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7 essential tips for a safe hiking trip

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Exploring the wilderness provides an excellent opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature and get a bit of fresh air. However, there are indeed risks behind the terrific scene. No matter whether you are a novice or experienced hiker, you can encounter dangers. Be prepared so you can enjoy a safe and wonderful trip. Always return home with joy and make hiking your sustainable hobby.

Here are some hiking essential tips for you:

1. Research your hiking trail

When you plan your trip, do a thorough search on the hiking trail. Well established trails within National Park or managed by the local government may have information on their website about resting points, drinking water sources, first aid stations, spots with mobile coverage, or safety hints on specific routes. Read other blogs or reviews to have a general idea of what you may expect.

If you hike overseas, make sure you know how to contact the local emergency services without communication problems. Hike within well support National Parks, trails or have a qualified hiking guide if you are not familiar with local conditions.

If possible, make a stop at the information/ park center before you set off to the starting point. Gather the final key information about recent terrain and weather change. There may be landslides in certain areas after the last heavy rainfall or a fallen tree. Don't forget to find out which is the most efficient way to ask for help during an emergency, contact the park center or local emergency services?

2. Check the weather

Find out which season to avoid for a specific trail when you plan your trip. Do check the weather forecast. But remember, even if you check the forecast, it may not be detailed enough, and local weather changes could be fast and unexpected. Therefore, consult the park center or rangers; they are knowledgeable about the local terrain. Ask them for recent increments in weather and tips to stay away from dangers before you start your day.

Be familiar with yourself how to handle adverse weather, e.g.lightning, thunder, and unexpected heavy rain. It is reported that 50% of chance of thunderstorms accidents occurred at summits, under a tree, in large open areas, and near large bodies of water. Also, avoid streams and rivers during rain; water can swell rapidly, causing flooding or landslides.

If the forecast predicts a hot (above 35 degrees Celsius) and humid day, avoid hiking during the hottest hours (noon to 3 pm). Protect yourself from sunburn or heat-related illnesses by putting on sunscreen, a hat with a wide brim, sunglasses, and wear sun-protective clothes that cover your arms and legs. For cold forecasts, prepare enough insulation and extra layers of clothes.

3. Wear proper outfits

Hiking boots: the most important gear to make your hiking trip comfortable. Ensure the hiking shoes are suitable for the terrain you intend to go, e.g., do not wear sandals or running shoes to hike on rugged volcanic landscapes. No kidding, research shown 7% of hikers wear high heels or dress shoes during lava hiking. Find a pair of hiking boots that properly fit you, check the grip and cushion in your footwears are in good condition. Do not wear new hiking boots on a significant hike; gradually break in your new shoes.

Avoid ill-fitting and worn-out shoes. They increase the chance of forming blisters or injuring your ankle as they do not provide proper protection.

Find out more tips on choosing the right shoes to prevent blisters.

Socks: use hiking socks that dry fast or wick away moisture. Cotton socks are not a good option as they retain sweat or water. If you are prone to blisters, there are plenty of socks claiming to reduce friction; ask an expert from the outdoor gears shop or bring a pair of spare socks.

Depending on your hiking terrain and season, always prepare proper weather gear, e.g., raincoat, extra layers in the cold, and sun-protective wears in the hot.

4. 11 essential hiking gears to pack

  1. First aid kit: that contains items for common hiking injuries and adds customized items or medicine according to your health condition and medical status. Familiarize yourself with the first aid products and the applying procedures.

  2. Compass and map or GPS: don't just bring it; make sure you know how to use them, or they will be extra dead weight in your backpack.

  3. Whistle

  4. Fires: (lighters)

  5. Knife

  6. Headlamp or touch: with batteries

  7. Spare water: the general recommendation is to bring 1 to 1.5 liters of water per hour walk between drinking water supplies. Bring extra or water purifier/disinfectant materials if there are natural water sources. DO NOT drink untreated water.

  8. Spare nutrients: no cooking required and high energy food.

  9. Mosquito/insect repellent

  10. Sun-protection: sunscreen, broad brim hat, sunglasses

  11. Weather gears: raincoat or extra layers in cold

For a longer hike in a remote area, you can also consider:

  1. Repair kit: e.g., tape or a multifunctional tool

  2. Emergency shelter: sleeping bag or shelter that allows you to spend a night out

  3. SOS device: personal location beacon or satellite messenger

Depending on your trip's distance and geographic/topographic, you can adapt and personalize your essential gears.

Hiking gears checklist

5. Know yourself

Build your experience, strength, endurance, and skills before you go on a significant hike. Nature is unpredictable, and even experienced hikers may encounter accidents. However, it is noted that beginners tend to overlook potential risks. Therefore, better equipping yourself will definitely make your trip more enjoyable. You can start with a short trip and get to know your limitations. Get to know the amount of food and water you need to consume in different weather conditions. Also, gradually break in your hiking boots, familiar with the hiking gears, and allow your muscles to build up strength and endurance.

Always be alert about your condition in the returning half. After all the excitement of arriving at the summit and when your muscles get tired, the second half of the trip is more prone to accidents. Be extra careful and don't rush to finish.

It is critical to know when to answer the call from your body and turn back. An enjoyable hike is more than just the summit. The trip is still memorable if you enjoy every detail on the trail. Be safe so you can revisit to achieve your goal if you fail the first time.

6. Don't go alone - hiking

Have a companion, plan the itinerary together, discuss and agree with each other on emergency procedures. Also, notice your friends or family where you're going and roughly your schedule. If you don't return as planned, they will be alarmed and have the crucial information for the research parties.

7. Stay on the hiking track and don't go beyond the warning sign

Always stay in the course as there may be unknown dangers and obstacles off the path. It gives extra difficulties for the searching team if you get lost beyond the official trail.

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