8 Hiking Safety Tips to Protect You from the Unexpected While on the Trail


Originally Published by 52HikeChallenge.com

Do you know what to do if you…

  • Get bit by a snake
  • Sprain your ankle
  • Encounter a predator
  • Get stuck in a thunderstorm
  • Suffer from dehydration or heat exhaustion

…while on a hiking trail?


As a member of the 52 Hike Challenge, you’re going to be outside a lot, which is a beautiful thing.

But it also exposes you to potentially dangerous situations that you wouldn’t encounter at home. More often than not, the most memorable moments of your hike will consist of spectacular views, wildlife sightings, conversations with your hiking buddies and achieving new milestones in your challenge.

Regardless, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected – just in case something goes wrong while you’re out on the trail. That way, you will be able to respond to emergencies quickly and logically.

In this informative article, you will learn 8 tips that will help keep you safe during your #52HikeChallenge adventures. Find out what you should know before you go on your next hike now.


#1) Pack the 10 Essentials

Do you know what you need to bring on a hike?

According to major outdoor retailer REI, you should always hike with these 10 essentials:

  1. Navigation (map and/or compass)
  2. Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (layers for drops in temperature)
  4. Illumination (flashlight, lamp)
  5. First aid
  6. Fire (matches, flint)
  7. Repair kit & tools (knife, duct tape and more)
  8. Nutrition (snacks, meals)
  9. Hydration (water and filtration system)
  10. Emergency shelter (tarp, emergency blanket)


#2) Plan Ahead

Before setting out on your hike, be sure to familiarize yourself with the hike you’re about to embark on. Check trail conditions and know what to expect from the weather. This way, you can properly prepare for trail closures, rain, storms, fluctuations in temperature, and much more.

Before your hike…

  • Review a trail map
  • Look up trail conditions
  • Check the weather report

#3) Dress Responsibly

When it comes to hiking, what you wear matters. What you wear on the trail largely depends on where, when and how long you’re hiking. Pay attention to the weather so you can protect yourself from the elements.

Here are some clothing pointers for your next hike:

  • Light clothing to prevent overheating
  • Bright colors to be spotted easily
  • Insulated layers for drops in temperature
  • Hat and sunglasses for sun protection

#4) Know Your Limits

Do you have any physical or medical limitations that might impact your ability to hike difficult trails? Don’t push yourself too far. If you are unsure whether you’re fit for a certain trail, consult your medical practitioner. If you are pursuing a challenging or technical hike, it’s always a good idea to train at home beforehand.

#5) Hike With A Friend (Or The Whole Family)

When you hike with a friend, family member or someone you trust, you have someone to watch your back in case you run into an emergency. While hiking alone usually proves to be a great experience, there are many risks involved. If you choose to hike alone, always let someone know where you’re going before you set out on your solo adventure.

#6) Pace Yourself

Don’t over-do it. Find a pace that serves you and your fellow hikers. Then stick to it. Keeping a consistent pace will keep you from over-exerting yourself on the trail. Avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration by taking rest breaks regularly.

#7) Hydrate Often

Avoid dehydration by drinking water before, during and after your hike. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, take breaks throughout your hike to take a few sips of water. You should also know the signs of dehydration so you can tell whether you or your hiking buddy might be experiencing this life-threatening ailment.

#8) Have an Emergency Plan

Do you know what you will do if you run into trouble on the trail? How will you evacuate if you get sick or injured? While the past 7 tips will certainly help keep you safe on the trails, they are not guaranteed to protect you from a hiking emergency. And while nobody wants to encounter an emergency, it’s beneficial to have a plan in case the unexpected strikes.

Wishing you safe and happy hiking!


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