7 Hiking Safety Tips for Your Next Hiking Adventure
Planning a hiking adventure soon? Hiking is a fun, relaxing, and exciting way to experience the great outdoors and reconnect with your loved ones, with nature, and to get some great exercise. But, if you don’t take it seriously, it can also be extremely dangerous. A poorly planned trip can quickly turn from hiking adventure to hiking hell!
Here are a few simple hiking safety tips you can follow to make sure your next hiking adventure is the best experience it can be!
1. Choose the Right Hiking Trail
The first thing to do when planning a hiking adventure is to choose a hiking trail. This requires a little homework and research beforehand. An online search should give you plenty of options. Pay attention to the level of difficulty, the time you want to spend, and take into consideration the fitness of everyone in your group. There are hiking trails to suit every kind of hiker, from complete beginners to those with advanced hiking experience.
2. Get Familiar With the Trail
Once you’ve chosen your hiking trail, take time to fully familiarize yourself with it. If you can, take a map of the trail with you, and preferably a paper map. Cell phones are handy, but not if you run out of charge or service.
Before you go, study the map so that you know exactly where you are when you get out there, and how to leave the area in the event of an emergency. Also, research the area for any regional hiking information. Are there any local animals you should be aware of, or poisonous plants? Are there hunting seasons or hunting areas to avoid? You want to know as much as you can about your hiking trail before you go!
3. Save the Important Numbers
If you are hiking in a national park, take a note of the park’s security contact details. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it but if something happens to you or someone in your hiking party, then you will be able to call for help.
4. Pack the Essentials
Packing light is a great idea but there are a few things that you shouldn’t leave behind. Here are a few of the absolute essentials you should have in your backpack:
For your hiking safety take a cell phone. While a hiking adventure is a great way to disconnect from technology have it in your backpack so you can call for help if you need to.
Food and Water
Make sure you have enough food and water for your hike and then take a little extra, just in case! If you get lost and end up out in the wilderness for longer than expected, you may be very grateful of an extra sandwich or bottle of water.
Another great hiking safety tip is to make sure you have the right hiking equipment or hiking supplies. Do you need a tent for overnight, or walking sticks? Or, making climbing ropes? If you’ve studied your hiking trail, then you’ll know what terrain you’ll be facing and the equipment you need to take with you.
First Aid Kit
A small first aid kit doesn’t weigh much and comes in very handy! You can easily fit in band-aids, gauze, medical tape, compression bandage, a pair of tweezers, pain reliever, and any personal medication you may require.
Pack a small torch or headlamp even if you are planning to have your hiking adventure during the day. A wrong turn could have you out later than expected or you may need to camp for the night.
5. Dress Right
Wearing the appropriate clothes for your hiking adventure is more important than you think. Starting with your feet... sneakers may be fine for some trails, but you may want to invest in a pair of hiking boots. They give you extra ankle support which could save you from tripping or even a broken bone.
You don't need to spend load of money on a whole new hiking wardrobe, but here are a few basics which will not only keep you safe on your hiking adventure but also comfortable:
- Avoid cotton, when wet it will make you feel colder and increases the risk of hypothermia
- Go for synthetic or wool
- Bring a hat, even in summer as the nights can get cold in the mountains
- Bright colored clothing- easier to see should Search and Rescue need to find you
- Dress in layers so that you can strip off when too hot, or put more on when it gets cold
6. Check the Weather
Review the weather before you set out. Even if it looks like it’s going to be a bright and sunny day, it’s a good idea to take a light coat with you. Weather can change quickly or if an accident happens and you are stranded overnight, then that coat could come in very handy!
Wet weather isn’t the only thing you’ll need protection from. Add sunblock to your first aid kit and a hat to keep the sun off your head. Sun stroke can be serious!
7. Make and Share Hiking Plans
Perhaps, one of the best hiking safety tips is to write down your hiking plan and share it with your friends and family members. You can download a hiking plan from your local Search and Rescue agency or create one yourself. The information you share can help the emergency services find you, treat you, or even save your life.
Here are the most important details you should include in your hiking plan:
- Names and date of birth of all hikers
- Vehicle registration plate, model, and colour
- Your hiking route, including starting and end point and any camping spots for longer hiking adventures
- Emergency contact numbers
- Expected return time
When you make a plan, stick to it! This will only be useful for your hiking adventure if you give the correct information.
Safe Hiking Means More Fun
These hiking safety tips are just a few simple steps you can take to ensure your hiking adventure is a memorable one for all the right reasons.