However, even if you’re just enjoying a modest hike along well-traveled trails, there are still a few small but important preparations to make, just in case. Listed here are a few basic tips, but if you’d like more in-depth information, the American Hiking Society an excellent resource for hikers of all skill levels.
One of the worst things that can happen when you’re out hiking is to be caught without water. In the event of an unexpected injury or poor turn of weather, thirst will leave a body vulnerable to heat stroke, hypothermia, and any number of other ailments. It’s also a good idea to take along an extra snack, just to keep your energy up during that last mile. Just remember to take your trash with you!
Little pre-made first-aid kits are cheap and readily available, and they’re great to have on hand in case you tangle with some stinging nettles or get a nasty scratch. They’re also good in case you encounter another hiker in need of a band-aid or pain-reliever. Remember that not everyone is as prepared as you are!
Along with medical supplies, it’s also wise to carry a couple extra safety items. First, a flashlight is just the thing in case you get caught outside after dark (remember to also pack a fresh set of batteries). Second, a whistle weighs practically nothing, and is a much more effective way to call for help than yelling.
Take proper clothes.
It’s a good idea to dress in layers. That way whether it gets a little too hot or a little chilly, you’ve got a way to account for the weather. Also remember that weathermen make mistakes, so having a lightweight raincoat or poncho is a good way to prevent a miserable few miles of hiking while soaking wet. Another good rule of thumb is to always have a hat.
Take a friend.
The absolute best policy is to hike with someone else. Not only is this a good idea for safety reasons, but it also makes the hike a little more fun!
Before heading out, it’s wise to let someone know where you’re going and how long you’ll be. That way, if you don’t make it back, someone else knows your whereabouts.
Take it slow.
Finally, remember that there’s usually no reason to rush. Going too fast is a good way to overtax untrained muscles or stumble over an unseen rock and sprain an ankle. It’s always best to go at a relaxing pace, enjoy the scenery, and stay alert!