Hiking alone can be an exhilarating experience. Whether you are exploring a new trail or simply taking some time for yourself, hiking solo is something that every hiker should try at least once.
However, if you want to make the most of your hike there are certain things you need to know before heading out on the trail by yourself.
In this post, I will discuss 12 tips for hiking alone that will enhance your trip and ensure that nothing goes wrong!
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Is Hiking Alone Dangerous? Is it safe to hike by yourself?
The decision to hike alone or not is a personal one and should be based on your own comfort level. Some people prefer the company of others, while others would rather go at their own pace without having to wait for other hikers in front of them.
Regardless of whether you decide to hike solo or with friends, there are certain dangers associated with hiking.
While the majority of these dangers can be avoided by using common sense and practicing good trail etiquette, there is always a risk involved in hiking alone.
A few things to keep in mind before deciding if it’s safe enough for you:
- Your level of physical fitness — Are you prepared physically? Will your body be able to handle the terrain and weather conditions?
- Your level of experience — Have you done this hike before or is it your first time hiking a particular trail?
- Weather conditions — Is there a chance for rain, wind, extreme heat, or cold on the trail? How will these affect you if they arise during your trip?
- Wildlife — Are there any dangerous animals that you may encounter? How will you deal with them?
- Physical hazards—Are there any rocks, trees, or other natural objects that could cause harm to you or others?
Depending on where you plan to hike it might be necessary to obtain a permit or pay an entrance fee, so be sure you are aware of the rules and regulations surrounding your destination before planning your trip.
12 Tips For Hiking Alone That You Should Know
Here are 12 tips for hiking alone that you should know!
1. Do Your Research
Before you head out on the trail it is important to do your research.
Look at a map of the area and plan an appropriate route for yourself that takes into account how much time you have, your level of experience, weather conditions, etc.
Do some basic planning before hiking so that you stay safe during your hike.
If you are going on a new trail that you have never done before, it is best to talk with some locals or other hikers about the conditions of the trails and any potential obstacles that you might encounter on your hike.
2. Tell Someone Where You Are Going and When You Will Be Back
You should let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return. It is a good idea to give them an estimated time of how long you plan on hiking for as well, just in case plans change!
It might also be helpful to leave the person with some details about your planned route in case they are unable to contact you by phone.
Even if you decide not to tell anyone where you are going, make sure that if something does happen to you, someone will know where to find you!
3. Bring a Map and Compass
It is very important to always bring a map of the area as well as a compass. Having a GPS device can also be helpful.
Using your map will allow you to stay on course even if you miss a trail sign or if the trail becomes unclear.
It’s also vital to keep track of how far you’ve gotten and where you’re at on your map at all times, so be sure to check it frequently!
4. Get a good night sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast
You never want to feel tired at the start of a hike. So, make sure you get a good night’s rest before going out!
This can also help you avoid injuries that happen due to you being tired or careless.
Also, make sure that your breakfast is not too heavy or greasy. You do not want to feel sick while hiking and cause yourself a lot of problems during your trip.
5. Make Sure Your Car Is Working Well
Don’t forget to make sure that your car is working especially ahead of time when you are heading on your hiking trail.
You do not want to be stranded out in the wilderness with no way to get back.
Driving a dependable vehicle will guarantee that, in the unlikely event that everything goes wrong and you have the means to get home safely.
It’s never a bad idea to swing by your local auto repair shop and make sure everything is in order before heading out to your trail!
6. Always Check The Weather Forecast
You don’t want to be hiking alone, especially during bad weather! Make sure that you check the weather forecast prior to hiking.
This way, you can dress accordingly and avoid getting wet during your hike.
Sometimes it’s better not to hike when it’s going to storm.
7. Know your physical limits
When hiking alone, you need to know your physical limits.
Do not attempt a difficult hike if it is beyond your capabilities or comfort level. This will make sure that you enjoy the hike thoroughly rather than just rushing through everything.
It is always a good idea to push yourself beyond what you thought were your limits, but this should not be done when out alone on a trail.
8. Take Advantage of A Spot Messenger / Tracking Device
You can’t always rely on cellphone reception. Sometimes it won’t work out in the wild.
