Summer is a popular time to hit the local trail scene. The kids are out of school, the weather is favorable, and the days are longer. However, before you venture out, don’t forget to properly prepare. Here are some summer hiking safety tips to ensure your adventure is fun and memorable.
Preparing for Your Hike
One of the biggest mistakes people make is not properly preparing for their hiking adventure. Decide the distance you want to hike and the time you need for the return trip. You don’t want to get caught in the dark. Check the forecast before you go and be ready for changing weather. Cancel your trek if Mother Nature isn’t going to cooperate.
Getting Lost On the Trail
This is the number one threat unprepared hikers face. Learn the trail maps and how to read them. Have a paper copy with you. Know how to use a compass. Don’t rely on modern technology to save the day. Tell family, friends, and park rangers about your hiking plans as well. Knowledge is your best defense against getting lost.
As you move forward on the trail, be sure to periodically look back to see where you’ve been. Get familiar with what the trail looks like heading in the other direction. Take note of key landmarks and crossings to remember for the return trip. Hiking without knowing what’s behind you is a common, avoidable mistake.
Essential Hiking Tips
Here are some essentials you need to know before you hit the trail.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
For shorter day hikes, basic trail shoes will do. However, for longer hikes that involve carrying a heavy backpack and challenging terrain, hiking boots are best. Make sure your footwear is well-made and comfortable to wear.
Map and Compass
Carry a map and compass with you. These tools tell you where you are and how far your destination is. They can also help you find campsites, water, and emergency exit routes. GPS units can be helpful, but don’t rely only on them.
Carry Extra Food and Water
Your body needs plenty of water to stay hydrated. Also, take extra food with you to keep your energy up. Additional food and water will come in handy if you get lost or want to spend more time in nature.
Dress in Layers
Wear extra clothing that you can shed as your body adjusts to the weather and activity levels. Take a raincoat as well. Sunglasses and a hat will shield your eyes from the sun and help ward off the bugs.
Take a first-aid kit with you, along with a knife or multi-purpose tool in case of emergency. Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. You don’t want to get sunburned or be eaten up by insects. Other safety items to pack include matches, a flashlight, and a whistle.
You will need one of these to store your essentials. Make sure it is comfortable and you are able to carry the weight. Pack smart.
Know Your Hiking Limits
Listen to your body and know your limitations. Difficult rocky terrain is not where a beginner hiker wants to be. Find a trail that matches your fitness ability.
Hiking is a great way to get fresh air and spend quality time outdoors. If you are well prepared for your adventure, you can relax and enjoy the benefits of nature with family and friends.
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