“Should I go alone or should I go with a group?” is one of the dilemmas that people think about. There are benefits to solo hiking, but it is safer to go with friends. So, before you proce [...]
Hiking Alone: Everything You Need to Know
Published: Jan 25, 2021
Hiking is good with hiking buddies, but it doesn't mean you can't go alone. Solo backpacking provokes mental relief, and allows a person to chill out for a while and have some alone time. Taking a solo trip frees you from noises and stress, and at the same time, lets you take a break and travel to a place you want, following your own specific timeline. Without other people, you can rightly plan the kind of hike that suits your needs.
Is it good to hike alone? Yes. It gives you a chance to detach from the world and reconnect with yourself. Without others, you can travel at a place and pace you want. You can challenge your limit, explore, and experience a fresh hug from nature. “Take risks and conquer your fear” — Silvermist.
Despite physical and mental challenges, hiking improves one's mood and balance, strengthens muscles, lowers stress levels and blood pressure, and enhances mental well-being. So, if you're planning to hike alone, this topic will provide you with helpful tips and guidance to have a safe and well-planned trip.
Ways to protect yourself when hiking alone
Dangers exist wherever you are, as well as the risk of exploring remote areas. As a solo hiker, you should note some ways to shield yourself against it, as you have no one to count on out there. Better be alert and prepared at all times.
Here are some helpful tips to look out for.
- Start within your comfort zone
Solo backpacking is quite challenging, especially if you're new to it. With that in mind, start your trip within your comfort zone and abilities. You need to be independent out there, so be careful on deciding how far away you'll go. Know your limits, and eventually, you'll get to handle what you desire, after you've gained experience and established confidence.
- Bring trail maps and know how to use them
There's nothing wrong with bringing a phone when hiking (specifically if you plan on taking selfies), but when it comes to directions, it's recommended not to rely on your mobile device, and instead to bring a hard copy of a map of the place you intended to explore. Also, keep in mind to familiarize yourself and study your trail map before setting off.
- Create your own itinerary and let someone know about your plans
Create an itinerary that will guide you through your adventures, where you include the route, time, and destination. Also, make sure to tell someone you trust about your planned trip, where you're going, and when you'll get back, and make sure to stick to your plan. Let your contacts know if you make some changes.
- Choose a well-traveled trail
Pick a place where you are likely to run into other hikers. This will somehow minimize your consciousness, as you have others along the way and won't feel totally alone.
- Be aware of your surroundings
While enjoying the view, always watch your steps, as some areas are bound to unpredictable dangers. Avoid engaging in difficult trails. Also, note the landmarks that will guide you back, in case you get lost. Just stay on your trail, especially if you're unsure.
- Be careful with strangers
You have to remind yourself to be extra careful as you go along. Being friendly is good, but be cautious and alert, specifically regarding strangers. It's advisable not to mention to them that you're alone.
- Pack emergency items
In your pack, include the right hiking outfit, a first aid kit, medicine, a compass, sun screen, a headlamp, fire starters, a repair kit, and a sleeping bag.
- Bring extra water
Bring at least one hydration bag with you. Refill your body with fluids and electrolytes every hour when you're hiking. Consider alternating between a sports drink with electrolytes and plain water.
Things you need for a solo hike
One of the most important things you need to pay attention to when going on a trip is whether you are well-equipped with essential hiking gear that will assist you throughout your trip.
The following are the things that you should consider.
- Trailer or hiking boots/shoes
The first thing you should never forget is a good pair of footwear. Make sure to pick shoes that are breathable and water-resistant, to keep your feet dry, warm, and comfortable. Nobody wants a sweat with moist feet while hiking. Check out our list of our favorite hiking shoes.
- Breathable hiking socks
Using breathable hiking socks will be much appreciated on long trips. It will leave you with warm and comfy feet, and will protect you from blisters. Please, note not to use cotton socks, as cotton takes longer to dry and absorbs moisture.
- Water and snacks
The most basic needs when hiking are water and food. Without anyone else along the way, carrying enough food and water for yourself during trips is a must. That way, you'll surpass your journey without passing out or feeling dehydrated. Bear in mind to never hike on an empty stomach.
- A whistle
Without other people around, bringing a whistle will certainly help you if you get lost. The sound of it is much louder than shouting if you need help.
- Hiking poles
Adding trekking poles to your items will help you stress off your thighs and knees. This can support you from pulling yourself up in the higher ground.
- A first aid kit
Accidents are unpredictable, especially when hiking. Bringing a kit with you will help you aid possible injuries, like blisters, sunburns, bug bites, and other minor or major dangers that might occur along your way. It's better to always be prepared then getting in trouble out there. Click here to see a list of the Best First Aid Kits.
- Sun protection
When hiking, you will be exposed to the sun for very long. Therefore, consider bringing a pair of sunglasses, a hat, leg and arm sleeves, sunscreen with SPF, and other sun protection in your pack to prevent you from sunburns and skin disorders. Check out our Best Sunglasses article.
- Other essential kits
In addition to your essentials, make sure you have your light, emergency shelter, fire, hydration, repairs, and insulation. These items will certainly support you if you're planning to solo hike for more than a day trip.
Things you need to consider before going on a solo hike
Solo travel is risky. It means you can't depend on anyone else to help you out. So before taking off, you need to understand what you're getting into, and figure out things that will keep you away from potential risks.
Take note of the tips below.
- Orient yourself
One of the important tips to free yourself from possible danger is to educate yourself on safety measures, from mountain climbing to hiking, gear, navigation, and survival.
- Pay attention to the weather conditions
Another thing to consider is the weather conditions, to determine if it's good to go, so that you can pack and dress appropriately. It's your responsibility to look out for your safety on the trail.
- The type of clothing you're going to wear
Wear something comfortable and adapted to the weather conditions. Use sweatproof shirts, and stretchable and light pants or shorts. Never use cotton fabrics.
- The footwear you pack
Hiking takes longer than we may think. So, invest in hiking shoes that will bring you comfort, and protect you from blisters while walking.
- Train for your hike
Long-distance walking can be a bit challenging. You may consider yourself fit, but walking is a weight-bearing exercise. So, go stretch, and take a morning walk at least three to five times a week to stay in shape.
- Pack light
Make sure to keep your backpack as light as possible. Water and food should be the only heaviest items in your pack. Doing so makes it easier to manage for longer distances.
- Never use headphones
It's really nice to listen to a nice song sometimes while hiking, but it will be best to just listen to the sound of nature and be aware of what's around you, such as other hikers, animals, or a change in weather — we never know, it might be thunder.
The five best quotes for solo hikers
Going on a solo trip can offer you the gear you need to deal with all life's adventures and misadventures.
Take your motivating and cheering hiking quotes with you as you go along on your solo backpacking plans. Here are our five favorite ones.
- “I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.” – Daphne Du Maurier
- “Some journeys can be only traveled alone!” – Ken Poirot
- There are some places in life where you can only go alone. Embrace the beauty of your solo journey.” – Mandy Hale
- “It's not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves.” — Edmund Hillary
- “Traveling solo does not always mean you're alone. Most often, you meet marvelous people along the way and make connections that last a lifetime.” — Jacqueline Boone
Hiking alone is not something everyone can do, and some people will give remarks and tell you how difficult that is. However, with the right preparation, nothing can stop you from following your desire.
So, whenever you're ready, make sure you follow all the steps mentioned above to help you enjoy a great, well-guided, and safe hiking experience.
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