Hiking is a great way to relax, breathe fresh air, find the peace you need and admire mesmerizing landscapes. But every adventure in a wilderness setting can also bring real risks. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a newbie, being properly prepared for an outdoor adventure is mandatory.
You never know what kind of unexpected things can happen, so continue reading this article and find out our six essential hiking safety tips to follow before every hike.
About Our Guest Author:
Rebecca is a translator by day, and a traveler mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.
Important Hiking Safety Tips
1. Check the weather forecast
No matter when you decide to hike your favourite trail, you should carefully check the weather forecast. A great way to avoid bad weather is to hike during spring or summer. But even if you do this, small changes in the weather can happen, and they can make your adventure much riskier and unpleasant.
Rain cannot only annoy you while hiking, but it can also affect the terrain and make your trip more dangerous. So, besides checking the weather forecast before you begin your escape into the wilderness. Make sure you are prepared for the unexpected by wearing proper gear.
2. Wear proper hiking clothes
The first things you should think of when buying your hiking gear are your shoes. You need properly fitting hiking shoes with good cushioning and grip. They will give you good ankle support and help you avoid blisters as well as slipping. Also, if you are getting new hiking boots make sure you test them on a short hike trail before adventuring into longer trips.
Socks are also important when you are on the road. Cotton retains moisture from sweaty feet, and this can cause blisters. So, wear wool or synthetic socks instead. And to make sure you keep your feet dry, take off your boots and socks every time you stop to rest (or admire the landscapes).
Just like your socks, the clothing you wear during hikes should be made of synthetic material. Make sure you have sunglasses and a hiking hat to protect you from the sun, and, even if you are hiking during a hot summer, don’t forget your raincoat, just in case.
3. Pack all the hiking essentials
Once you have information about the weather and your hiking clothes are prepared, you can begin packing for the trip. First of all, get an impermeable backpack, because it will protect your things in case it rains. Then, start adding the essential items you will need during your hike.
Here is a list of the things you must carry:
- The already mentioned sun hat, sunglasses and jacket/raincoat, as well as extra layers – it’s better to be safe than sorry
- Sunscreen – you need sun protection, even when the sun seems less intense
- Bug spray – the wild outdoors if filled with unfriendly insects
- A refillable water bottle – you need to stay hydrated during your entire hike
- Nutritious snacks – energy snacks will keep you going even when you feel tired
- First aid kit – you always have to be prepared to take care of unwanted blisters or cuts
- Multifunctional tool – you never know what kind of unexpected things you will encounter on the trail
- Map, a compass, and a GPS – Staying on the right path is very important because, even when it’s not dangerous, getting lost can ruin your hiking experience
- Headlamp – even if you’re planning a day hike, it might take longer than expected, and you must be prepared
- Reusable bag – taking care of nature is also important, so make sure you always put your trash in a bag
4. Always stay on the trail
One of the most important hiking safety tips that a lot of hikers ignore is to always stay on the trail. Many curious hikers can’t stop themselves from exploring other paths, but this can be very dangerous. Especially if you are inexperienced or hiking by yourself.
The number of obstacles you can encounter on the established trail is high, so you can imagine how many others appear when stepping off the path. Thick vegetation, wildlife and the lack of signs are just some of the things that can make you get lost in the wilderness. So avoid this and keep yourself safe by staying on the trail.
5. Don’t forget to hydrate
As mentioned before, a water bottle is a must-have item when hiking because staying hydrated while on a hike is extremely important.
Make sure you don’t drink water only when you feel very thirsty because at that point you are already dehydrated. Instead, take a sip from time to time to make sure you keep yourself healthy during the whole trip.
6. Hike with a friend or tell someone where you are going
Hiking with a friend or a group of people is always advisable. But there are many people who choose this type of adventure because they want to be by themselves in the middle of nature to clear their mind and forget about everything else. If you are one of them, don’t be afraid to hike alone. But make sure you tell someone where you are at all times. This way, in case you get lost or something else happens, there will be somebody to ask for help on your behalf.
Hiking Safety Tips Conclusion
That concludes my six essential hiking safety tips to follow before and during every hike. It doesn't matter if you are a hiking beginner or you have many years of hiking experience behind you. Following these steps when preparing for your outdoor adventure is simply a must.
Also, keep in mind that, depending on the type of hike, the time of the year, and the length of the trail, there are other items you need to add to your packing list, as well as different hiking clothing to consider. Enjoy your hiking adventure, but make sure you’re always safe!