Feeling Safe & Empowered in the Outdoors
Hiking and connecting with the great outdoors can have an exceptionally positive impact on your life, benefitting your physical and mental health, as well as expanding your trust and confidence in yourself.
However, getting out in nature doesn’t come with its’ risks, and it’s important to know how to prepare beforehand and what precautions you should take when out on the trail. Being prepared will help you feel more confident and self-reliant.
I’ll get straight to the point, keep reading to learn a handful of my top tips for staying safe in the outdoors! 👇
Feeling Safe & Empowered in the Outdoors
1. Know what to bring and how to use it
This includes (but is not limited to):
- The 10 essentials:
- Navigation (map/compass, GPS, offline maps)
- First Aid Kit
- Light source (headlamp, flashlight)
- Shelter (tent, emergency bivvy, tarp)
- Repair kit (duct tape, multitool, knife)
- Sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses)
- Fire source
- Extra food
- Extra water
- Extra Clothing
- Some form of protection
- Water & electrolytes
- Bathroom kit
- Necessary medications
Knowing how to use these items and actually trying them out before you hit the trail will help keep you safe and help you feel more comfortable.
2. Tell someone where you’re going and when you
expect to be back
If there’s one thing you should take away from this guide, it’s this tip right here. If you don’t tell people where you’re going, how are they going to know to check up on you or when to expect you back? You have to tell SOMEONE.
Download my FREE Hiking Itinerary to fill out and share with a friend/keep in your car for your adventures! I like to put this face down on my seat or dash, with the Date and “Shelby’s Hiking Itinerary” on the side facing up, since that will tell rescuers that it contains useful information and not some random piece of paper.
3. Know How to Prevent Injury
- Have proper hiking footwear – good supportive shoes that have already been broken in on shorter trails to help avoid blisters, and wear proper hiking socks (merino wool or synthetic blend, avoid cotton as this will hold onto moisture)
- Trekking poles are fantastic at helping reduce injury because they take a lot of pressure off your knees.
- Keep a steady, consistent pace – if you can maintain a conversation you are probably keeping a good pace; if you can’t, slow down a bit!
- Be sure of your footing by taking smart and secure steps as you hike, especially on rocky trails or trails with loose scree.
- Taking a Wilderness First Aid course is also a great idea if you plan on spending a good amount of time on the trail!
4. Know Before You Go
Some things you should do before every hike:
- Research the hike prior to hitting the trail to know what gear you need
- Check out the general location and trail conditions online
- Look at the weather forecast and even weather patterns if its an unfamiliar area
- Know what wildlife inhabits the area and how to reduce/prevent wildlife encounters, as well as what to do if you can’t prevent them
- For example, if you know you’re in bear country, you can help prevent encounters by storing food properly (in bear cans, etc) and making noise while you hike. You can carry bear spray to help keep yourself safe in situations where you may not be able to prevent an encounter. If you were to encounter a black bear, you would know to NOT approach them, to avoid direct eye contact but not lose sight of the bear. Have bear spray ready and spray it if the bear comes within 25 feet of you.
- Know how to navigate and study the map/trail so you have an idea of what you’re in for in terms of elevation gain, distance, terrain, etc.
- Always download a digital offline map for every hike to follow along and know exactly where you’re at on the trail at all times. I have a secret hack to do this for free, rather than paying for map subscriptions. Keep reading and enter your email below to get access to my video teaching you how to download offline maps for FREE!
5. Use your skills and tools
Part of being in the great outdoors is being able to adapt to situations quickly and be ready for change at any moment. Conditions can change quickly or things won’t go as planned, so it’s important to use your skills to keep you safe. This can look different depending on the person, but some things that can be helpful are:
- Navigation skills
- Be aware of surroundings and pay attention to what you see along the way (eg. Identifiable features such as large trees or boulders, forks in the trail, peaks, etc) and be aware that things will look a little different on the way back.
- Carry some form of protection and understand how to use it and when
- Use and strengthen your intuition
Hitting the Trails
It’s time to hit the trail, start climbing mountains and finally chase your dreams. Don’t live in fear of the what-if’s; instead, take control and learn how to prepare yourself.
- Afraid of bears? Learn how to prevent bear encounters and what to do if you do encounter one.
- Afraid of human encounters? Carry protection you’re comfortable bringing and know how/when to use it.
- Afraid of getting lost? Learn how to navigate. Start by learning how to download high quality offline maps for FREE to keep yourself safe in the outdoors!
Being in the great outdoors comes with risks, however that doesn’t mean they aren’t manageable. Just like the hike itself, preparing is like putting one foot in front of the other.
© 2022 Ground Up Adventures