Hiking Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

Spending time in nature can be a breathtaking and relaxing experience to get away from everyday life. However, if you want to hike safely, you need to be aware that nature can be unforgiving and deadly.

Every year, hikers and adventurers head into the wilderness unprepared and ill-equipped. Tragically, not all of them return. To avoid being one of those affected, you must take hiking safety seriously.

From sudden weather changes to unexpected encounters with wildlife, the risks of hiking are real, and you can’t afford to take them lightly.

Today we’ll give you some tips on how to protect yourself while hiking and spending time in the great outdoors.

Is hiking a high-risk activity?

Like any outdoor activity, hiking has some risks that you should not overlook. However, hiking can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you take the time to prepare, educate yourself, and exercise caution.

Typical hiking risks include poor weather conditions, difficult terrain, getting lost, dangerous wildlife, and injuries from falls or other accidents.

Although many risks can be mitigated and avoided, outdoor adventures are often unpredictable.

Some hikes and wilderness areas are riskier than others and present their own challenges. To maximize your safety, you need to be aware of the hazards in the area where you plan to hike. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the challenges you might encounter.

When should you not go hiking?

No matter what epic hike you have planned, there are times when you shouldn’t hike. The most obvious time not to hike is when the weather conditions are bad.

These include thunderstorms, heavy rain, or other bad weather conditions. They drastically increase the risk of hypothermia, getting lost, and injury.

Also, think twice about hiking if you have a health condition. Hiking could aggravate an illness or medical condition. It would put you farther away from medical professionals should your condition worsen.

You should also avoid hiking during trail closures. Authorities often close trails due to maintenance or hazardous conditions.

Fallen trees, dangerous sinkholes, or aggressive wildlife could be in the area and be the cause of the closure. Do yourself a favor and respect the closure. This may mean taking a different trail or waiting until it reopens.

What should you do before a hike?

Whether you are new to hiking or have been hiking for years, there are some things you should always do before hiking.

The longer you hike, the more these things will become second nature. However, newbies should create a checklist to adequately prepare for the adventure.

First, review the trail and familiarize yourself with the route you plan to take. Make a note of the length, elevation gain, and potential hazards.

At this stage, you should thoroughly assess your physical abilities. If you are hiking for the first time, it may not be best to cover more than 20 miles or climb thousands of vertical feet.

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast for the place where you will be hiking. This will help you decide what clothes to wear, what equipment to take, and whether you can hike safely.

Remember that the weather can change in a very short period of time, especially at higher elevations. A chance of rain can quickly turn into monsoon-like conditions.

You should also always let others know about your plans before you head out. Tell them where you plan to go, what route you will take, and when you expect to return. This can be helpful if for some reason you do not return on time.

You can pass the information on to the proper authorities so they can begin searching in the event of an emergency.

What should you pack for hiking?

One of the keys to hiking safety is packing the right gear. Unfortunately, there is no universal packing list for every hiking adventure. However, you should take a handful of items with you when you are out on a hiking trail.

First, make sure you have a sturdy and comfortable backpack. It needs to be big enough to carry the gear, food, and water you’ll need on your trip. You don’t want to miss out on anything because you don’t have enough room.

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Next, you need to carry the essentials, including food and water, in your backpack. Your snacks and food are your source of energy during the hike, so make sure you pack plenty.

If you want to lighten your load, you can use a portable filtration system to carry less water if you have fresh water sources nearby.

Don’t forget other essentials like a navigation device, first aid kit, and emergency kit. The equipment you need depends largely on the length and difficulty of the trail, weather conditions, and your personal needs.

Remember: Keep your strength up during your hike with these tasty hiking snacks!

Hiking safety tips that can save your life

Safety should always come first when hiking. We’ve compiled a list of hiking safety tips that can save your life. Lace up your hiking boots and let’s go!

Plan ahead

It’s not for nothing that the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” To be safe while hiking, you must have a plan and communicate it with others.

To make a plan, you need to learn about the adventure ahead. This can help you consider the possible risks and challenges you might encounter.

Bring the right equipment

A well-developed plan will allow you to bring the right gear for your hike. What you need for a hike in the mountains of Tennessee is different from what you need for a hike in the Grand Canyon.

