Hiking alone can be a peaceful and refreshing experience. The quiet of nature and the time to be alone with your thoughts is something that many people crave. However, it also requires some preparation since you’ll be on your own and will need to be responsible for your own gear and your own safety. With that in mind, use the following guide to help ensure that you have all the equipment you need for a successful solo hike.
One of the most important items you need when you hike alone, or otherwise, is the right outdoor footwear. Hiking footwear comes in many forms and the pair you choose is determined by the terrain.
You want a pair of hiking shoes that has traction and that will keep your feet protected as you walk. If there’s the chance of having to cross streams or muddy trails, a pair of muck boots or wellies is a good option. Hiking boots offer a stable base, when compared to trail runners so keep that in mind as well. However, trail runners are great for flat terrain and faster hiking speeds. You can buy boots online or find them in outdoor sporting stores.
In addition to the right hiking and camping footwear, you also want to consider what you’re wearing. The best hiking outfit is worn in layers. That way you’re prepared for any weather condition that may greet you on the trail. In the winter, start with an insulating base layer, followed by a removable middle layer.
Your outer layer should be both waterproof and windproof. As you hike, you can take off or add these layers, based on the weather conditions. You might also consider adding an extra pair of socks and a zip fleece to your pack so that you have something dry to put on if you get stuck in the rain.
In the summer, choose moisture wicking fabrics that keep you cool, but make sure you still have a jacket, like a quarter fleece, just in case it gets chilly at elevation. Any camping outfit is probably ideal for hiking as well.
Speaking of a backpack, this is a hiking essential, especially when you’re alone on the trail. It gives you a safe place to carry the items you need for your hike, leaving your arms and hands free to help steady your pace as you walk. Make sure you distribute the weight evenly so that you can hike without one side being too heavy, altering your gait.
Food and Water
It’s never safe to hike without food and water, but especially when you’re alone. You’ll want to be able to rehydrate and have a snack as you hike, but if you happen to get lost while you’re on your own, you’ll have supplies to keep you safe until you find your way or are rescued.
Proper hydration requires about a half-liter of water per hour. Bring a couple of water bottles or choose a hydration pack that allows you to sip as you hike. When it comes to snacks, be sure you have items that satisfy hunger and give you energy. Beef jerky, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and granola bars are ideal options.
Hiking alone requires a bit more diligence about safety than hiking with a group. Be sure you have a map so that you know where you’re going. Bring a paper map because your phone might not get enough reception to help you find your location. A compass is also handy to have, as it can help you find your direction if you get turned around.
You should also bring a first aid kit so that you can tend to minor wounds along the way, should they happen. A well-stocked first aid kit contains band aids, gauze, antiseptic cream, painkillers and after bite spray. Be prepared with a plan if you suffer a more serious injury while hiking alone. Always choose a trail you’re familiar with and tell someone where you will be and what time to expect you to return.
Hiking alone has a lot of benefits and having the chance to hit the trail on your own is a fun way to spend a day. The gear you bring can make or break the hike so be sure you are prepared for anything that happens along the way.