Many travelers will find that an easy and inexpensive way to discover the area they are visiting is to go for a hike. Every traveler has a different approach to this in terms of the difficulty and remoteness of the hike they want to undertake. Some will be find with a walk on the beach, while others will want to undertake a strenuous hike in the mountains or even an overnight trek.
Every hiker has their own unique way of handling their upcoming hiking exploration. Regardless of on or off trail hiking outings, outdoor safety should always be in the forefront on planning. There will always be basic principles of safety that every hiker, tenderfoot or advanced, should know. It is easy to become too confident, however, so these are some safety guidelines that hikers should always take note of. The following are five of safety tips that could protect the life of a hiker and the lives of any party members they take along with them.
Plan the Trip
Carefully planning the trip, for many hikers, may seem like a safety tip that takes the fun out of spontaneous hiking adventures. When you plan a trip you do not always have to stick to a specific route or plan out every second of the hiking excursion. Instead, stick to the basics. Pick a route that fits with your abilities. In other words if you don’t have the ability to use a topographical map and compass well, then you should always stick to well marked trails instead of going off trail. Above all, make sure you select a hiking plan that fits your own individual health and body limitations. When traveling in areas you are unfamiliar with, especially in foreign countries, it is wise to seek out local knowledge about any unique hazards that may be present.
Carry the Right Stuff
Gear up according to the anticipated terrain and conditions for the hike. Make sure you have the appropriate gear and clothing to handle the hiking route you have chosen and the possible weather conditions. Spare food, water (or water purification tablets), headlamp (or flashlight) and spare warm clothing are items every hiking group should have. A small first-aid kit, map, compass, and fire-starting tools (waterproof matches or lighter and a candle) are also crucial, but also come with the obligation for learning how to use them. A pocketknife or Leatherman type tool can also be important and sunscreen, sunglasses and a sun hat will probably be essentials depending upon conditions.
Tell more than one person know where you are going. Again, you do not have to give a full itinerary of every moment you will be hiking. Just let them know a simple outline of your hike and when you plan on being in touch. Scan or take a photo of your map as well as draw your route on it and then email it to dependable family or friends. You can even put the sketch of the on your Facebook page or other form of social media that family and friends can get access to conveniently. Set the trail image to private and allow only those very close to you to be able to access it. This will allow them to supply the trail map to nearby officials if an emergency arises. If somebody knows when you will be coming back, is waiting for an email, quick call or online post from you and doesn’t hear from you then they will be able to contact the appropriate authorities with the proper information to find you easily.
Take a Communication Device
An avid hiker may think of bringing a satellite phone, but let’s face it, not many people have access to such extravagances. A far less pricey option is a “Personal Locator Beacon” such as the Fast Find models which have no monthly service fee and can dispatch a satellite “SOS” from almost anywhere on the planet. The fact is that most hikers and outdoorsman rely on their cell phones for communication while on or off the trail. The primary disadvantage with a cell phone is that there is not always good coverage in isolated hiking areas. For extended trips consider bringing an extra phone battery with you for circumstances where you find yourself caught in a crisis situation and need the additional battery life.
These are just a few of the tips and advice hikers as well as all outdoors-people ought to keep in mind. Safety on the trail is one thing, but safety before ever packing a bag or gearing up is also something useful to consider. For more online resources check out the advice from the outdoor safety experts at the Outdoor Safety Institute or for regular updates follow their Facebook outdoor safety page.