Six Steps to Safe Hiking
Step 1: Choose an Appropriate Hike
Step 2: Fill Your Pack
- Water—Drink plenty of water. The amount of water you need for a longer hike can get heavy. You may want to get water from streams along the way. Do no assume that water from streams is safe. Use a water filter or purifying tablets if you use stream water.
- Food—Choose high-energy goodies that will not disintegrate on the trail: energy bars, granola, bagels, pita bread, candy bars, oranges, apples, and raisins.
- Extra clothing—Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable. Be ready for anything—cold, heat, wind, rain, or snow, no matter what the season.
- First aid kit—In a waterproof container, stash some antibiotic ointment, band aids, moleskin, and an ace bandage.
- Flashlight, waterproof matches—In case sunset sneaks up on you, you will be prepared.
- Sunscreen—The thinner air at high elevations offers less protection from the sun's rays, so wear sunscreen year round.
- Raingear—Hikers in the west can expect a daily afternoon thundershower in the summer, but all hikers should be prepared.
Step 3: Dress Appropriately
- Two pairs of socks to wear and extras in case they get wet—a lightweight liner (eg, polypropylene or polyester) and a cushioning sock made out of wool
- Warm, waterproof gloves
- A hat
- Inner layer —Wear close-fitting long underwear made from polypropylene or silk, which should dry quickly and pull perspiration away from your skin.
- Middle layer—This layer should be light-weight and breathable—flannel, wool, down, or fleece. You may want extra middle layers in colder climates.
- Outside layer—To block wind and rain, try Supplex (wind-resistant) or Gore-Tex (great for rain and snow).
Step 4: Stay on Track
Step 5: Stay Healthy
Step 6: Be Alert for Critters
- Make noise and slowly back away
- Do not feed or approach the animal
- Do not run away
American Hiking Society http://www.americanhiking.org
Leave No Trace Organization http://www.lnt.org
Canada Trails http://www.canadatrails.ca
Hike Nova Scotia http://www.hikenovascotia.ca
Extreme outdoor hiking clothing—base, insulation, outer layer. ABC of Hiking website. Available at: http://www.abc-of-hiking.com/hiking-apparel/three-layer-system.asp. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Get ready to hike. Hiking Dude website. Available at: http://www.hikingdude.com/hiking-training.php. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Hiking: an activity for almost any age. American College of Sports Medicine website: http://www.acsm.org/docs/fit-society-page/acsmfspsummer2012.pdf. Published Summer 2012. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Hiking poles. Hiking Dude website. Available at: http://www.hikingdude.com/hiking-sticks.php. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Hiking safety rules. Trails website. Available at: http://www.trails.com/list%5F53%5Fhiking-safety-rules.html. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Lost in the Woods. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website. Available at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/legal%5Fprotection%5Fpdf/lostinwoods.pdf. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Outdoor safety tips. Georgia Department of Natural Resources website. Available at: http://gastateparks.org/Hiking-Safety. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Stop ticks. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/stopticks/. Updated June 13, 2014. Accessed November 19, 2014.
Water for hiking. Hiking Dude website. Available at: http://www.hikingdude.com/hiking-water.php. Accessed November 19, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/31/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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