You need to bring the right gear to keep you safe no matter where your adventures take you.

Close up of two hikers wearing hiking boots

Know your limits

Even if you have the right equipment and plan accordingly, you can’t afford to overestimate your limits. Your safety while hiking depends on knowing your own body.

Some adventures require you to physically prepare yourself through training. Depending on the trip, this can mean weeks or months of intensive preparation.

You can’t expect to be a couch potato and want to hike the entire Appalachian Trail without training. Know your limits and avoid overexerting yourself. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation that will put you in over your head.

Stay on marked paths

While some trails are better marked than others, one of the easiest ways to get lost is to stray from a marked path. Look for markers along the trail that point you in the right direction. The AllTrails app on your phone can help you stay on the trail if you don’t know where to go.

However, don’t rely too much on technology. As you probably know, it can let you down when you need it most, especially in remote wilderness areas.

If possible, carry a paper map of the trail or area. Having a compass and knowing how to use it can help you find your way on a poorly marked trail.

A signpost

Pay attention to your surroundings

Like a crowded city street, the wilderness can be unpredictable and dangerous. You must always be aware of your surroundings. Watch for potential hazards to avoid at all costs. This includes changes in the trail or wildlife in the area.

Take the opportunity to disconnect from technology to be fully aware of your surroundings. Understand that safety while hiking includes watching and listening for unexpected hazards.

Even if you’ve put together the perfect playlist as a soundtrack for your hike, it can cause you to miss important signals that could save your life.

Whether it’s the rattle of a rattlesnake’s tail or the grunt of a mother bear, you want to hear them as soon as possible. You could be one step away from making a life-threatening decision. So pay attention to your surroundings and use your senses to your advantage.

Never hike alone

Another big mistake that many hikers make is to set out alone. This is dangerous because if you fall or injure yourself, you have no one to ask for help. You are completely on your own to take care of yourself and get out of dicey situations.

Also, if you are hiking with others, you can carry more gear and share the weight of the load. If you are going on a long and strenuous hike, you will appreciate the morale boost that a hiking partner can have.

However, you can still carry a personal locator beacon or satellite communication device in case you get separated or lost, and share the information with others.

Basic first aid skills

A first aid kit in your backpack is no good if you don’t know how to use it.

To increase your safety while hiking, take a first aid course to brush up on your skills. Knowing how to treat and dress wounds will help you avoid infections.

If a minor wound is not treated, it can become more serious and dangerous. Also, you never know when someone you hike with or encounter along the way may need CPR or experience another medical emergency.

Basic first aid skills can help you stay safe and potentially save someone else’s life in an emergency.

Hands off wild animals

Every year we see more and more videos about the bad things that can happen when people get too close to wild animals. Unfortunately, many people forget that the fluffy animals they see in pictures and videos can be extremely dangerous.

Many tourists can’t resist the temptation to take a selfie with a bison or share their lunch with squirrels.

However, both are wild animals that can behave unpredictably. Big or small, you should always keep your distance from wild animals.

Watch out for weather changes

Mother Nature doesn’t care about your hiking plans or your safety. Weather can change quickly and unexpectedly. Keep an eye on the weather forecast in the days leading up to your hike.

Also, have the proper clothing and other items ready to protect you in case of inclement weather. If necessary, find shelter to wait out a storm or other inclement weather.

Remember: Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you can’t take them hiking! Take a look at these helpful tips for hiking with your kids.

Stay hydrated and energized

When packing your backpack, take enough food and water to sustain you during the hike. You may need to delay the start and end of the hike to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.

Unfortunately, a gallon of water weighs about eight pounds, which can get heavy on a long hike. With a portable water filter, you can safely drink water from water sources such as streams, rivers, and springs.

Also, if you are hiking in areas with little shade, high temperatures, or for long periods of time, always carry more water than you may need. You can quickly become dehydrated under these conditions.

Follow these hiking safety tips to stay safe in the great outdoors

Hiking should be an enjoyable and rewarding activity. However, if you’re not careful, it can become dangerous and deadly in the blink of an eye.

Do yourself a favor and follow the hiking safety tips we’ve presented today. That way, you’ll stay safe and make incredible memories on your adventures. Always put safety first and be prepared for any situation that may arise.

Do you have any other safety tips for hiking?

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