Hiking safety is something you really need to think about as accidents do happen, from cow-related deaths (yes really) to people slipping & falling when scrambling jagged peaks. We are not here to scare anyone, we’d just like to share a few things not to do when hiking, including some that we have learned from our own silly mistakes.
The thing is, a safe hike is a happy hike, a hike where you’ll be able to come back & rave about those amazing views & the accomplished feeling of reaching that tough to get to peak. Hiking is much more fun when you are prepared & that’s exactly what this post is here to help you to be.
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Written by The Wilder Route on 14th May 2021.
Why Is Hiking Safety Important?
Hiking safety is something that should be taken very seriously, after all, no one wants to be stuck on the edge of a mountain injured when the weather is setting in or it’s about to get dark & the only prospect looks to be spending the night shivering & in pain.
We’ve had a few incidents when hiking ourselves, in which a little preparedness & some quick decision-making has been the difference between us returning unscathed as opposed to not.
In reality there are lot of things not do when it comes to hiking safety, below we’ve listed, based on our own experiences, just a few.
1. Don’t Wear Sandals Or Flip∼Flops
This may seem obvious but we have seen people out hiking in flip-flops & it’s not a good idea. One slip & those ankles aren’t going to be protected, not to mention the possibility of stubbing those big toes – ouch!
Proper hiking boots not only provide support for the feet & ankles, but they also allow your feet to breathe & if you have a waterproof pair (which we’d recommend) they’ll stop your feet from getting soaked – trust us when we say, there’s nothing worse than wet feet when hiking.
2. Don’t Get Caught In The Dark
We’ve seen mountain rescue out looking for people left on the mountains in areas such as Snowdonia National Park & the UK’s Lake District when the sun is about to go down.
In actual fact, one time we saw a helicopter when we were rushing back down a mountain in Snowdonia National Park because we had stopped & taken too many photos that day so the hike took a lot longer than planned. We had very low phone batteries (due to all the photo-taking), no torches & were not prepared for the nighttime cold, so yeah, pretty silly!
Checking sunset times & planning accordingly so that you are not stuck out in the dark when hiking is key. Trails are harder to follow when it’s dark & if you are lost & are panicking (possibly because it is dark) that will only make the situation worse.
As we have learned safety on the mountain is your responsibility so make sure you give yourself enough time to descend before sundown.
3. Don’t Rely On Trail Markers
Whilst it may seem like a great idea to rely on following a marked trail, even a well-maintained one – just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should. Having a map to either follow or at least as a backup is vital for mountain safety.
What if the weather changes & you can’t see the trail properly? Or you take a wrong turn & lose the markers?
A paper map is always advised, even if just as back up for your phone maps, which you can nowadays use offline by installing apps such as Maps.Me (which works worldwide) or OS maps (UK only).
4. Don’t Come Unprepared For The Weather
There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Ok, ok, there is, rain is not always the most pleasant but not being prepared for it makes it bloody awful. Equally though, stifling heat can be terrible & dangerous when hiking.
Keeping an eye on the weather – we use mountainforecast.com will help to be prepared.
Having enough water with you to stay hydrated with more if the sun is going to be out as well as something to cover your head & a high factor suncream (we recommend SPF 50 for hiking) to keep you protected from those rays is crucial. For colder & wetter weather, a decent raincoat, windbreaker, lots of warm layers (that you can easily take on & off) & a beanie is what we always bring.
Looking for some new comfy hiking layers? Check out our very own organic clothing range Nature Threads.
5. If Hiking Alone Don’t Keep It A Secret
We won’t say don’t hike alone because hiking alone can be awesome, just make sure you let someone know where you are going & when you expect to be back.
If you have a friend or family member to check in with when you finish hiking then great or if you are staying somewhere letting the accommodation staff know where you are going can help if you run into any trouble.
When it comes to hiking safety when hiking alone, be sure to stick to the trails & if possible choose well-trodden routes where you’ll encounter other hikers along the way.
6. Don’t Get Dangerously Close To The Edge Or Any Animals
Getting that Instagram-worthy shot, normally involves standing on a precarious-looking edge which is fine but please, make sure you have your footing & don’t stand so close that if you did slip or a gust of wind blew, you’d fall right off.
Equally, animals can be dangerous, such as cows charging or horses bucking out – just keep a safe distance & know that animals are more likely to freak out when they have their young with them. Seriously we got charged at by a cow with her calve in Colombia & we had to leap over a barbed wire fence to escape it, it was so freaking scary.
Ready To Get Out There & Hike Safely?
Good, because none of what we have written above is here to put you off, it is here to help you be ready to enjoy the joy & wonderfulness that hiking brings.
Hiking is one of our absolute favourite things to do, following everchanging trails up to remote & majestic peaks, connecting to & truly being at one with nature & wandering where other humans rarely go – we love it & we hope that you have an awesome time hiking too.
Here’s to your next (safe) adventure,
Kelly & Adam x
P.S. looking for some hiking inspiration? Check out our fav outdoor & hiking peeps to follow.
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