Take advantage of a Spot messenger device. It’s a great way to ensure that your loved ones know EXACTLY where you are.
It basically tells people back home where you are and has options to send messages.
9. Make Sure To Carry Bear Spray With You
Now depending on where you go hiking it’s important to carry a bear spray with you. If you are going to be hiking on a trail where there are bears, make sure you carry a bear spray with you.
In general if you are planning on hiking on a trail, you want to know the wildlife ahead of time so you can take necessary precautions.
I personally use this Guard Alaska bear spray.
10. Make Sure You Bring Food With You
You don’t want to be hungry doing a hike as this can ruin the experience of the hike.
It is best that you bring food that takes a long time to eat and will last you the entire day.
Also, bringing food with you will ensure that your energy levels won’t be depleted mid-hike.
If you want lunch ideas you can read my guide on tasty day hike lunch ideas here.
And of course, don’t forget your water! You can die from dehydration in as little as three days so make sure you stay hydrated out on the trails.
11. Make Sure You Carry Proper Hiking Shoes
Another very crucial thing to bring with you during a solo hike is proper footwear.
Hiking without the appropriate footwear may be hazardous, so make sure your boots are strong and provide adequate support for your ankles, knees, hips, and other joints. While on your trip, you don’t want to suffer any strains or injuries!
Insoles are not needed however, if you want to protect your toes whilst downhill hiking or just in general, you want to get some quality pair of Insoles.
I personally use SoulInsole, they are one of the best insoles. I have tried may other insoles and none of them seem to offer the same level of arch support and comfort.
12. Don’t Forget To Carry The Essentials With You
You do not want to forget the essential items you must-have during every hike. It doesn’t matter if you are alone or not. But, it’s more important you have these since you won’t have anyone else with during the hike.
The essentials includes things like:
- First Aid Kit
- Protection Against The Sun
- Headlight Or Flashlight
- Extra Pair Of Clothing
- Fire Starter Kit
- Tent or Bivy Sack
You can read more about this in my detailed guide on How To Prepare For A Hike The Night Before!
Benefits Of Hiking Alone
There are numerous benefits to hiking alone, such as:
- Being able to set your own pace
- Get a chance for some personal time or self-reflection
- You can let loose and enjoy yourself without worrying about anyone else’s opinion.
- Being alone during a hike can also help with being more aware of nature
- It can be a spiritual experience to be in solitude.
Disadvantages of Hiking Alone
There are also some disadvantages to hiking alone, they are:
- You are at risk if you get injured
- It can be very risky if there is an emergency or bad weather.
- If someone else was around, they could help with any issues you face during the hike.
- There have been numerous cases of people that have gotten lost by themselves during hiking trips and have never been found again because no one else knew where they were going.
- You feel much safer if you have someone with you.
I personally think that these disadvantages are pretty small compared to all of the benefits, but again it really depends on how much risk you are willing to tolerate.
How can I enjoy hiking alone?
A common question that I often get is “How can I enjoy hiking alone if it’s just me?”
Few things you can do during your hike alone:
- You can try listening to music while hiking.
- Try to schedule some personal reflection or meditation time when you are out on the trails.
- Maybe try bringing a camera and start taking pictures. It can be a fun hobby to collect a couple of pictures during every solo hike you go to.
I personally love being in the outdoors and enjoy the natural views.
How do I get over my fear of hiking alone?
Many people are afraid to hike alone because they worry about running into dangerous animals or just getting lost in general.
What I suggest is to start with short hikes that don’t take too much time out of the day. This will allow you to feel comfortable with hiking on your own and will allow you to build up courage for longer hikes.
You can always go on hikes with others and then after you have experienced that trail, you can try to go hike at that trail again but alone this time.
But, whatever you do, you want to make sure you are well prepared when hiking. Regardless of whether hiking alone or with others.
Hiking alone can be very beneficial, but there are some things that you need to know in order to do it safely.
It’s important to always have a backup if something ever happened and don’t forget to make sure that someone knows where you are going!
I wish you all a safe hike alone!