There is nothing quite like losing yourself in the great outdoors on a scenic hike. The fresh air and freedom which hiking can bring are perfect for helping you to forget about your usual worries and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. Hiking is great for physical, mental, and emotional health, but only if it is done safely. Making sure that you are well prepared and that you have packed everything you need is crucial if you are going to stay safe. There are, unfortunately, many hikers who don’t do the proper planning or who ignore the common-sense rules of hiking.
To help protect everyone who will be hitting the trails this year, here is a guide to common hiking mistakes you want to avoid.
1. Not Packing the Right Equipment
When packing your kit, making sure that you have everything you need will make your hiking trip safer and more enjoyable. The folks at Native Compass explain that the right equipment will depend on your level of experience and the difficulty of the trail. If you are planning on going well off the beaten path, you may want to take a compass or even a GPS device. This will stop you from getting lost while hiking on an unfamiliar trail or in an area where there are no signposts, especially if your cell phone doesn’t get any service.
To ensure you have everything you need, research the hiking trail beforehand. Note the trail’s characteristics, such as the weather, terrain, and surrounding wildlife. For example, if you’re going to a dangerous area with animals, it would be best to pack self-defense weapons in an easy-to-carry range backpack.
2. Ignoring the Trail Signs
If there are signposts then it is very important that you pay attention to them and don’t go off-road. Trail signs are there for a reason, often either because going off-trail is dangerous or there is private property that you cannot hike on. There have been many situations in which hikers left the trail and ended up getting injured and needing rescue. If you are an inexperienced hiker, always stick to beginner trails and work your way up to more advanced hikes as you get used to it. Hiking may seem like a safe enough activity, but if you don’t know your own limits then you could be putting your safety in jeopardy.
3. Not Preparing for the Weather
Making sure that you are properly prepared for the conditions means more than just checking the local forecast before you head out. We all know how inaccurate weather forecasts can be, and especially if you are hiking up in the hills, a sudden storm or high winds can come on very unexpectedly. The best solution is to have your own cellular weather station handy as it provides weather updates in real-time to allow you to properly plan your journey. They are cost-effective and often lightweight which makes them ideal for any outdoor excursions. Another recommendation is to speak to the local park rangers in order to get an idea about how the weather is that time of year. Additionally, make sure that you have the right clothing for the conditions. This will usually include waterproof clothing and may also include thermal layers if the weather will be cold. It is always better to wear layers than thick clothes because you can take off or put on layers as you need them.
4. Ignoring the Sun
When many hikers think about weather conditions they only consider the cold and rain, but the sun can be very dangerous for hikers, as well. There are a lot of people who end up sunburnt or suffering from sunstroke because they have not prepared for the sun before their hike. Try not to hike in the middle of the day and make sure that you apply high factor sunscreen regularly throughout the course of your trek.
Wear a hat with a peak or wide brim to protect your face, and make sure that your neck is covered too. Sunstroke can be particularly dangerous as it can make you dizzy and can lead to nausea and headaches. Try to hike in the shade whenever possible and take regular rest breaks if it is a hot day.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
It is so important when you are doing a long hike that you consume a lot of water. Many experts say that you need to drink between 0.5 liters and a liter for every hour you are hiking. Carrying enough water with you on the trail can get very heavy so try to find natural sources like springs to drink along the trail. Be very careful with the water that you drink, and boil it or use water purification tablets if you think there may be a hygiene issue.
In order to make the most of your hiking trip as well as to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer, you should make sure to avoid these mistakes. Packing all of the right equipment and using common sense on the trails will help to keep you safe and healthy at all times. Always stay hydrated and pay attention to the trail signs, and you will be a master hiker in no time.