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30 Essential Hiking Safety Hacks For Safe And Well-Organized Adventures

30 Essential Hiking Safety Hacks For Safe And Well-Organized Adventures

Those of us who soaked up the Oprah-recommended book called “Wild” got to live vicariously through author Cheryl Strayed’s adventures as she white-knuckled her way through a precarious hike up the Pacific Coast Trail.

Those of us who don’t want to experience the foot-bleeding, skin-peeling, moose-fleeing drama that she faced during her arduous journey would do well to follow these 30 hiking safety hacks.

1. Get great-fitting boots

hiking-boot

    Boots that fit improperly can make you suffer from unnecessary blisters and lost toenails. Grabbing a pair (or two) of the best-reviewed hiking boots on Amazon that aren’t too tight or way too big for your feet is critical.

    2. Walk around with your backpack before leaving

    file000951498193

      If you pack too many items in your backpack, you’ll needlessly suffer from carrying a heavier load that necessary. Test out picking up, toting and putting down your intended load on your back while still at home, before embarking on your journey.

      3. Send yourself supply boxes ahead of time

      IMG_2356
        Instead of trying to carry everything but the kitchen sink on your back, send yourself boxes full of supplies at pre-planned points at post offices along your trail hike – especially if it’s an extended walk.

        4. Make sure to learn what’s poisonous and what’s edible

        As chronicled in the popular book and movie called Into the Wild, Christopher McCandless died most likely as a result of eating a mold-filled plant or from confusing wild sweet pea seeds with those of another flora. The crucial lesson to be learned is to ensure what you’re eating is safe.

        5. Give up if the hike becomes too dangerous

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          Don’t be so set in stone on following your hiking plan that you’re not willing to make changes. Certain seasons bring inordinate snowfall and ice or other treacherous conditions to some trails, making them impassable.

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          6. Take a buddy if you feel led to do so

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            There’s safety in numbers. Though we love to read the tales of folks brave enough to venture off on solo hikes, it helps to consider bringing others – especially more experienced hikers – along on your trip.

            7. Know your trail

            staceywhitaker

              Use a map, GPS device and compass to figure out where you’re going, but make sure you’ve also studied every nuance of the area you’re planning to hike – and that you know how to use landmarks to determine where you’re going, just in case all of those devices become lost.

              8. Bring sufficient snacks

              file0006459259

                Keep consuming enough high-quality calories to give you energy for your hike. Stuff your bag with freeze-dried foods that are both lightweight and nutritious.

                9. Check out a menstrual sponge

                Yeah, I’d never heard one either until I read the report of Strayed, the female hiker who used a menstrual sponge to collect her monthly flow. She’d wash it and reuse it instead of dealing with sanitary napkins and tampons.

                10. Hang your food

                Always hang your food or use a bear canister in order to keep it safe from animals, and to help prevent critters from sniffing around near you, advises the Washington Trails Association.

                11. Take enough water

                bottle-of-water

                  Even if you anticipate running into drinkable, fresh-water sources along your path, realize that it’s healthy to bring a water bladder full of liquid in order to keep you well hydrated each day.

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                  12. Sunscreen is critical

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                    Even if it’s the dead of winter, the sun can still beat down on you in dangerous ways. Protect your skin with sunscreen lotion that contains a high SPF factor.

                    13. Learn how to safely start a fire

                    mf664

                      Even if it’s raining, it helps to follow the Boy Scout rules on how to still use collected wood, your handy pocket knife and starter accessories to get a fire going that can keep you warm, give light and cook your food.

                      14. Bring extra Band-Aids

                      Experienced hikers say that you can rarely have enough Band-Aids – even more than are found in the standard first-aid kits. Because backpacks tend to rub against shoulders and backs, they can cause blisters that need to be covered.

                      15. Remember the first-aid kit

                      Speaking of first-aid kits, REI has a great one that includes things like Moleskin for blister protection and other wound-care specifics that might not be found in other non-hiking related kits.

                      16. An ice pick can be your best friend

                      As dramatically chronicled in Wild, learning to properly use an ice pick can help you navigate precarious trails by offering surer footing in the case of icy surfaces.

                      17. Take something good to read

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                        Although safety is very important, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring fun items along with you. During the downtime and slow hours when you’re not staring at the sunrise, you might want to pull out your favorite Divergent book or a compact copy of the New Testament to keep you company.

                        18. Inform others of your hiking plan

                        Instead launching off without letting any family members or friends know where you’re going, leave your detailed hiking safety plan with at least one person you can trust – and plan to check in with them at appointed times.

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                        19. Do shorter hikes first

                        Before setting out on the monumental hike of a lifetime, plan to complete several smaller hikes first in order to acclimate yourself to the process.

