avalanche instructor on an avalanche education course.

Welcome!  This page is a hub for Outdoor Safety related content to act as a resource for the Montana State University community.

We live in a wonderful place for water recreation. With the Gallatin River, Madisson River, Jefferson River, and the Yellowstone all within an hour drive it is a playground for the white water river folks. However, white water recreation tends to be dangerous. We have collected some resources for you to up your education and provide you with some information to have an enjoyable day on the river.  

Basics and Preparation  

ABC's of a PFD - Wearing a PFD (personal flotation device) is the easiest way to secure a safe day on the river.  This website, hosted by NRS, gives you the basics of a PFD. Including the different types, what type is appropriate for what activity and the proper way to wear it. Honestly, please put one on.  

Cold Water Layering - Recreating in the water is different from all other types of layering because cold water brings the body temperature down drastically. Here is a resource to help you to layer so that you will be warm throughout the day.   

Boating Safety  - NRS presents “the five golden rules” of boating safety. Starting with always wearing a lifejacket/PFD. It is worth a read for anyone from experienced white water folks to those who are looking to get out there for the first time.  

 National Weather Service  - Always check the weather before you go. The temperature can heavily affect your day. Look ahead of time so you are prepared.   

 American White Water - American White Water is a place to gain information about unfamiliar rivers to you in the area. Again, always check before you go for updates on rivers, their water level and run-ability. This is a great resource for you! 

Rescue Resources  

Swift Water Rescue Classes Near You - It is always in your best interest to educate yourself on rescue techniques used specifically for white water. This NRS website can help you to find a class near you. MSU Outdoor Rec also hosts a Swift Water Rescue course in the spring open to students.  

Throw bags – Throw bags are a common technique in setting up a safety zone for you and your white water partners below is how to use the equipment.  

Throwing a Throw Bag  

Catching a Throw Bag  

Stuffing a Throw Bag  

Coiling Throw Rope  

More Throw Bag Techniques  

Foot Entrapment - Foot Entrapment is a major hazard to white water recreators. Learn what it is and how to easily prevent this hazard on the river for you and your partners.  

It’s still possible to recreate and enjoy the outdoors even in the chilly Montana winters! Here are some tips for preparing yourself well for a safe and fun time in the snow :) 

Layering for the unexpected:  

  • As a general rule, it is always wise to bring along many more layers than you may initially think necessary.  
  • Avoiding cotton and constricting clothing will serve you well as you get clothing sweaty and allow for adequate blood flow which is crucial in keeping warm. 
  • Mittens, hats, and extra socks will ensure that you are preventing any unnecessary heat loss as well as keeping you dry, functional and happy!  



In Bozeman, and most of Montana, we are in bear country. Meaning that where we live, there are bears. Use these resources below to learn how to manage the risk of a bear encounter. If you would like to learn more, make sure to check out our bear safety clinics, held most weeks during the fall semester at the MSU Outdoor Rec Center.  

Bear Clinic Schedule 

Some ways to easily prevent a bear encounter is: 

  1. To travel in groups of 3 or more.  
  1. Make lots of noise (bears have the same hearing capabilities as humans, so if you can’t hear your group coming neither can the bear). 
  1. Always carry bear spray, read the directions on the bottle, carry it so that it is quickly accessible to you and check the expiration date.  

Montana Fish, Wildlife, Parks-  A great resource for general information on recreation in bear country; contains resources for traveling in bear country as a camper, hiker, angler, mountain biker, and farmer  

Bear Safety and Food Storage - Storing your food properly is one of the most important ways to prevent bear encounters. This resource shows some common ways to store food that are appropriate and effective. Always check the regulations for the area before you go! 

 Bear Spray and Bear Education Training in 360 - This video is brought to you by the USDA forest Service and suggested to the MSU ORP by a bear specialist for our bear clinics. This resource includes loads of information on bear behavior and the appropriate human behavior if you were to encounter a bear. It is a 12-minute-long video with interactive information on bear encounters. Remember that there are ways to prevent bear encounters and this information is only to be used in the circumstance of encountering a bear.  

Biking and Trail Running- The reason there are specific resources for bikers and trail runners is because they are quick moving, generally quiet activities. Check out this website to see what you can do to prevent bear encounters.

How to Use a Compass || REI 

 - Why learn how to use a compass? You have a cell phone to help you figure out where you are right? Montana is in the top three states of least cell coverage. Bringing and knowing how to use a compass could help you get your self out of a situation where you feel you are lost! Check it out! 

Get Unlost - Here’s another resource on getting unlost!  

Water purification systems are essential to backcountry travel. If you don’t treat your water, you could contract giardia, a disease that comes from unclean water. Here’s some resources on picking a water filtration system and treating water in the backcountry   

Choosing a Water Filter System 

How to Treat Water for Drinking 

Lightning Safety  - This Appalachian Trail resource explains how to handle lightning while hiking