How To Hike Safely
Hiking is an exhilarating outdoor activity that allows you to connect with nature, challenge yourself physically, and discover breathtaking landscapes. However, as with any adventure, accidents can happen when you least expect them. A well-prepared adventurer should always carry a comprehensive hiking first aid kit to handle these situations effectively.
What You Need in Your Hiking First Aid Kit
Bare Bone Basics
Before you hit the trail, make sure you have these basics on hand to take care of any minor injuries and nuisances that may happen!
- Pain Medication (like ibuprofen)
- Sting Relief Wipes
- Triangle Bandage
- Triple Antibiotic
- Wound Closure Strips
- Wound Wash
Welcome to the World of Modding
Everyone's different, and everyone might need slightly different supplies in their kit. That's why you're more than encouraged to make your own modifications beyond what we recommend! But if you aren’t sure where you want to modify your kit, we have some recommendations to get you started!
The Trauma Modder
If you're hiking somewhere more remote, extra sketchy, or just want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, then you should consider turning your basic hiking ensemble into the ultimate trauma preparedness kit! To do this, consider adding:
- Chest Seals (2)
- Compressed Gauze
- QuikClot Gauze or Hemostatic Powder
- Space Blanket
The Hardcore Hiker
Whether you live for the times you get to hike the day away or just enjoy a twelve-mile trail every now and then, you need some extra hiking-specific gear on hand!
- Blister Strips
- Extra Bandages
- Friction Frosting
The More the Merrier Mod
Do you like to be prepared but also wanna make the most of the space you already have? Then it sounds like you need to grab a couple of Billy-Bands and go to town with any MOLLE or MOLLE-adjacent system!
Are you just a little bit paranoid about getting stranded in the middle of nowhere (by no fault of your own, of course) and having to survive until rescue arrives? Then you need to add some survival gear to your hiking kit!
- Emergency Whistle
- Matches or Flint & Steel
- Space Blanket
- Water Purification Tablets
Modding for Personal Protection
Ultimately, you know what you need best. If you have severe allergies, you need to include an EpiPen. Do you often get headaches on the trail? Throw some extra ibuprofen in your kit. Are you a little bit clumsy? Keep extra supplies on hand for bumps and bruises. Think through whatever injuries you get on the trail most often and prepare for them accordingly. You'll be grateful for the extra preparation someday!
How to Stay Safe on the Trail
There are a lot of different things that contribute to keeping yourself safe out in nature, and it's vital that you have at least a basic understanding of how to do so. After all, you're responsible for your own safety in the great outdoors.
Know Your Limits
Hiking is a great experience for beginners and experts alike, but you definitely need to be aware of your ability level before choosing a trail. If you've never hiked in your life, maybe don't start with an eight-mile hike with a significant change in elevation. Remember, you're here for a good time, not to be helicoptered out!
Don't Take Unnecessary Risks
Yes, it'd be totally epic if you vaulted across a gorge like you're some action star, but what if you don't make it? And while it'd be so cool if you managed to scale a forty-foot cliff face, do you even have the grip strength or coordination for something like that? Essentially, if you don't have any experience doing something and it comes with a considerable risk of injury, you should seriously reconsider doing it. Humans have big brains; please use yours!
If Something Feels Wrong, it Probably is
Have you ever gotten the gut feeling that something isn't quite right? If you feel that while you're out hiking, turn around and hike out. You never know when something could go wrong, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
Staying hydrated is critical while exercising, especially if you're hiking in hot weather. However, chugging water can actually make you feel sick and force you to take a break (it does for me, at least). Besides, your body can only absorb about one quart of water every hour, so sipping water throughout your hike is the best way to stay hydrated throughout your journey. On top of that, make sure you pack enough water to get you through the hike. Try to pack around a liter of water for every two hours you will be hiking.
Don't Hike so Far You Can't Get Back
This goes along with knowing your limits. Sometimes, you just want to see how far you can go. This is a great way to test your limits, but we'd recommend doing this somewhere where you can call a taxi to take you home. If you hike halfway up a mountain, the only way back down is to walk down, burn a couple of grand to be evacuated, or tuck and roll the whole way down (a method I personally wouldn't recommend).
Stay On Marked Trails
Look, I know we all want to be trailblazers and the main character, but there are better ways to do that! Trails are there for a reason. Whether it be to protect the resident wildlife and terrain or to protect you from being one of the lucky few to skydive without a parachute, it doesn't matter. Respect the surrounding environment by sticking to the path and save the trailblazing for somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.
Watch for Wildlife
Yes, bears are adorable! No, you shouldn't touch them or any other animals you come across! Even small animals can be lethal under the right conditions. Overall, it's best to give all wildlife a wide berth and make noise as you go so they can avoid you. If you don't already know how to stay safe when encountering bears, pumas, snakes, and scorpions, you should drop everything and learn now!
Hike in a Group
This is especially true in the case of inexperienced hikers and visiting trails that may encounter dangerous wildlife or terrain. You never know when or where something could go wrong, so it's always a good idea to have a backup.
Tell Someone Where You're Going
This is especially true if you're heading out alone. By telling a friend where you're going, when you're leaving, and when you expect to be back, they can send help if things go south and you don't make it home. Just be sure to let them know you're safe when you do get home!
Check the Weather
Have you ever looked out the window, saw that it was sunny, and walked outside in shorts only to realize it's 50 degrees and miserable out there? That can happen with the weather too! By the time you get halfway down the trail, your nice, sunny day can quickly turn into a rainy hellscape. It's essential to check the forecast if you're hiking in areas where flash floods are common. You really, really don't want to get caught up in one of those!
At the end of the day, safety is the priority no matter what activity you're participating in. By following these safety tips and keeping a hiking first aid kit handy, you'll be better prepared than most!