Keep hiking safety in mind before you step outside.

Exploring the great outdoors is an adventurous and refreshing activity for many. It is always a good idea to unplug for a few hours, or days, as you trek into the woods and clear your head. There are so many different outdoors places to explore; the options truly are limitless. Of course, before you start your adventure, it is important to consider hiking safety. The wilderness is a daunting destination and hikers should treat it as such. Accidents happen, and there is so much that can go wrong if you are not adequately prepared. Fortunately, if you keep hiking safety in mind before and during your hike, it lessens the chances of any unplanned incidents.

Use these hiking safety tips on your next outdoor excursion.

Bring the gear you need.

hiking safety - gear you need

This might seem like a basic knowledge concept, but you might be surprised how many people neglect to bring the essential gear for a hike. Whether it is an inadequate amount of food or insufficient clothing, these oversights can affect your trip. In critical situations, it can be a life or death circumstance to not have the correct gear. Prevent unnecessary anxiety and avoidable predicaments by accessing what you need well before you slip on those hiking boots.

Of course, the amount and type of gear you need truly depends on your trip. A three-mile casual day hike requires different gear than a 40-mile weekend backpacking trek. Consider your hiking style and what you hope to get out of the experience as you plan where to go. Always pack an extra day’s worth of food and the right weather gear you need. Bring bear mace, a flashlight, and a first aid kit as well. Check out this comprehensive hiking gear list as you pack your backpack.

Time your hike accordingly.

If this is your first long hike, you might not know how quickly you will complete it. Even if you have trekked many previous journeys, it is still impossible to account for any unexpected circumstances that may occur. With all that to keep in mind, it is essential to time your hike accordingly. The last thing you want to do is get stuck on a trail as the sun goes down. The dark increases your chance of getting lost, as well as numerous other risks. What time of day you choose to embark on your adventure should also consider the weather. 

Especially for elevated or exposed hiking trails, it is critical to embark as early as possible on your excursion. From personal experience of getting caught in a mid-day blizzard on top of a 14er mountain, I know that miscalculated your trip time can lead to unwanted predicaments. Save yourself the stress of rushing your hike, and leave early every time.

Be aware of your surroundings.

hiking safety - aware of your surroundings

While it is easy to get caught up in the beautiful scenery or trying to avoid tripping over tree roots, hikers should always keep their eyes on their surroundings. An important hiking safety tip if there ever was one, awareness is key for your protection. This of course directly applies to the risk of encountering wild animals, but also helps keep you aware of who else is around. 

Especially if you are solo hiking, hyper-awareness is essential to avoiding any unsafe situations. When you are attentive to the environment around you, it allows you to be proactive in potentially perilous situations, instead of simply reacting. It is also a good practice to think of survival plans beforehand, so you already have an idea of what to do if an unfortunate circumstance should befall you.

Bring a map and a compass.

Yes, the trail might be marked. Your friend might be insistent that he has hiked this route many times and no longer needs a map. Other hikers could insist that they know the way to go. No matter the excuse, nothing justifies not bringing the appropriate navigation gear. As anything can happen out there, it is important to always ensure you are adequately prepared. This includes bringing a map and a compass or GPS navigation device. While it may feel redundant to carry extra gear like this, it won’t feel that way after you make a wrong turn.

Research the area.

hiking safety - Research the area

Are bears common here? Is there poison oak or poison ivy? Is the trail closed because of the seasonal changes? These are all questions hikers need to ask as they plan their trip. Always look up regional hiking information once you know where you want to hike. This keeps you up to date on potential risks and any hiking alerts that you need to know. To ensure hiking safety, do your research and then strategize your adventure accordingly. You certainly won’t regret it when you are prepared for unforeseen hiking circumstances. Investigating the hiking routes ahead of time also lets you know what to expect, and even helps find the best trail for you.

Now you are ready to conquer the great outdoors without compromising your hiking safety.

However short your hiking trip is, it is important to stay prepared for anything. As you plan your next adventure, read over this hiking safety guide and prepare accordingly. You should readily incorporate these practices into your everyday adventure routine. Now you know the importance of packing carefully, timing your travels, staying extra alert, and tracking your hike. You can really never be too prepared when it comes to outdoor exploration. Always expect the unexpected, and plan for the best, whilst preparing for the very worst. With these basic and practical survival tips, you can step confidently into the wilderness without any fear.

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Faith is a writer and social media manager residing in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is passionate about people and currently attends university in pursuit of a degree in Clinical Psychology and Counseling. A nomad by nature, Faith finds utmost joy in trekking around the globe and strongly advocates backpacking as the best way to explore anywhere. Being a bookworm and an avid coffee drinker, she is likely to be found sipping an Americano and mulling over a classic novel.

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