Seven hiking safety tips for beginners

As cooler temperatures settle in, hiking may be on your bucket list for this fall. Hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature, get some exercise, and clear your mind. Safety should always be a top priority, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner. In this blog, I’ll explore essential hiking safety tips to ensure your outdoor adventures are safe and enjoyable.

1. Plan accordingly. If you’re a beginner, you may think planning isn’t necessary. You may wonder why you must plan when walking on a nature trail, especially if the path is near your house. Here are some things to consider:

  • Weather. Checking the weather helps you choose proper clothing and equipment.
  • Type of trail. If you’re a beginner, shorter, well-marked trails are the ones you should hike. Save the rugged trails for the more experienced hikers.
  • Itinerary sharing. Sharing your plans with your family, friends, or neighbors is a good idea. Let them know where you plan on hiking and when you’ll arrive home. Should an emergency arise, they may be able to help you.
  • Local advice. Talk to the locals if you’re hiking in a different state or country. They can provide information that possibly can’t be found elsewhere. 

2. Invest in the proper gear. When it comes to different outdoor activities, investing in the appropriate equipment can lead to more enjoyment and increased safety. Hiking gear to consider includes:

  • Footwear. Hiking boots can provide ankle support and grip. A good pair of socks can prevent blisters.
  • Clothing. Moisture-wicking fabrics work well for a variety of outdoor activities.
  • Backpacks. These can be used to carry a variety of essential items. Items to consider in addition to food and water include:

                        A. Fire-starter
                        B. First aid kit
                        C. Multi-purpose tool
                        D. Flashlight or headlamp
                        E. Portable battery charger
                        F. Sunscreen
                        G. Insect repellent
                        H. Whistle

  • Hiking Poles. These provide various benefits, including improved balance, stability, and posture.    

3. Don’t rely only on your smartphone for navigation. Always take a paper map and compass with you. Also, pay attention to trail markers and signs along the way to help prevent you from getting lost. I’ve realized the importance of all these items when snowmobiling with friends in northern Wisconsin.

4. Hike with others. If you’re new to hiking, going with friends is a great way to learn, laugh, and assist with injuries. In my opinion, the more the merrier. 

5. Examine your fitness level. Hiking is a lot of fun, but it’s also physically demanding. Like many physical activities, you can use muscles you didn’t know you had. Staying in shape can help prevent injuries. Click here to see what exercises you can do to prepare for a hike.

6. Keep track of your distance. A benefit of hiking is that you can disconnect from your busy lifestyle. However, a smartphone, pedometer, or GPS device is recommended for tracking your distance. Enthusiasm and adrenaline may make the hike in easy. But remember, whatever distance you hike in, you must hike out. The loss of daylight or fatigue could make the hike out challenging or dangerous. Keeping track of distance can help avoid these situations.  In addition, taking extra food, water, and clothing can help if you do get lost.

7. Hike responsibly. Respect plants and wildlife by staying on designated trails and removing your trash. Lastly, avoid hiking at dawn or dusk. Animals are most active during these times.

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