Are you new to hiking? Don’t worry if the answer is yes, as I have all the best hiking tips for beginners.
Here are some tips and tricks you could employ to help you stay safe on a solo day hike as a beginner. If you plan well, you will be out there weekend after weekend as long as the lovely weather holds.
1. Research, research, research
If there is one word of caution you should really take to heart, it would be to do a little digging online before setting your sights on a trail you’d like to explore solo.
Just because you’ve read a review about how amazing the scenery and wildlife are, doesn’t mean that it is as safe or easy to navigate as you’d like to imagine.
Make absolutely certain there are mobile towers close enough to pick up a signal should you need to make a distress call, and yes, bring that mobile phone with at least one charged backup battery. As long as you are in range to call for help if it is needed, that’s a big worry you can leave behind.
2. Line up emergency contacts
This brings us to another of the most important items on your safety checklist. Always line up at least two emergency contacts who will have your itinerary. While you may be staying close to home while hiking a trail in a local park, you should always hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Yes, you’ve done your research and there should be no problems reaching the outside world should you get injured or require help along the way. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law always wants to steal the day.
What if that mobile tower is out of commission or what happens if you lose or break your phone? If you should have an emergency requiring aid along the way and no way to make that call, at least there are a couple of people who know to search if they haven’t heard from you within a pre-defined time.
It is amazing just how many hikers are saved in this very way each and every year.
3. Prepare nutritional food
As far as food goes, you should always carry enough nutrients for energy to last an extra meal or two in case you should get stranded along your path. While many backpackers carry wholegrain nutrient bars, it is also a really good idea to carry along one or more meal replacement shakes.
Sometimes you like to keep a supply on hand if you are trying to shed a bit of weight, but they also make a very nutritious and tasty beverage to replace one meal a day. These are just as lightweight as a wholegrain bar but blended into a water bottle – they are amazingly refreshing.
To see just how nutritious they are, you can learn more here on the Shake That Weight website. While these nutritious shakes were specifically formulated to be used as a delicious meal replacement, they are also a good way to carry lightweight nutrition with you on the trail.
4. And don’t forget water
Along with an emergency or first aid kit, water is going to be one of the most important things to pack if your trail doesn’t have access to fresh drinking water. Some parks have fountains and facilities where others are miles from such amenities.
Water can be a bit heavy so it will take some extra planning, but there are ways to carry an extra bit if you keep some in a canteen around your waist, for example, and another couple bottles in your backpack.
5. Pack light (but planned)
It is also highly recommended that you pack well but keep it light. For example, you should at least have a small first aid kit with you on the off chance you get cut or stung by an insect you may have an allergic reaction to.
A few bandages and a topical antihistamine would be two items to keep with you as well as a few aspirins, and a lightweight Mylar sheet in case you need to weather a cold shower or a night on the trail.
If you aren’t quite sure what ‘emergency’ supplies you should be packing, check out online resources for camping or hiking survival kit lists. Some items you may be able to leave behind, but don’t ignore the ones that might be most needed and/or having the ability to keep you alive until help arrives.
The food and water mentioned above are two things you absolutely must pack. You won’t get far dehydrated and if you don’t keep your body fuelled, you may run out of energy before you run out of trail!
6. Carry a wheeled backpack
This is an idea well-suited for those who perhaps haven’t developed their core as well as they should have.
After just the first hour or two, your back may start to get a bit tight and sore. Why not carry a wheeled backpack that you can simply pull along if you need to take some of the strain of your aching back? Also, no matter how evenly you distribute the weight in your backpack, it might just set you a little bit off balance, just enough to make walking a bit tenuous.
In any case, even if you don’t have difficulty wearing it on your back all day long, it helps to know that you have that extra bit of safety in case you should need to pull it behind you.
7. Take frequent breaks
Another common mistake many new backpackers make is in trying to go long distances without taking a short break to catch their breath or to have a quick sip of water. A seasoned hiker knows the signs their body is trying to tell them.
They rarely mistake those little muscle twitches for anything other than what they are. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of muscle spasms and if you ignore the early warning signs, you could end up with severe cramping which could make it nearly impossible to continue on.
If you stop regularly for a drink of water, this shouldn’t happen but, if it does, do stay stationary until the fluid reaches and replenishes those twitching leg muscles.
8. Journal and write about your hikes
Finally, if you’ve brought along an extra charged mobile phone battery or two, this shouldn’t be a problem. Always keep one of those batteries for an emergency situation but do keep journaling anything of interest along the way.
Not only will this help you better prepare for your next hiking adventure, but it will provide memories to last a lifetime. Wear a headset so that you can talk as you walk, but don’t forget you can snap a shot or two from the camera on your phone.
Maybe your hiking journal will inspire a friend or two to make an adventure of it with you the next time around.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a group enjoying the day together? You may have started out on a solo hiking mission, but with a little help from your handy mobile phone journal, you probably won’t be trekking it alone much longer.
Remember that safety comes first and if you’ve prepared well, you should be able to enjoy a carefree day out in nature and away from the monotony of everyday life.
My Travel Tips and Recommendations
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Picking travel insurance that covers you in all eventualities is an essential part of planning a trip for every single person. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. You never know what’s around the corner.
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Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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