Hiking certainly takes the cake as one of the best outdoor activities. Not only is it appropriate for all ages, but you really get the chance to connect with nature. From beautiful plants to bountiful wildlife, you can explore everything that our Mother Earth has to offer.
However, will all the greatness that can come from hiking, can also come extreme danger. Becoming lost and getting injured can easily happen without following the proper guidelines. According to research by David Paulides, at least 1,600 people are missing in the wild in the US, and the numbers just keep on rising.
Below, we are going to discuss the ultimate guide to staying safe while hiking so that you can enjoy this great activity while still being prepared for any hazards. Sound interesting? Then let’s get started.
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Research Your Chosen Trail
Whether you’re hiking Colorado’s Devil’s Causeway or the Kalalau Trail in Hawaii, it’s always important to do some intensive research first. This way, you can study the location in advance and be aware of the landscape around you. Along with this, it can also be beneficial to learn about the native wildlife and any poisonous plants that may be present. The last thing you want is to run into a bear or pack of wolves without any protection.
Choose the Right Level
While you might not realize it at first, most hiking trails will have a fitness level that can be used to determine if you are capable of making the entire distance. From beginner tracks that are flatter to advanced ones with steep inclines, it’s essential to take this into consideration before leaving. Completing a level that is too high for your ability can lead to even further health dangers. Some trails may even have an age recommendation, so make sure you check this out, too!
Bring the Appropriate Gear
While carting a heavy backpack with you through the wilderness might seem annoying, it’s vital that you have all the necessary gear with you when going hiking. If you do happen to get lost, having some matches and a bottle of extra water can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some of the most important things you need to bring:
When choosing clothes to wear hiking, you want to make sure that they are lightweight but still going to block out the cold. A high-quality wind-proof jacket is a great option and will help keep you warm during the night if you do happen to get lost. Don’t forget you’ll also need a hat to block out the sun and some sturdy walking shoes.
Since most hiking trails do have an abundance of wildlife, such as cougars, bears, and wolves, carrying protection with you can also be very beneficial. Some individuals understandably don’t like to carry firearms, so things like a bear spray can come in handy. Click the link does bear spray work for more information if you have any doubts.
Hiking accessories can greatly enhance your experience on the trails. A sturdy backpack, hydration system, comfortable shoes, and a reliable GPS are some of the essential hiking accessories that hikers should always carry. Another useful and versatile accessory that some hikers overlook is a trusty walking stick. Walking sticks can provide extra stability and support on rough terrain, reducing the strain on your knees and improving your balance. They can also be used to clear away obstacles, like spider webs or thorny bushes, and even to test the depth of streams before crossing. Walking sticks come in a variety of materials and styles, from lightweight aluminum to sturdy wooden poles, so you can choose one that best fits your needs and preferences.
If you suffer from any type of chronic condition or medication allergy, we recommend that you equip yourself with a medical alert bracelet. This type of accessory provides accurate health information to first responders if you are in an accident during your hike and left unable to communicate. In an emergency, a medical ID bracelet or necklace can advocate for you if you are incapacitated or unable to explain your medical details.
Food and Water
While one water bottle and some small snacks might seem like enough for a day hiking trip, you want to keep in mind what exactly will happen if you do get lost. To prepare yourself further, consider investing in a portable water filter. Small protein bars can also be a great addition.
First Aid Kit
From snake bites to scrapes and bruises, a first aid kit is one of the most vital things to carry with you. If you can’t find one for sale that is compact enough, then consider making your own. Check out this DIY portable first aid kit if you need some help getting started.
Always Carry a Map and Compass
Whether you’re hiking a trail for the first time or the 100th time, carrying a map and compass is extremely important. However, you want to make sure that you can actually read and use them! Otherwise, they may as well be useless. On top of this, don’t forget to make them waterproof so that they remain safe even in a storm. You can do this by storing the map in a secure Ziplock bag or laminating it.
Learn to Check the Weather in Advance
While the weather of an area can change at the drop of a hat, having a good idea of the forecast can save you a lot of trouble during your hiking trip. If you don’t have any internet to check things out online, try speaking to the park ranger about what events are likely to occur and at what time, etc. It can also be wise to learn more about how to protect yourself from lightning and severe storms.
Never Hike Alone
Hiking is one activity that should never be done alone, even if you are incredibly fit and confident. All it takes is a simple fall, and you could be stuck for days before somebody else happens to cross the trail. You also want to make sure that you inform some family members back home about exactly where you are going and when you are most likely to return. There have been many cases where search parties don’t even know where to start looking.
Learn When Enough is Enough
Knowing when to quit can be challenging, and sometimes after making it so far, you don’t want to turn back and throw away all of your hard work. However, it’s important to know when enough is enough. Pushing yourself too far is only going to cause further dangers, and it’s better to turn around before it’s too late. Remember to be proud of your accomplishments and move on. You can always try again next time!
And that’s it! By following the advice above, you can enjoy the magic of hiking while remaining as safe as possible. So, what are you waiting for? Put on your boots and head out there and explore the world. You never know what you might find! Be sure to check out more on Wander about great outdoor adventures you can enjoy now that you’re prepared.