Hiking in wildlife is a beautiful, peaceful, and serene experience. It has been shown to accelerate healing & lift mood. Hiking is a great thing to do, and it's even better to understand the environment and be safe while hiking so you can enjoy the experience even more.
How To Be SAFE While Hiking- The Ultimate Hiking Safety Guide
In this long guide, we'll be giving you almost everything you need to know so you can make the most out of your hiking experience. For the video version, click HERE.
Also, most times you're out hiking you'll be perfectly safe. As long as you're not doing stupid things (like trying to aggravate animals) you'll be safe. Still it's good to know these things in the rare event that an issue comes up.
Tip 1: Don't Hike Alone
While sometimes you may hike alone, don't do hikes that are deep or very hard unless you're a very experienced hiker. If you come across a predator, a group will protect everyone and dissuade animals from approaching. Groups can also help you if you sprain your ankle or get hurt in any other way.
In the event that you do hike alone, it's always good to tell somewhere where you're going. Let them know when you should be back or what time you'll check in with them, so that they can get help if you can't be contacted. Deep in the woods or high up on mountains there is usually not cell reception, so you should make sure someone knows what you're doing.
Tip 2: Bring Enough Supplies
Bring MORE than enough food & water. It's better to have one extra water bottle than one less. Don't expect water fountains or sustenance on the hike.
A great rule of thumb is that once you're halfway through supplies, you should turn back immediately. Gauge the intensity of the hike, and if it's super intense you should turn around at 2/5 of your supplies being used up.
Tip 3: Be in Great Physical Conditioning
Figure out the difficulty level of the hike you're going on and determine if you're able to do it. If you aren't able to do it, only do a part of it. In the case of hiking, don't push yourself too hard- it can be very hard to get help in remote areas!
Tip 4: Never Anticipate Help
When hiking deep into nature, you should act as though it's just you. Don't rely on help. Don't make unnecessary risks because you can't guarantee help will come.
If you're low on supplies, turn around- it's unlikely you will find anyone else to give you water. Even if that's untrue and the hike is well-walked, you can never predict what other people are doing that day and should act as though it's just you out there.
Tip 5: Check Phone Connection
Some carriers, such as Verizon in the United States, operate on the "CDMA" network whereas other phones transmit on the "GSM" network. You should check a coverage map with your carrier before going on the hike to see if you will even have phone connection (and if you do, definitely bring extra power).
Some carriers have more coverage than others in certain areas, so you should know whether you'll have connection or not!
Tip 6: Have a GPS
Most smartphones and Android phones have a built-in GPS. This is separate of texting/calling/mobile data. For the most recent iPhones, even if you turn your phone on Airplane Mode, you will still be able to get your location after a minute of waiting.
With your phone GPS you will be able to figure out where you are on the map even if you do not have any connection. You can NOT get directions, call people, or get information about different places. Instead the benefit here is that you can see where you must go, and manually plot a path there.
In Google Maps you can also download "Offline Maps" which will allow you to get more information even offline.
Tip 7: Check Weather Conditions
Storms, floods, tornadoes, are but a few of the natural disasters we have on Earth. Make sure that the weather is great so that you can get back safely. If the weather isn't perfect, be prepared for whatever comes.
Tip 8: Bring a Flashlight
Hikes can sometimes accidentally go longer than they are supposed to. Nature is not illuminated with artificial light, so make sure you bring your own. People often underestimate how insanely dark it gets without streetlights, and so with a flashlight you will be able to make your way back in a worst case scenario.
Tip 9: Bring Basic First-Aid
You don't need a super fancy kit. Band-aids, Ibuprofen, etc. are all you need to help yourself in case you sprain an ankle or get scratched. Bring a lightweight kit that fits easily in your backpack.
Meeting Dangerous Wildlife Predators
It's unlikely that you will come across wildlife predators, and in the event that you do, it's even rarer they will stick around. However you should be prepared for anything that might happen in a deep hike through nature.
General advice is to stand still, be calm, don't scream and run, and look in the predator's general area without making intense eye contact. Back up slowly and leave. Stay alert and survey your area. Never run and scream- screaming & running is what TRIGGERS an attack! Stay confident, make no sudden movements.
Once you're far enough away from the predator, you can move a bit quicker. Remember, outright running will naturally cause the predator to chase after you.
Two Types of Wildlife Attacks
There are two types of wildlife attacks: Defensive and Predator attacks.
Defensive attacks occur when a wildlife animal feels afraid for its own safety. It may think that you're going to steal its food, hurt its babies, etc. Defensive attacks make up 99% of wildlife attacks because people are being stupid, or unaware that they are entering a predator's territory.
Defensive attack prevention is easy- slowly move away, and stay alert. The wildlife animal will feel safer and you both will be happy. Don't aggravate the wildlife animal, make sudden movements, or scream.
Predator attacks are very rare, and when they happen they usually happen to little kids or smaller people that might appear weak to the predator. Predator attacks are when the wildlife animal is extremely hungry and sees the human as food.
If you think an animal might be hungry and scoping you out, stand still, appear big, use the group if you have it, and slowly move away. Look as confident as possible and relaxed as possible. Stay calm and survey the area for help and escape routes. Be prepared to fight.
Running away almost never works. Almost all wildlife animals are faster than humans in the short-run, and so running will still get you caught. Even bears are faster than most sprinters!
Appear as big as possible and be prepared to fight if it comes down to it. Most of the time, appearing big and confident will dissuade the wildlife animal from attacking you.
Always Research the Area
You should always research the area beforehand. Know what you're getting into. Research the particular predators you might come across as each individual predator you may have to deal with differently. In general our advice will help with most situations, but there are a few things you should know about each wildlife animal- each one could require its own BLOG post! Do the research for your deep hike beforehand and STAY SAFE.
We hope you enjoyed this read, and will have a fantastic hike. Thanks!
-Wildlife X Team International Team