                        20. Learn how to set up your tent before you leave

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                          It can be tempting to let your tent stay nice and tidy, planning to unpack it and read the rules when you’re on your hike. It’s better, however, to learn the intricacies of tent setup – which can be daunting – in the safety of your own backyard first, instead of in the wild.

                          21. Keep as dry as possible

                          Dampness and cold can be the enemy to a good hike. Even rain jackets may need to be put through an extra waterproofing process.

                          22. Use your fingers to estimate the remaining daylight

                          Oregon sunset-b

                            Sort of like using a sundial to tell time, there’s a neat way you can use your fingers to determine if you have enough hours of light left to hike on or whether you should hunker down for the evening.

                            23. Look up to the moon and stars.

                            In order to find your true north and south directions, without needing a compass you can observe the moon and the stars.

                            24. Bring a quality knife

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                              Not that you want to use it like Aron Ralston had to use his when he cut off his own arm in order to free himself after getting trapped in rock canyons as shown in the movie 127 Hours, but a good knife can do everything from provide protection to help prepare food.

                              25. Pack extra clothes

                              Realize that if you’re hiking in a cold climate, you can still sweat and soak through your clothes. Make sure you have enough extra gear to change into whilst your other soggy clothes are drying

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                              26. Double-check last minute weather reports

                              Even if the location you’re planning to hike is predicted to be filled with sunny skies and pleasant weather, make sure you’re aware of up-to-the-minute storms or other approaching factors than can adversely affect your hike.

                              27. Research all the potential animals you may encounter

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                                Bring bear repellant spray, and learn the proper way to react if you’re suddenly faced with a big grizzly bear versus a black bear. Determine beforehand the types of wildlife your hiking area contains – be it teeming with coyotes, snakes, mountain lions or whatever – along with the best ways to keep safe from them.

                                28. Duck Tape can be very valuable

                                Duck Tape can serve a multitude of purposes, from taping up wounds to covering blisters to helping to remove a tick, so stock up.

                                29. Protect your smartphone in a waterproof case

                                If you can get a signal when you need it the most, a waterproof case for your cell phone can serve as a lifeline by keeping the electronic dry and usable. Life Proof makes a great one.

                                30. Stay calm, keep your wits about you and have fun

                                Newleycombe Cross In Snow

                                  Remember the main reasons you have embarked upon the journey. Even if you come across unexpected adventures, don’t give in to fear. Enjoy the exercise and keep calm. Remain visible and send distress signals in case of an emergency.

                                  Featured photo credit: Travel to Mount Cook National Park by ZIVOTNACESTACH.CZ via picjumbo.com

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                                  Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                                  Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                  Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                  Feeling tired all the time?

                                  Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                                  I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                                  Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                                  If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                                  In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                                  What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                                  If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                                  Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                                  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                                  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                                  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                                  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                                  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                                  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                                  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                                  Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                                  Unfortunately, yes!

                                  Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                                  Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                                  Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                                  Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                                  Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                                  Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                                  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                                  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                                  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                                  The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                                  It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                                  Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                                  Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                                  If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                                  Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                                  Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                                  But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                                  Symptoms of fatigue include:

                                  • Difficulty concentrating
                                  • Low stamina
                                  • Difficulty sleeping
                                  • Anxiety
                                  • Low motivation

                                  These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                                  Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                                  How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                                  The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                                  Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                                  So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                                  The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                                  Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                                  Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                                  If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                                  And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                                  It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                                  4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                                  Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                                  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                                  2. Exercising regularly
                                  3. Using stressbusters
                                  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                                  So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                                  After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                                  In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                                  I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                                  Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                                  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                                  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                                  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                                  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                                  The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                                  And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                                  But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                                  L — Living Healthy

                                  Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                                  So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                                  In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                                  As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                                  Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                                  1. Unplug

                                  Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                                  So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                                  2. Unwind

                                  Do something to relax.

                                  Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                                  3. Get Comfortable

                                  Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                                  Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                                  Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                                  Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                                  If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                                  Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                                  This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                                  E — Exercise

                                  Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                                  That’s what happened in my case.

                                  But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                                  As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                                  My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                                  That made sense to me.

                                  So, I decided to swim.

                                  I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                                  Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                                  Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                                  So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                                  If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                                  A — Attitude

                                  Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                                  When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                                  Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                                  Breathing.

                                  But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                                  Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                                  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                                  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                                  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                                  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                                  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                                  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                                  This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                                  When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                                  Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                                  N — Nutrition

                                  Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                                  If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                                  Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                                  For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                                  Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                                  Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                                  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                                  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                                  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                                  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                                  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                                  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                                  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                                  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                                  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                                  Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                                  That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                                  Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                                  If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                                  If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                                  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                                  • Regular Exercise You Love
                                  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                                  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                                  Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                                  More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                                  Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

                                  [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                                  [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                                  [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                                  [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                                  [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                                  [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                                  [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                                  [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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