More people than ever before are enjoying spending time in nature. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has helped to make open space a more attractive proposition, even before this more people generally have been discovering walking and hiking as a great antidote to city living. While hiking brings many benefits, it is also crucial to be aware of the safety issues around hiking. Here are some key tips on how to better protect yourself when you’re out on a walk or trek.
1. Share Your Plan
The first rule of going hiking is to tell at least one other person what your plan is. Agree to check in with them after your hike. If you don’t get in touch with them, they’ll know to alert the authorities in case you need help. It’s important you choose someone who isn’t coming on the hike with you, and someone you can rely on to do something about it if they can’t get in touch with you.
2. Bring a Friend
The idea of going out hiking alone might sound appealing to some people, but it is rarely a good idea. The great outdoors can be unpredictable, and even hiking routes you know well can bring unexpected events from time to time. It is always safest to go hiking with another person. It means you can look out for each other, and if one of you does get into some trouble, at least there is someone to go and find help. Remember cell phone reception is not reliable in remote places, so this is not a good stand-in for having an actual person with you!
3. Research the Area
It is always best to do as much research as possible before actually embarking on a hike. Look closely at the trail you want to take, understand what the terrain will be like, and speak to anyone you know who has done the hike previously. National or state parks should be able to supply a wealth of information and will also have rangers you can speak to. Learn about any wild animals and plants you need to be aware of, and if any hunting takes place in the vicinity.
4. Take a Survival Kit
Even if you are just planning to go on a hiking trip for a day, it is important to have some survival essentials with you, in case you run into any problems. A first aid kit, an emergency shelter, food, water (plus purification tablets) and an emergency foil blanket are all necessities. Matches and a lighter are also needed for making fires, and a multi-tool is required for basic tasks and for protecting yourself. Consider an EDC box subscription box if you plan to hike or trek on a regular basis.
5. Check the Weather
A common mistake is that a hiker feels so eager to go on their hiking trip, they forget to check the weather forecast. Finding yourself in the middle of a storm or frequent rain downpours can quickly make a hiking excursion dangerous, not to mention extremely uncomfortable. If bad weather is predicted, simply postpone your trip to another day.
6. Stick to the Trail
Some adventurers are tempted to veer from the hiking trail when they’re out enjoying a walk. This is usually a bad idea. As soon as you leave the trail, you have no idea what terrain or conditions you will come across, which will leave you more prone to injury. Leaving the trail also makes it easier for you to get lost, plus it destroys some of the natural surroundings you have gone to enjoy.
7. Good Shoes
Make sure you wear appropriate shoes or hiking boots for the terrain on the trail. You need shoes that have good grip, are watertight and support your feet properly in order to keep yourself as safe as possible while hiking. If you decide to invest in hiking boots, make sure you wear them in enough before you embark on your hike, and buy proper hiking socks to go with them.
8. Set Off Early
Part of keeping yourself safe during a hike is to know how long the hike should take you, and planning for some extra time around this just in case you are slower than you think. The key is to ensure you reach the end of the hike before nightfall, so also research when the sun is due to set on the day of your hike. You should not be out hiking in the dark as your visibility will be poor and your risk of harm or injury increases. Set off as early as possible in the morning if you want the luxury of having plenty of time on your walk.
9. Bring a Map
Cell phones can be notoriously unreliable away from urban centers, so you should plan to be out of cell service or out of battery during your planned hike. It is therefore crucial to bring a physical map with you so you don’t get lost.