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Staying Safe on the Trail

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Backpacking and hiking are activities that can help you distance yourself from the rest of the world and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. However, we still need to take precautions and plan our trips with care so we can return safely.

Here are some tips on how to stay safe when planning your backcountry adventures.

Be Prepared

  • FOOD AND WATER - Always be prepared with enough food and water before taking on a trail. Know how long your hike will take and pack enough food, if possible, pack a little extra just to be safe. Make sure you know if there is available drinking water on the trail so you can plan on how much water to bring and if you will need water filters or additional containers. On the other hand, try to bring a small water filter even if you are certain there is available potable water on the trail just to be sure you will always be hydrated. Check out our articles on Camping Food for more information.
  • MATCHES - It is always smart to have matches or a lighter when camping should you need to light a fire. Just make sure that it is allowed in the park and only use them when absolutely necessary.
  • FIRST AID KIT - Bring with you a basic first aid kit should you have an accident on the trail. Keep it in a small pouch or bag that is easy to access and do not bury it in your bag along with your other stuff.
  • CELL PHONE - Although we normally recommend you refrain from any devices while on the trail so you can enjoy the great outdoors instead of looking at a screen; we suggest that you still bring a charged cell phone with you in case of emergencies. There are even some phones that have emergency features that are designed for hiking.

Be Aware

  • WEATHER - Find out the weather forecast for the area when planning your hike. This will help you decide on what to bring and wear for the trip and when it is best to schedule the hike.
  • MAPS - Although you may have a smartphone that has GPS and can track where you are, it is still best to carry a real map in case the reception in the area is bad or you run out of battery.
  • RULES - Know the rules and regulations implemented in the park so you have an idea of what you can and cannot do. Some of the regulations could cover starting campfires, human waste management or bringing pets on the trail. Know these rules are in place not just to maintain the park but to keep both the hikers and wildlife in the parks safe.
  • PLANTS AND WILDLIFE - Find out what plants and wildlife are on the trail. This will help you know what to stay away from and look out for, but also know what fruits are safe to eat should you need to forage for food. Just remember to only forage when absolutely necessary.
  • OTHER HIKERS - Be aware of other hikers on the trail. Be friendly without overstepping your boundaries. Knowing if there are other people on the trail with you is important should you have an accident and need assistance.

Be Respectful

  • BE QUIET - Manage your noise. Do not shout or raise your voice to show respect for other people on the trail with you. This will also prevent attracting possibly dangerous wildlife to you.
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - Always follow the Leave No Trace principles to keep the parks safe and maintain them for future generations. Check out our article on this for more information.

Let People Know Where You Are

  • FAMILY - Inform your family or friends about your plans. Make sure that they know when and where you are going and how long you expect to be away. If you need to extend your hike or reschedule, make sure to update them as well and provide them with both your contact number and of the park if possible. This will be very important if you get lost.
  • TRAILHEADS - Make sure to always register when you reach a trailhead. This will keep track of where you are and will be very helpful should you get lost or need assistance.

By following these simple rules you can stay safe and enjoy your next outdoor adventure to its fullest. Let us know if you have other suggestions by commenting and check out the rest of our blog for other great tips.

References

Safety and Crime Prevention
Trail Safety

Aware Camping preperation Camping Safety Hiking preperation Hiking Safety Prepare Safety Tips and Resources Trail Safety

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