where you have been, and (4) how far you are from your destination.

A few of these apps make it possible to take, share, and map GPS points. A cheaper alternative to purchasing a GPS unit and it is always with you. Smartphones are not very durable. The apps may not be accurate and may not display or allow you to change the coordinate system. using. There may be costs associate with the app and it may only work where cell service is available. Many of these apps also use a large amount of your phone’s battery.

Here is a summary of the current smartphone apps on the market: 

Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) / Satellite Messenger (SM):

These devices are designed to allow you to send an SOS via satellite to emergency services for the rescue.

Personal Locator Beacons

PLBs work in remote areas, have long battery life, need to be registered, and have no subscription fees. PLBs do not allow for communication besides SOS and may not have international coverage.


Satellite Messengers:

SMs have worldwide coverage, rechargeable batteries, and may also include GPS features. SMs require subscriptions to send and receive non-emergency messages and SOS.

To see a full breakdown of the two and a list of devices download the following: 

Amateur (Ham) Radios:

A handheld radio that can be used by a licensed amateur radio operator to call for help using emergency frequencies with a range of about 100 miles.

Reliable and relatively easy to use once you are licensed; not limited to character text constraints; considerably more affordable versus other options (starting at about $100 for a radio device). You must be licensed to use these radios. The radios are bulky, have limited battery power, and require specialized training.

To get training and take the licensing exam please visit the National Association of Amateur Radio (ARRL) website: 

Further information about Licensing can be found on the Federal Communications Commission’s site: 

Tips: Be sure to check with local park rangers or wilderness experts about the available repeater networks and local terrain in the area where you will be exploring.