Hiking is fun, but it’s important to take extra precautions before venturing into the wilderness. It’s not like you can do a quick trip to the corner 7-11 if you run out of snacks, and even a small detail like not having a fresh, dry pair of socks can turn a fun weekend hiking trip into a walk into hell. Here are some tips to help you plan and prepare.
Stay safe on the trail
There’s safety in numbers. Travel with at least two other people, ideally one of those can help you if you are injured or lost. You should also chose a hike that all of you can handle. It would be frustrating to have to turn back because someone can’t go on—and dangerous to force the issue, too. And be sure to leave word with someone about where you are going and what time you will be back.
Know the area
Every member of the group should carry a compass and a map. Always study the trail guide and map before setting out. (Just in case, read our article on orienteering without a compass.)
And check the weather conditions. However, mountain temperatures are quite volatile—it can drop by 40 degrees or more in just a couple of hours! Ask locals about the condiitons and, as a precaution, bring rain gear and clothes that you can add in layers.
What to pack
Water is essential—even just a day without water can dramatically affect your energy levels. Allocate two liters of water per person for every day. Bring high-energy foods such as sports bars, and the ever-reliable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Avoid nuts (the high fat content can be hard to digest) and fruits (which can cause an upset stomach).
As for clothes, choose synthetic materials that will help trap heat and prevent water from touching your skin. Cotton is not advisable because it tends to trap moisture.
Bring a head lamp, put fresh batteries, and pack an extra set of batteries just in case. You will also need mosquito repellant and a heavy-duty sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection.
Don’t forget to bring a first-aid kit, as well as a whistle and a pocket mirror that you can use to signal for help during an emergency.
Wear the right hiking shoes
It’s best to wear something light and flexible, such as a cross trainer that has excellent ankle support, or running shoes that are built for trails. You can also get hiking boots, but pick one that is light. Avoid anything that is too stiff and heavy.
Plus, break in the shoes on shorter treks before attempting to wear them on a long weekend hike. It also helps to wear nylon sock liners under your socks, to prevent foot irritation.
What to do in case of an accident
Do as much as you can for the victim, and then review what you need to do. If you feel you need to get help instead of attempting to return on your own, then one of your party should stay with the victim while the other searches for help. Also take down these important details: time of the accident, the circumstances, the kind of injury (based on what you see), the victim’s age and sex. Also mark your location on the map.
Take care of the wilderness
Always bring your trash with you and avoid damaging plants by staying on the trails.
Photo from destination360.com