Hikes are a wonderful way to spend your downtime. Adventuring in the great outdoors and immersing yourself in nature can do good things for the soul. Beginners in hiking have a lot to discover, and it is one of the most positively addictive hobbies out there. However, before heading off on a hike, whether it’s solo or as a group, there are essential safety tips to take into consideration. The guide below discusses 10 personal safety tips for that first deep wilderness hike.
Always Plan the Details
No hike can begin without the details planned beforehand. The first detail, and arguably the most important, is to conduct thorough research and have a solid plan before you even step foot out of the house. The most important things to plan for are as follows:
- Trail map
- Your supplies
- Travel options
Understand Personal Limits
A big step towards protecting personal safety is to be in tune with how you feel and your physical capacity for exercise. Hikes can be gentle or they can be arduous. Only seasoned hikers should undertake the more difficult trails because they take their toll on the body. You will get tired, and there will be challenges along the way. When you learn to listen to how you are feeling physically, you reduce the risk of succumbing to injury or over exerting yourself.
Packing is a key part of staying safe. What you pack will decide how the hike goes and how confident you feel throughout your journey. So, what are the best things to pack? There are a few staple items to take in your hiker’s backpack.
- Bespoke first aid kit
- UV and sun protection
- Torch and/or headtorch
- Hiking knife
- Emergency shelter
- Warm blanket and extra layers
- Map, compass, GPS device, satellite phone, and solar charger
Avoid Lone Hikes
Lone hikers are more at risk of becoming hurt or lost. If you must hike alone, make sure enough people know where you’re going and how long your hike is going to last in theory. However, it is generally safer to do these activities in pairs or a group. By bringing along another person, the supplies can be more evenly distributed which will take the weight strain off your shoulders and make things easier as you move along. You will also be safer with two pairs of eyes and hands, and there will be someone there to raise the alarm if something dangerous happens.
Let People Know Where You’re Heading
Letting people know where you’re heading is a simple move but a smart one. It will protect your personal safety infinitely because there are people who know where you are and when you should be coming back. That means, if you don’t get back on time or become missing, someone is aware that this is a problem and can alert the right authorities.
Hiking knives are a common accessory for many adventurers. However, certain risks in different terrains and areas require better protection. While you may not ever have to use it, there is value in carrying a licensed firearm just in case. Don’t forget the ammo, and consider purchasing it in bulk to make planning and organization much easier. Know the law, and always undertake basic training and safety techniques so you feel comfortable too.
Have a Solar Charger Close By
Solar chargers are on your list of essential assets to pack. Any power bar will do the trick but solar versions are far more sustainable and generally better for the planet. Plus, there is little to no chance of running out of batteries because it is powered by your natural surroundings. A charger is a wise thing to take along because phones are an essential safety item, and it can be a multi-purpose tool as well. For instance, if a GPS device is drained, you might become lost. If you don’t have a way to map your way back, you will be in danger.
Be Aware of the Potential Dangers on Your Path
Being out in the wilderness requires knowledge about what is around you. Lots of national parks have predators within that might leave you alone, but they also could attack as well. Hikers need to be prepared for that eventuality. Who are the main culprits?
- Mountain lions
Each one of these five animals poses a real threat to your safety. Take the time before you begin to get to know each species that could be lurking, the best ways to deal with one should you come face to face, and how to protect yourself if a confrontation ensues. Knowledge is power in this context, and you cannot start a hike without understanding what’s out there.
Stay Mindful of Hydration
Hydration is essential. You should always carry spare water and even make yourself aware of natural, clean, and safe water sources along the way in case you need to refill. Dehydration is a serious condition that can even lead to death. Out under the beating sun all day long is a direct route to the body becoming dehydrated. You must take action to ensure this does not happen.
Protect Your Feet
Hiking requires stamina and muscle strength. If you are not used to walking long distances, your feet might become victims of injury and worse. Make sure you have the right hiking shoes or boots and that they are a suitable fit. Take blister band-aids and it is always worth investing in walking specific sock products too. Hiking shoes are designed to support ankles and feet together which means you will be at a lessened risk of common hiking injuries if you purchase some.
All first time hikers should consider their safety as a top priority. It is essential to know where you are going and all the risks in the area in order to properly stay protected. Don’t be afraid to carry personal protection, and always let people know where you are going before you get there.