If you are looking for some lifesaving tips for an amateur hiker, then you have come to the right place.
While hiking could be fun and a favourite pastime for the adventurous, it could turn dangerous; especially for the new amateur hiker. Hence, these tips could come in handy.
In this article, I will share some of the most salient lifesaving tips for an amateur hiker that I have picked up over the years. And while I am writing for the amateur hiker, veteran pro hikers will also find these tips useful.
Let’s get on to it.
Make Sure To Study Routes, Maps, and Reviews
AllTrails (1) will provide all the information you will be needing on most of the hikes in your locale. This app is a MUST for all new hikers. Even experienced hikers find it indispensable.
An app like AllTrails comes with helpful information like:
- Start of the trailhead
- Check your route and then look for topography maps that can be downloaded and accessed offline
- Elevation gain, average time and distance are extra features that you can look out for.
This tool is a favourite of most people on outdoor camping or hiking trips and it would come in handy for the amateur hiker.
Plan Your Route
Having picked out your trail, the next thing would be to plan the hiking trip. Things can easily go wrong with an unplanned hiking trip.
This would entail packing the required items for the trip, and for the trip duration as well. In addition, getting some other interested hikers and going as a group will be a good idea.
Check the Weather
As an amateur hiker, you need to really pay attention to the weather.
Pick a day that promises optimal sunshine. You wouldn’t want to be trudging through a wet windy meadow when new to hiking.
If you have already planned your trip, and then the weather changed suddenly with heavy downpours, lightning and thunder, then consider cancelling your trip.
Lightning and thunderstorms are two elements that do not go well when on a hiking trip to the top of a mountain.
Tell Someone Your Plan
If you are an amateur hiker, please do tell someone about your hiking plan; especially if you are hiking on your own.
Things could go wrong, and if you don’t make it back as planned, it would be easy to call a Search and Rescue team on your behalf, that’s if you told someone your plans earlier.
This is a very important part of your first trip as an amateur hiker. You need to pack right. For instance, when on a day hike, pack a down jacket and rain jacket as well. Or better yet, get a down jacket that is waterproof, like the one below.
- Helly Hansen go-to marine all purpose jacket; waterproof and breathable fully-fleece lined with warming collar and long...
- Outdoor lightweight and high breathability gear with Polartec 100g fleece lining for extra performance, durability and...
- Comfortable from outside and inside: featuring Helly Tech Technology to keep water molecules out and allow sweat vapour...
And depending on the hike, go with items like gaiters for snow, gloves, extra socks, a hat and microspikes.
These are just some of the important items that you should consider having with you.
While it is important to pack right as I mentioned above, that doesn’t mean you should overdo the packing. As you will be carrying everything on your pack, it is important that you pack light; but pack right.
Pack what you believe you are going to need, and then some emergency items like a first aid kit, an extra energy bar and a packet knife.
Get a Fitting Backpack
Pick a backpack that will hold all you want to carry comfortably. The backpack should fit your frame.
Men and women have different frames, and what is good for a man might not go well with a woman’s frame; so, if possible, go to a store and buy a backpack yourself instead of just buying online.
Consider an inReach
A good tip for an amateur hiker is to get the Garmin inReach that allows for a navigational GPS and thus keeping you safely on the trail.
Should you ever be in a life-threatening situation or should an emergency come up, all you need do is ping inReach who then notifies Search and Rescue to save the day.
This is a lifesaving device that sends smart messages and allows family and friends to track you while on the trail.
Yes, it’s expensive but totally worth the cost so you can hike away with peace of mind.
Pack the Appropriate Amount of Food
A top lifesaving tip for an amateur hiker is to pack food wisely. You would need to know how long you are going to be hiking, and then pack the adequate amount of snacks to give you that needed energy.
Do add some extra snacks in case things don’t go as planned. As a matter of fact, pack up some homemade energy balls, candies, an energy bar and dried fruits.
Bear in mind that you are going to be burning more energy than usual, and most likely going to get hungrier than usual.
Invest in Proper Hiking Boots
Don’t be stingy on yourself. Get some solid good hiking shoes and boots. This is perhaps the most important hiking gears, and you need a really good one.
When picking your hiking shoes, you need to pay attention to comfort and fit. Once your feet get tired and uncomfortable during a hike, the rest of you usually goes along.
- Dynagrip outsole
- Standard footbed
Great hiking shoes could end up being a lifesaver.
Invest in the additional Hiking Gear
Aside from getting very solid and comfortable hiking shoes, and a good backpack as I mentioned earlier, an amateur hiker might consider investing in some additional hiking gear.
The fact is, the cost of hiking gear can add up and get really expensive.
However, we are talking about a fun and risky pastime here, so if you plan to do it, then do it well and minimise the risks by getting the required hiking equipment.
Avoid Hiking On Your Own
Many seasoned hikers do enjoy solo hiking, but for the amateur hiker, this is a sure no-go area. This should be avoided like a painful boil.
For the amateur hikers first few hikes, it is advised to go with a friend or some local groups so you have someone to chat with, and in case of an emergency.
Beginner Hikers Should Start Early
For beginners and amateurs, it’s a good thing to start off early. It’s very risky to start off too late, and then end up coming off a trail while dark.
Make sure there is enough time to finish up a hike before embarking on it; unless the intention is to hike at night, in which case, you ensure that you have a headlamp among your gears.
Pack Bear Spray
A hiker’s worst nightmare is to bump into a grizzly bear. You might not have enough time to say your last prayers.
While the chance of bumping into a bear is really low, it pays to be cautious and pack a bear spray. It’s among the most essential items you should have in your pack.
There are many grizzly and black bears around North America, and while you might never come across them, if it does happen your only defence will be the bear spray. No amount of shouting or running can save you from a bear if you forgot to pack bear spray.
Also, the bear spray should be close to hand in your pocket somewhere. Do not place it deep down in your backpack where you cannot get to it easily. Bears are not the only animals to be aware of, as there could be other dangerous animals roaming around.
Don’t Forget Sunscreen
While the harsh sun may not outright kill you, it could add to the stress of hiking as you get very uncomfortable. Put on the sunscreen not just on your face, but on your neck, arms and legs.
Also, remember the back of the ears. This part of the body is often gets neglected.
Final Thoughts on Some Lifesaving Tips for an Amateur Hiker?
While hiking might be fun and a favourite pastime for the more adventurous among us, it pays to maintain some lifesaving tips, especially for the amateur hikers.
While this article is targeted for the amateur hikers, veteran seasoned hikers should also take note as well.
Enjoy your hiking trips and be safe!