Hiking Safety Tips for Women Hiking Alone
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Are you a woman who is interested in hiking but are concerned about your personal safety? As a woman who hikes every month of the year, I am 100% committed to not only focusing on my personal safety as I explore the outdoors but the safety of everyone else who would like to do the same.
It sucks to say this but there are some crazy people out there and we can encounter them in spaces we least expect. Don’t read that sentence freak out and vow to stay home. Instead, focus on what you can do to stay safe as you explore the outdoors.
More often than not, I will find myself hiking on my own when I’m looking to reenergize and reconnect with nature, I just need a break from the city, or I’m looking to check out a new trail. Before I go on solo hikes, I take several precautions in order to stay safe.
Tell People Where You’re Going
This advice seems pretty straightforward, but more often than not, hikers may forget to tell their loved ones where they are going. When you’re having this conversation or text, you need to include the following information:
- When you started your hike
- When you think you will finish your hike
- The time you plan on returning home
- Where you plan on hiking
- The actual trail that you end up hiking on
If for some reason you get lost, bad weather occurs, etc. These details will help rescuers narrow their search for you.
Charge Your Electronics
Hiking allows me to be “offline” from people. When I’m in the woods, my goal is not to be on social media, to tweet my thoughts, or share where I’m at. Basically, I’m not on my phone when I’m exploring the trails.
But, I do take the following precautions:
- Charge my electronics to 100%
- Carry a small battery to recharge my phone in the event that it needs it
- Activate my location (GPS) on my phone and my fitness tracker-I typically keep those off when I’m in town because I’m not a huge fan of people tracking me. But, when I’m in the mountains, the ability to locate that information may be the difference in your surviving getting lost in the mountains.
Be Memorable-Talk to the Rangers
In my case, I’m very memorable when I speak with onsite staff because there aren’t tons of black women going on hikes every day in the mountains of Colorado.
Keeping things real. You can laugh!
So, if something happened to me, they would remember having a conversation with me. Also, wear something distinctive that activates their memory of you in the event that they are called to remember YOU!
The 10 Hiking Essentials
The previous tips focused a lot on making sure you’re safe from other people, but it would be a mistake not to mention essential hiking safety protocols that every person should make.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve encountered people new to hiking who are clearly unprepared for what could happen in nature and aren’t carrying the 10 hiking essentials that you need to carry on every hike.
As someone who regularly hikes in the mountains I’m preparing for:
- Potential changes in weather conditions
- Different terrain
- Bears and mountain lions-I’m not joking
What are the 10 hiking essentials?
- Extra water: There is nothing worse than being on a hike and getting thirsty. Other hikers in your group will be happy to share water with you, but you will definitely be side-eyed and talked about. I would also encourage hikers to carry a filter straw that would enable you to drink from rivers without risking getting sick.
- Different layered clothing: The weather can change pretty quickly in Colorado and people have gotten hypothermia or died because they didn’t bring enough layers for their hike. Even though it doesn’t rain a lot here, I always bring a raincoat and several more layers of warm clothing than I could possibly need. And, I do this regardless of the time of year.
- Extra food: Honestly, you can never bring enough food on a hike. I tend to bring trail mix, sandwiches, jerky if I’m eating meat, fruit, pasta salad, and anything that will give me a protein boost and energy for the entire hike.
- Items that create fire: Typically, I carry matches and a lighter in a water tight container so that I don’t risk getting things wet and not being able to use them if I get lost.
- Something that generates light: Even though your cellphone has a flashlight app, I would carry an led flash light in addition to your phone.
- A navigational tool: Your cell phone has GPS technology and if you wear a fitness app, that does as well. Just be careful of running out of battery.
- Protection from the sun: I wear a hat and sunscreen every time I hike.
- A way to create basic shelter: Carry something like a lightweight tarp or even one of those plastic raincoats that can be placed over a makeshift shelter in the event that you need to protect yourself from rain.
- First aid kit
- A knife
One thing that I would like to point out with this list, several of these essentials could be handled with a phone, however, I would caution would-be hikers against using your phone for those essentials in the event that your phone gets damaged.
Once you’re hiking frequently, being prepared for enjoying the outdoors safely will become second nature and everything mentioned in this post won’t be a big deal.
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Michelle Jackson is passionate about getting outdoors and normalizing POC faces in outdoor spaces. She grew up in Colorado and jokes that she’s a Colorado cliche. With a love of hiking, biking, camping, walking, and snowboarding you can find her doing one of those things throughout the year. She shares her love of Colorado via her blog and podcast Square State.