Solo Hiking: How to Prepare and What You Need to Know
Enjoy hiking but skeptical about going solo? It may sound like a simple thing to hop in the car and go, but there are many things to consider when solo hiking. Here are some things you may want to prepare to assure your safety.
Table of Contents
- First Things First: Decide Where You Want To Go
- Prepare Yourself For Solo Hiking: Looking For Gear Online Can Save Your Time
- Take Precautions: Carrying The Good Old-Fashioned Map Is Always A Great Idea
- Check The Weather Before Your Solo Hiking: A Definite Must!
- Make Sure You Are Well Hydrated!
- Be Respectful To The Environment!
First Things First: Decide where you want to go
First things first you need to decide where it is you would like to go. The internet is full of information, so take a look at there. Online you can search for your location preference. If you want to stay close to home or make it a road trip, you can search accordingly. The web page may even include printable maps.
Do a little research on the place you have in mind. Look for posts and blogs from others who have been to where you want to go. See what they have to say about their experiences there. Are there any reviews written in the park? Any listed pros and cons of specific trails for solo hiking? How are they marked? Are they rated for your skill level? Is the terrain more hills or flat ground? There are many groups and forums online these days where you can read and exchange experience for solo hiking.
Prepare yourself for solo hiking: Looking for gear online can save your time
Looking for your gear online can save time. Go check out your local stores outdoor section. Get whatever necessities you know you will need. If you are not sure, you can always ask a store associate what they recommend, or check reviews online.
If you know someone who is an avid hiker, ask what they would recommend. National parks are the right choice. Read our recommendations for national parks here! There will most likely be a ranger there who can point you in the right direction if needed. Discuss any questions or concerns you have, and they should be able to help you out.
Although having a partner with you is never a bad idea, you shouldn’t let it hold you back from that much-needed trail time. If possible, carry a phone on you and allow at least one person know where you will be. You may not know exactly how long you will be gone but give them a rough estimate at the least. If you say, you plan only to spend the entire weekend they will know to contact the proper authorities.
Take precautions: Carrying the good old-fashioned map is always a great idea
Navigation is one of the most important things to factor in when hiking. Carrying a map with you is something you will always want to practice unless you know the trails like the back of your hand. You wouldn’t want to go into unknown terrain and risk getting lost. If you are able, drop a pin on your google maps when you begin as an additional safeguard. Remember your phone battery could die, so you don’t want to rely solely on that. You may even want to make your notes of checkpoints along the way. It will help you understand how much ground you have covered and about how far you have yet to go.
If it is a place, you do not know you may want to take extra precautions. After looking into the info on the chosen park, find out which trail is traveled most often. In the event you would need help, choosing an accessible path is a wise decision. If you are planning to camp out overnight make sure you have packed the extra gear to get you through. If it is not too far from your home, go check out the trail during the day ahead of time. Maybe you will run into someone, and they can give you some additional tips or pointers when taking that trail.
Check the weather before your solo hiking: A definite must!
Checking the weather before heading out is a definite must for a successful trip. Proper dressing is essential to help you stay comfortable on your venture. Make sure you have the right shoes or boots for the terrain. Boots can sometimes leave you sore by the time you reach your destination. Tennis shoes are perfectly acceptable on the trails. Whichever you decide to go with is your personal preference. If you need help with your decision check this guide! I would advise never to use brand new footwear when heading into the woods. They may seem comfortable when you try them on but doesn’t mean they will still feel that way an hour into your hike.
Make sure you are in excellent physical condition for the trails you are choosing. Choose the one you are sure to succeed in finishing. Know your limits on how far you can push yourself safely to make sure you not only enjoy yourself but avoid any injuries. Factor in however much additional weight you will be hauling in your bag of gear. Think about different scenarios you have encountered in the past. Is there any that left you wishing you had brought a specific item?
Make sure you are well hydrated!
You will want to make sure you are well hydrated and have eaten a well-balanced meal. High protein and carbs will help you keep the energy you need to complete your journey. Have UV protection such as sunblock, glasses, or a hat if it will b a sunny day. Always keep a first aid kit with you as you never know when you could need it. Bring something that you can defend yourself with if there are any animals you could be at risk with if encountered.
Have a backpack filled with plenty of food and water. Fruits and things like trail mix are easy to eat on the go. Being overprepared is never a bad thing to do as long as it doesn’t significantly weigh you down. If you are familiar with the place, you may choose not to bring as much gear as a place you have never been to before. The backpacking could also change depending on if you plan to camp overnight or go for the day. Ultimately it is your choice and what you feel comfortable with when it comes to solo hiking. A Firestarter or matches are something I would always have with me. Although they don’t take up much space in your pack, they could be the little thing big enough to save your life.
Be Respectful to the Environment!
Lastly, be aware of proper trail etiquette. Always be respectful of the environment, wildlife and the people in it. When you leave, there should be no trace that anyone had been there. You have to make sure you don’t leave anything behind.
If you follow these basic guidelines as well as using your best judgment, your solo hiking should be a breeze. I hope you found the information here helpful to hit the trails and have a pleasant walk confidently! We strongly encourage you to do it and will be glad to hear about your experience with solo hiking!