Planning to embark on your first hike this summer? Don’t leave home without reading these hiking safety tips.
A dayhike or a dayclimb is one of the best things you can do for your body and soul, without pushing your physical and financial limits.
There are countless reasons to enjoy the outdoors — it gets your heart pumping faster, fills your lungs with fresh air, and rewards you with a magnificent view of a forest pulsating with life or a birds’ eye-view atop a summit!
But if you are hesitating because of fear of unfamiliar trails, dangers of provoking an animal or insect attack, and threats of having an injury and the like (most of which are downright OA), then this safety tip blog is for you to regain your peace of mind.
Hiking Safety Tips #1 Plan your route
Preparation starts the moment you choose where you will hike. First, check out the reviews of the chosen trail and its characteristics. Google it! Read blogs and find out: is the difficulty beginner-friendly? Does it have water source along the trail? How many hours will it take you to finish? Is the trail well-marked?
Start early within the day, after you check the weather conditions. Unless you are camping, avoid letting the sun set with you still on the trail. Hiking before the crack of dawn is best, because the temperature is cooler and because it gives you more daylight hours for descent.
Hiking Safety Tips #2 Wear proper gear
No, you don’t need to look like you’re climbing Mt. Everest! Just adjust to the weather conditions. If you expect a sunny stroll, wear proper sun protection such as sunblock, bandannas, arm and leg sleeves and sunglasses. Colder weather or overnight camping means bringing thermal blankets, jackets and scarves. Below is an example:
This is my typical hiking gear. Nothing fancy — dri-fit shirts, breezy shorts, long socks, arm sleeves and bandanna. Walking stick (and makeup!) optional.
For safety and rash-protection, wear tact pants or thick long socks to protect your legs. Wearing gloves that cover half the fingers is also underemphasized. But this will protect you when you hold on to tree branches and rocks for support.
In case of a downpour or a river cross, be sure to waterproof valuables with ziplock. I don’t usually pack rain coats because it’s part of the hike to get a little drizzled. Finally, get shoes with good traction that will suit the trail accordingly — be it sandy, rocky, grassy or muddy. Consider taking a walking stick with you for balance, or purita-style, just grab a suitable fallen tree branch.
Before the hike, strengthen your leg muscles surrounding the knee to ensure they can endure. Do stretching and breathing exercises and walking for long periods of time weeks before. Know your physical limitations and don’t overexert yourself. Determine the pace you are comfortable with, and improve your stamina enough to finish the hike.
Days before, consume carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice, bread and pasta. Carb-loading enables your body to have enough stored to be burned during the activity.PS Don’t make this an excuse to pig out. Be sure to hydrate, do warm-ups and sleep well before the hike.
Hiking Safety Tips #4 Ask for Help
Adventurous is not recklessness! Get accountability by registering to the jump-off point of the trail. Leave your name, expected time of return and person to contact during emergencies. Get a hold of numbers to get help from, although do not expect your phones to have signal in the wilderness.
When traveling with a group, plan an alternative meeting place in case one of the members of the hike gets lost. Keep a flashlight, headlamp and whistle handy and wear neon clothes to grab attention. Consider hiring a guide or joining a travel group if the trail is long, difficult and unfamiliar.
Hiking Safety Tips #5 Prepare for emergencies
Injuries are unpredictable during the hike, that’s why it is best to train yourself with methods to address common setbacks such as sprains and cramps. Other possible problems are hypothermia, heat exhaustion, dehydration, wounds and scratches, and fatigue.
Pack a simple first aid kit and familiarize yourself with basic first aid. Be sure to bring an extra liter of water and lots of trail food in case of emergency to avoid dehydration and hunger.
Hiking, like most activities, is best enjoyed prepared. Believe me, take a chill pill and don’t overthink. Abandon your fears but be positively expectant.