Hiking can be fun, but there are some simple, basic precautions you should consider before you hit the trails. Here are seven tips for a fun, safe hike:
Don’t hike alone. You may find yourself in a situation that requires help, especially if you are on a nature trail that is new to you. You are less likely to get lost, be attacked by people or animals or suffer a bad fall if you hike with a partner or group.
Always carry water. Slightly more than you think you might need, if you need to eliminate weight, reduce your food, not your water. In a survival situation, water is of greater importance than food. Consider carrying your water in a hydration pack and bring a water filtering straw for emergencies.
Bring snacks. Choose compact, lightweight, calorie dense foods. Trail mix, dried fruit, freeze dried foods or granola bars can be packed easily and provide energy along the trail or needed calories in an emergency. Your favorite chocolate bar will be most appreciated at the midpoint of your hike.
Dress in layers. Layers allow you to add or subtract clothing in order to maintain proper body temperature. You should also be prepared for weather changes. Choose polypropylene and other synthetic materials over cotton as cotton absorbs moisture. Wear a hat, a beanie or similar fitted hat that covers your ears if it’s cold or a broad brimmed hat with a strap for protection from hot winds and direct sunlight.
Wear hiking boots. Hiking boots provide no-slip traction and foot and ankle support during your hike. Buy quality boots from a dealer who specializes in outdoor wear. Boots range from lightweight to heavy boots that are more durable and provide additional support of your feet and ankles. Consider these features when shopping for boots: water resistance, overall weight, price, and proper width of the toe box. Make sure they fit correctly and break them in gradually before wearing them on your hike.
Wear hiking socks. Good thick, padded hiking socks are as important as good boots. They are the difference between an enjoyable, safe and pain free hike or one limping along the trail with blisters. It’s a good idea to wear your hiking socks when breaking in your boots around the house and neighborhood before hitting the trails.
Take a map. It’s easy to get lost or simply turned around. A map of hiking trails and terrain may save you from spending a long cold night in the woods. Let friends, family or park rangers know your intended route and the approximate time you expect to return.
Have any tips? Please share them in the comments below.