We’ve all heard of the seven deadly sins: greed, lust, gluttony, anger, pride, wrath, and sloth. But in the hiking world, there are many other sins that you want to avoid. If you make a mistake out in nature, it could have dire consequences.
Let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins of hiking so you can hit the trails with confidence knowing you’re adequately prepared for the adventure!
Is Hiking Dangerous?
Any outdoor activity has risks involved. Whether you’re paddling down a river or exploring the Utah desert on an ATV/UTV, there’s a chance of an accident. So, hiking can also be dangerous, especially when hiking narrow trails on cliffsides or climbing rungs and ladders on a mountain. You should always be careful.
But if you take proper precautions and prepare before setting out, hiking will be safe. It’s important to follow specific guidelines and adhere to general safety tips. Here are a few things you should do before hitting the trail.
How to Prepare for a Hike
First, you should always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This ensures that someone will be waiting for you to check in. If you don’t, that person knows to call for help.
Second, there are certain items you should always take with you, like a whistle, compass, bug spray, sunscreen, a first aid kit, water, and snacks. In some locations around the country, you should pack bear spray. Not only are these items to keep you safe, but they’re also items to make your hiking experience more enjoyable.
Pro Tip: Make sure to download these 5 Best Hiking Apps for Finding Trails before you head out on your adventure.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Hiking
Besides telling someone where you’ll be hiking and packing the right gear, there are a few other things you should and shouldn’t do to stay safe. Here are the seven deadly sins of hiking so you can avoid making huge mistakes that could have serious consequences.
1. Hiking Alone
Even if you’ve told someone where you’re going to be hiking and when you expect to return, it’s never a good idea to hike alone. Cell service is limited in many hiking locations across the country. Should something happen, you won’t have help.
For example, if you get bitten by a snake and need immediate medical care, you’re on your own without assistance from a friend or family member.
2. Wandering Off the Trail
Not only is this a safety tip, but it’s an environmental tip. Don’t ramble on vegetation. Hikers can destroy wildlife, flora, and fauna by wandering off the trail.
They can also carry invasive insects on the bottom of their shoes into another location, leading to dire consequences. So you should remain on the trail to stay safe from steep cliffs and dangerous wildlife and do your part to protect the environment.
3. Not Packing a Survival Kit
Some of the items listed above are part of a survival kit, like a whistle and a first aid kit. Other items to consider packing include a weather radio, a battery-powered flashlight, and medications.
You never know if your day hike will turn into a night hike. There may come up a storm that causes you to seek shelter for several hours. You always want to be prepared even for unlikely circumstances.
4. Not Dressing In Layers
Hiking requires sun protection. Not only should a bottle of sunscreen be in your backpack, but you should also cover your body as much as possible. Dress in layers to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Wear a hat to protect your neck and head.
The temperature also changes throughout the hours of a hike. If you start at 7:00 a.m., you should wear long sleeves and long pants. But by the time the sun rises and starts warming the earth, you’ll probably want to shed a jacket. So think about weather conditions and temperature throughout the entire hike – not just at the beginning.
5. Not Using A Trail Map and Compass
AllTrails is a popular hiking app. The offline pro feature is great for hikers. But technology can fail. Cell phones can die or get dropped. It’s always a good idea to grab a trail map at the trailhead and pack a compass. This will help rescuers reach you should you need help. It will also ensure that you’re staying on the designed trail.
Some trails aren’t as clearly marked as others, and you want to make sure you know exactly where you’re going.
6. Not Checking the Weather Forecast
It’s crucial to check the weather forecast before you hit the trail, especially when hiking in slot canyons where flash flooding is common. Flash flooding can be catastrophic and happen in minutes. You don’t want to be stuck with nowhere to go.
Not only should you check to see about rain, but you should also check the projected temperatures. You may want to reconsider if you’re going on an all-day hike and expect the temperatures to get above 90 to 100 degrees. Find a day with more pleasant temperatures to attempt that seven-hour hike.
7. Not Packing Enough Food and Water
Finally, your body needs energy when hiking. If you aren’t constantly replenishing that energy, you’ll get dehydrated, dizzy, and sick. A rule of thumb is to carry half a liter of water per hour of hiking in moderate temperatures. If it’s hotter, you’ll want to pack more. You can carry a hydration backpack or bottles, but make sure you pack something.
You also want to pack snacks that will boost your energy and give you additional calories. This will certainly vary depending on the length of the hike. If you’re only going out for a couple of hours, you might pack a granola bar and an apple. But if you’re going to be gone all day, you’ll want to pack enough food to give you 200 to 300 calories per hour.
Pro Tip: Stay energized for your hike by packing these 7 Best Hiking Snacks to chow down on while on the trail.
What Are Essential Items To Pack For A Day Hike?
As mentioned already, no matter how long the hike, you want to pack a first aid kit, compass, whistle, bug spray, sunscreen, water, and snacks. If you’re going for a day hike that will last seven to eight hours, pack a few dehydrated meals that will boost your caloric intake.
Also, consider packing an emergency blanket, a weather radio, a knife or multi-tool, and extra clothing. Should something happen and you’re left outdoors overnight, you want to be ready.
Stay Safe, Avoid These 7 Deadly Sins of Hiking
Hiking is a great way to get exercise. It’s also a great way to connect with nature. Many hikes offer stunning views of canyons, cliffsides, coastlines, and valleys. And most people feel a sense of accomplishment after a hike. So don’t let fear keep you from hitting the trails. Just go prepared.
Where will your adventures take you?
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