15 Safety Tips For Walking And Hiking Alone

safety tips for hiking alone

Whilst it’s great to walk with others, at times it’s not always possible, and some people even prefer to walk alone. However, it’s important to be aware that walking with others can be safer. So here are 15 safety tips for when you hike alone.

Preparation: Safety Tips For Hiking Alone Before You Set Off

Staying safe can be easy if you prepare well at any time, but especially if you are planning to hike aloneOpens in a new tab..

1 – Choosing your route

It’s important to be sensible when choosing your route when you walk alone. You don’t want to choose somewhere remote, that you have never been to before. So either pick a popular route that you know will have plenty of other people hiking, or one that you have walked before, ideally several times.

2 – Avoid dangerous features

Stay safe by not putting yourself at risk of natural features. River crossings can be slippery and dangerous with tides that run faster than you think. And you won’t want to slip whilst coming up or down a mountain at any time, but especially if you are all alone. So keep your exhilarating walks for when you are in the company of others and can share them.

3 – Tell someone where you are going

If you are heading out alone but no-one knows where you are, what happens if you do get into trouble? No-one will look out for you or be able to help you get over your situation. Before you head off, let your best friend or partner know your route, and an approximation of how long you will be. That way if they haven’t heard from you by that time they can try to contact you. If they don;’t get a reply then they know there is a chance that you may be in danger, and that they could consider raising an alarm.

4 – Know your limits

You probably can walk further, quicker or higher than your normal limits. But when you are out hiking alone is not the time to test those limits. If you walk too far you may get so far away from home before realising that you have had enough. If you go much quicker than you usually do, you may cause injury to muscles. And if you try to tackle large hills that you have never been on you may find that you struggle more than you expect. Keep within your limits and save those times for when you have someone with you.

exhausted man after long walk
Photo by Eduardo Flores on Unsplash

5 – Ensure you have essential resources

If you are going to be hiking alone for more than a few hours, you will need to ensure that you have food with you, unless you plan to stop in a village or town. So make sure you take a little extra, just in case you do get stuck somehow and need to keep yourself nourished. And that goes for water too – don’t run out and get dehydrated way before you finish.

What happens if you get lost and get cold as the evening draws in? Make sure you have a lightweight mid-layer and/or waterproof jacket. And if there is a chance of it getting dark, ensure you have packed a head torch to help show the way.

6 – Weather

Before you set off, check the weather forecast for the rest of the day. You may not realise that storms are due in the latter part of the day – have you got waterproofs? You certainly don’t want to get caught in a thunderstorm. Or maybe you are wrapped up as it’s cold when you set out, but the sun is due to come out in an hour and the temperature due to rise significantlyOpens in a new tab.. Have you got a sun hat and sun block, as well as enough water?

7 – Your route

You may have planned your route for weeks, and you think you know it well. But even so, make sure you take a map or guidebook with you. That way you can easily refer to it regularly, to make sure you are en route. Especially if it’s a route you have done only once and may have gone wrong then (me and Nicky almost always go wrong first time).

map of South Downs

8 – Your first solo hike

If you are heading out for your first solo hike, take it easy. Don’t over estimate your own capabilities. It’s better to start small, maybe going for just a couple of miles, on a route that you have done before, than to plan an epic journey. You can build up confidence ready to extend those walks next time. Consider doing an easy out and back route, rather than a circular route – it’s much easier to get lost on the latter.

Safety whilst hiking alone: Tips for you to remember whilst walking

9 – Meeting other hikers

If you meet someone en route and they just make you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and do your utmost to get away from them. Most people hiking are friendly and safe, but if you feel uneasy, look for an escape route or latch onto other groups of people hiking – there’s safety in numbers.

10 – Check your map

We alluded to this in your preparation, but make sure that the map or guidebook that you remembered to bring with you is actually checked, rather than just being something you are carrying. It’s better to realise you have gone off route sooner rather than later, and you can either correct or head back to where you went wrong.

11 – Don’t be scared to admit defeat

We doubt this will happen, but if you do find that you have either gone drastically wrong, or that you suddenly realise you have no chance of finishing your walk safely, then it could well be easier to turn round and retrace your steps than going on. It’s better to be safe to try another day, maybe with a friend, than to stumble on getting more and more lost.

12 – Local wildlife

This shouldn’t be as much of an issue in the UK as if you are in the wilds of Africa or America, but be aware of the local wildlife. You may not come across alligators or bears, but you may find yourself in a field of cows or maybe startled deer. Before moving from field to field take time to look up and see if there are any wildlife present. If you have a fear of cowsOpens in a new tab. it’s better to steer clear rather than find yourself in amongst them before it’s too late to turn round.

cows in a field

13 – Avoid using headphones

As much as headphones can be good for motivation and entertainment, when you are hiking alone you need to have your wits around you, and that means being able to hear what’s happening around you. So ditch the headphones.

14 – Asking for help

You may come across some difficulties – maybe getting lost, issues with blisters or maybe running out of water. Don’t be afraid of asking other hikers for help – they have almost certainly had issues themselves before, and will help set you back on track, supply you with some plasters, or either give you water or tell you where you can top up your bottle.

15 – Checking in with others

If you have told your friend or partner where you are going, why not just check in with them at certain points along the way. Call and tell them the landmarks you have reached – if you do experience issues later on and they come looking for you they will know to check from the last landmark that you told them about onwards.

Conclusion – 15 Safety Tips For Hiking Alone

It can be rewarding to walk and hike alone, but you also need to do it safely. By following these 15 safety tips you will be able to go hiking alone with confidence, ready to enjoy your walk whilst getting home safely ready to plan your next walk.

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