How to Stay Safe While Solo Hiking

stay safe and well while hiking alone

Hiking in the outdoors in one of the few activities where there is no shortage. There are countless mountains to conquer, waterfalls to see, campfires to have good conversations around, and views to take in. It’s a chance to see what a big world you live in and truly slow down from all the pressures of work, relationships, and any other struggles you might have.

But, as the old saying goes, “it’s only fun until someone gets hurt”. With the adventure comes a heavy dose of responsibility. What happens if you get lost? Are you knowledgeable enough to know what to eat if your food runs out? How do you get down the mountain if you’ve hurt yourself? What are other safety precautions that you need to be aware so you can go on that hike and not have to be paranoid of all the “what ifs”?

By remembering the 3 P’s: Prep, Prevent, and Protect a solo hiker will not only be able to get their adventure fill but also will be able to do it with peace of mind.

Prep for Your Trip:

We all have a tendency to think that the worst case scenario wouldn’t happen to us, but it is always important to cover your bases. No one wants to get lost and have to stay a few nights up on the mountain. But, if that were to happen to you, would you be able to survive and find your way home? Here are a few prep tips to check off before your next adventure:

  1. Tell someone about your trip – Loop a friend or family member into when you are going on your trip, the route, and when you plan to be back. And, after telling them, stick to it. There is no point of telling them only to change your route and decrease their chances of helping you.
  2. Pack extra – Weight is crucial in hikes. But, realize that by having extra water and food, you will be able to survive if worst case scenario happens. Take on the extra weight for the extra security.
  3. Channel the inner boy scout – Know the plants that are poisonous, how to tie different knots, and bring a whistle for help. This step will take some effort, but it will pay off. No one wants a stomach ache (or worse) if they decide to eat the wrong plant. A quick solution to this will be to print out some articles that cover these topics and store them in your backpack.

Prevent the worst case scenario:

No one wants to be lost, sick, or hurt on the mountain. But not everyone knows the few tips to significantly decreasing your odds of making that happen. Do these 3 steps to help prevent the worst from happening.

  1. Stay on the trail – It’s no secret that most of the time people get lost because they venture off the marked path. The paths are made for a reason and even though you have that sudden urge to branch off, stay focused on the trail ahead.
  2. Check weather conditions – Knowing whether you will encounter snow, rain, or any other potentially dangerous weather will be important to research before going on the trip. This will also heighten your awareness of how far you should hike and where you should and shouldn’t hike.
  3. Talk to strangers – Yes, the opposite of the advice your mom always gave you. If you’re hiking alone and on a new trail, it is important to know what is ahead of you. Chances are, people will be on the same trail and can answer questions like: “How much farther?”, “Are there areas to camp?”, “Any hard cliffs or hazardous areas to be aware of?”

Protect yourself:

While it might be your life long dream to say that you’ve fought a bear with your two bare hands and survived, let’s leave that to the actors in movies. Protecting yourself while you hike can be an area that most people do not consider, but remember these tips and you’ll be protected.

  1. Bring Fido – Dogs are a man’s best friend and they are great at warding off any animals or life-threatening dangers. If your dog is well-trained, let them walk in front of you, sniff out the area, and have their own adventure. Additionally, since dogs can’t scale the face of a cliff, they will limit the amount of risk that you take on each hike.
  2. Pack a knife – A knife can serve as protection against animals, but it can also help if you need to cut branches and make a shelter. It only adds incremental weight, but dramatically increases your protection.
  3. Know the 10 essentials – A common list that people reference is the 10 essentials. Knowing and abiding by this list will save you a lot of anxiety on the hikes:
  1. Navigation
  2. Sun Protection
  3. Insulation
  4. Illumination
  5. First-Aid Supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair Kit and Tools
  8. Nutrition
  9. Hydration
  10. Emergency Shelter

Summary:

Hiking is one of the best ways to fulfil your craving for adventure while slowing down to take in the beauty around you. It is a way to take a free vacation and by following the 3 P’s (prep, prevent, and protect), your solo hiking adventures will continue to give you amazing sights, sounds, and memories that most people pass by.

Prepping for a trip may seem to hold you back from getting onto the mountain but it pays off in the long-term. Preventing the worst case scenario is something that most people trick themselves into believing that it “won’t happen to them”, but if it did, you know that you will be prepared. Lastly, by bringing your pup, knife, and knowing the 10 essentials, you’ll be able to protect yourself from any unknown dangers that you might face. Take advantage of life and explore more while staying safe and smart.

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About the author

Justin Archer

Hi, I'm Justin Archer a family man with 2 boys and a wife. I'm an outdoorsman who loves hunting, fishing, hiking and lots of other outdoor activities. I love testing new outdoor gear, learning new things and passing on the knowledge I have gained.

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