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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

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    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

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      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

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        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

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              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

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                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

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                  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

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                      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 September 28, 2020

                                  The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

                                  The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

                                  At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

                                  Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

                                  One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

                                  When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

                                  So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

                                  Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

                                  This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

                                  Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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                                  When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

                                  Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

                                  One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

                                  Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

                                  An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

                                  When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

                                  Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

                                  Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

                                  We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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                                  By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

                                  Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

                                  While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

                                  I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

                                  You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

                                  Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

                                  When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

                                  Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

                                  Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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                                  Con #2: Less Human Interaction

                                  One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

                                  Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

                                  Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

                                  This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

                                  While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

                                  Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

                                  Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

                                  This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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                                  For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

                                  Con #4: Unique Distractions

                                  Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

                                  For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

                                  To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

                                  We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

                                  More About Working From Home

                                  Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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