If you’re wondering ‘how to stay safe while hiking,’ we’re going to cover that throughout this article. Hiking is a fun and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.
However, it can be overwhelming for beginners to know where to start. From choosing the best trail to packing the right gear, there are many things to consider before hitting the trail. These hiking tips for beginners will help you prepare for your first hike and ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Furthermore, the mere fact of you being here means you’re interested in learning more and growing your skillset. This hiking guide for beginners will educate you on how to stay safe while hiking! Hundreds of thousands of people like yourself and interested in beginner hiking tips and their safety when hiking. I’m stoked about all the trails you’ll conquer. Let’s get started, shall we?
All links are affiliate links. They cost you nothing, but I get a small commission when you buy via the links.
How to stay safe while hiking
Have The Ten Essentials
The ten essentials are the bedrock for every hiker and will provide them with the ability to respond in case of injury, weather changes, or a delay that keeps you in nature longer than you expected. While it seems counterintuitive, you don’t need all of these for all hikes if they’re short or easy. Just use your best judgment and always prioritize your safety when hiking.
A map, phone, compass, or Satellite device can help guide you in case of trouble and is one of my favorite hiking tips for beginners.
In case of a cold night, pack warm gear to get you through the night. This can include a hat, gloves, down jacket, rain jacket, or more. Use your best discretion.
Try to carry a headlamp or light source with you.
This can be a store-bought compilation or something you’ve come up with. I recommend making your own – it’s cheaper.
Another safe hiking tip. Bring Matches or lighters in case you need to start a fire as a signal or for heat and food.
The one most people don’t bring can be the most important. Duct tape and a knife or multi-use tool can be a lifesaver.
Always bring food and try to bring more than you expect just in case things go awry. Foods high in salt will help you absorb water. Additionally, bring items that have nutritional qualities.
This is a MUST. It’s better to overpack than underpack. Look on your map for any water sources on the trail. If so, bring a filter. If not, pack extra, again, just in case.
This is less likely to happen if you take a standard day hike. While no one expects you to bring a tent on a day hike, having an emergency space blanket the size of a wallet is smart. This is one of the easiest beginner hiking tips.
Related: 9 backpacking foods
Are you looking to start backpacking? Get all the gear right here!
Check the weather to ensure hiking safety
It’s paramount to check the weather forecast and avoid hiking during the hottest parts of the day. Even if it’s not that hot, hiking in exposed terrain for multiple hours can be draining.
Be off exposed areas by early afternoon
Furthermore, if you’re hiking in the mountains, plan to start any summit approach around sunrise to help ensure you’re off the mountain – or at least exposed terrain – in the afternoon when thunderstorms appear. I’ve experienced a hail storm at 14,000 feet, and it’s not fun.
Sun protection is crucial to hiking safety
We touched on it above. The sun drains you regardless of how long you spend in the sun. But if you’re spending five-plus hours a day hiking, the sun’s rays will get to you. Make sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and use sunblock to decrease the sun’s harmful effects.
By following these key ‘how to stay safe while hiking’ pointers, they will save you a lot of stress and anxiety down the road.
Understand the hike difficulty
Safe hiking tips come down to knowing the trail’s difficulty is one surefire way to stay safe while hiking. No matter your age, you should not attempt hikes that are way past your ability. Yes, pushing your comfort zone is okay, but some people shouldn’t do certain hikes.
When using apps like AllTrails, you can search by difficulty and read reviews of the trail. This is one of my favorite hiking tips for beginners.
Are there animal threats?
Always be aware of what animals could be in the area you’re hiking in. If you’re in bear territory, carry bear spray and have it easily accessible. Additionally, in this scenario, make noise as you hike, and if you encounter a blind corner, make your presence known.
Animals do not like to be startled, especially bears.
Be friendly, but don’t tell people where you’re going
This one is, sadly, much more geared toward women than men. But it works for both genders. Being nice to people on the trail is respectful, but there’s no need to divulge personal information like where you are going. If you feel uncomfortable declining to say, just be vague and general. Most people are just asking as small talk and don’t care, but there is always the small chance someone’s personally interested.
Tell others where you’re going
Whether or not you’re hiking alone, create a trail of breadcrumbs in the event you get hurt and do not return on time. I solo hike and backpack often, and always tell two people where I am going, the hiking plan, and when I should be expected to return. I also say that if I’m not out by xxx time on xxx date, sound the alarm. This is probably my top “how to stay safe while hiking” tip.
Bring lots of water
As mentioned in the Ten Essentials, having enough water is crucial! Going light on the water can mean having a miserable time or even dying. Don’t do this. This is probably the biggest of the beginner hiking tips. Knowing where water is and how to drink it safely is one thing every hiker should know.
Plus, if there’s a water source on your hike, make sure to have a water filter with you. You can get a light one like this one for pretty cheap. You can also go for a larger gravity filter (my choice for backpacking) that is super easy.
Are you wearing the right gear?
It wouldn’t be a good hiking guide if we didn’t discuss gear. Appropriate clothing for your hike is high on the ‘how to stay safe while hiking’ list. Now, I don’t need you to look like an REI-sponsored athlete, but having appropriate hiking shoes (no vans, flip flips, and no Converse) and comfortable clothes (leave the jeans at home) will make your trip worlds better.
Lastly, being equipped to handle the elements is the number one way to prioritize safety when hiking.
Other Commonly Asked Questions about hiking safety
How do I protect myself hiking?
The best way to protect yourself while hiking is to do everything we covered in this article. Be the most prepared, telling people where you are hiking, and wearing gear that will get you from A to B will protect you.
What to avoid when hiking?
If you’re solo hiking, I would avoid going to areas known to be frequented by grizzlies or mountain lions. Animals traditionally avoid situations where they are outnumbered, and a 1:1 ratio is not great. Secondly, avoid hiking in bad weather. Now, this doesn’t mean a light drizzle. This includes blizzards, lightning, and other situations where you could get seriously hurt or lost and then succumb to freezing temperatures.
How should I prepare my body for hiking?
Everyone’s different, but I like to do a combination of cardio and weight lifting to strengthen my entire body and heart. If you’re tackling a hard hike in a few months, doing five days a week at the gym or outside with elevation gain, should prepare you in a good way!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
Subscribe to my blog!
Are you an outdoors brand or tourism board and would like to work together? Take a look at my photography portfolio here.