Hiking can be fun for the entire family, or it can be a nightmare that you never get over. People go missing and sometimes die on hiking trips from time to time, so it’s important to stay safe and have the things you need for survival on hand, just in case.
What Is Hiking?
Hiking is more than just going for a walk. It’s the terrain that sets hiking apart. A hike is a long distance walk that generally happens across a terrain other than a sidewalk, like through the woods or cross-country. You don’t have to walk thousands of miles, but your hike should be more than just a walk to the store.
Because you’re often out in the wilderness when hiking, it’s important to play it safe and take precautions for your safety. Here are seven tips for safety on your hike, whether it’s a long one or a short one.
1. Stay Hydrated
If you’re going on a 5-mile hike, you won’t likely need some snacks along, unless you skipped eating before you hit the road. Hiking burns calories, especially on uneven terrain. Take some trail mix or protein bars with you to stay moving.
You still want to have water on hand though. Staying hydrated is extremely important, even more so when you’re sweating out the water in your body. There are plenty of options for carrying water with you, or you can invest in a water purifier (they come in a straw form that allows you to drink even when you forgot your water bottle safely, and don’t take up much space in your pack).
2. Know Your Surroundings
Where are you hiking? Have you been there before? Do you have a guide? Do you have a friend going with you that knows the terrain?
You can’t expect your smartphone to work when you’re hiking in the middle of nowhere, so GPS may not be much help. You’ll want an actual map if one is available. Let someone know where you’re hiking too, and your planned return time, so if you’re not back in time someone will come looking for you.
3. Don’t Mess With Wildlife
If you see any wild animals while you’re on your hike, leave them alone. Know the area you’re hiking in and what animals hang out there so you can stay safe. Some animals are dangerous (bears and wolves), and you’re more dangerous to some (like baby deer).
Know where the animals make their homes. Know what types of snakes are in the area, and take an antivenin kit with you if needed. And, don’t forget the bug spray.
4. Dress Properly
Knowing the terrain and what weather to expect will help you know what to wear when you’re hiking. Always wear the right shoes. Hiking boots are ideal, but if you’re not braving too rough of territory, you might be able to get away with a good pair of walking shoes.
You may want to go in shorts and a workout top because it’s hot out, but consider how long you’ll be out and whether or not the weather will change. Take a backpack with you and toss in some pants and some long sleeves (covering all your skin helps keep ticks from getting on you as well).
5. Think Safety
Be safe. All of the things on this list work together for your safety, but there are some other things you may want to have with you as well. Protect yourself from sunburn with sunscreen. Take some pepper spray with you, because you can run into bad people in the great outdoors too.
Make a list of gear and safety items you will need. Double check that lists when you’re packing your backpack for your hiking trip. Once you’re on the trail, there won’t be any convenience store to buy the things you forgot.
6. Check the Weather
What’s the temp right now? That could quickly change. Depending on where you’re hiking, severe weather can come on without you being aware of it. Check the weather app before you head to your hiking trail and be prepared.
7. Be Respectful
You’re sharing the outdoors with animals and other people, and nature. Be respectful of all of them. Don’t litter. Keep down the swearing and loud talk. Leave things the way they are by not taking things out of nature and not leaving anything there.
Why Should You Go Hiking?
Hiking is a great way to get back to nature and feel more in tune with yourself and the great outdoors. It’s also a great full-body workout and will do good things for your heart and lung health.