Are You Ready for a Solo Hike?

Gideon - USSO -Hallet Peak TrailHiking is great. It’s good for your physical health, it’s god for your mental health, and it lets you see some incredible things. While some people like to share that experience with a partner or a small group, there are those who like the idea of solo hiking.

The solitude that comes with hiking by yourself can be refreshing and meditative, but solo hiking shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is especially true for extended backpacking trips, but it applies to day hikes as well. Hiking on your own is more dangerous that hiking with others, and you have to be adequately prepared. Here are 5 things to consider before setting out on your own.

You need the right knowledge. There are a few things you need to know before hiking solo such as:

  • Know where you’re going and/or know how to navigate a map
  • Know what to do in case you get lost
  • Know how to identify poisonous plants
  • Know which animals are dangerous, how to avoid them, and what to do in case of an encounter
  • Know what the weather will be like

You need the right skills. Having the right skills is necessary before hitting the trail on your own.

  • Know how to make a fire and or shelter in case of an emergency
  • Know what to do in case you get inured (rolled ankle, snake bite, etc.)
  • Would you have the skills to survive if you had to go a few days without food?
  • Know how to use your gear.

You need the right gear. Having the right outdoor gear doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use it. You need…

  • Rain gear
  • Lightweight shelter
  • Backpacking stove
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water treatment
  • Knife
  • First aid kit
  • Backpack
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes
  • Insulation

You need to be in good shape. – The better shape you’re in, the more enjoyable hiking will be, but when it comes to solo hiking, being fit is necessary. You have no one other than yourself to rely on, so you need to be fit enough to complete your hike, and fit enough to avoid injury. The better shape you’re in, the less likely you are to suffer an injury during the course of your hike.

You need to give someone your travel details. – So you’re the quintessential mountain man, with the knowledge and skills to pay the bills, and your gear closet looks like an outdoor goods store. You’re as fit as a fiddle, and you have plenty of hiking and survival experience. That can all be negated by an unseen tree root, a loose rock, a flash flood, or some other force of nature. You should always leave your trip itinerary with someone just in case things don’t go according to plan. Write out when and where you’re starting your trip, the trail that you’re taking, and when and where you expect to finish your trip. This should be done even on a day hike, as it could end up saving your life.

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