Hiking or going for a long outdoor run is a really great way to fit in some exercise and get some fresh air. It’s fun to go with friends as you can enjoy the experience together but there’s also something really peaceful and liberating about embarking on a hike yourself.
While it’s still necessary to be careful with any hike, even when you’re with some friends, going about it solo means that you need even more precautions to stay safe.
4 tips on how to be safe when doing outdoor runs/hikes by yourself
Share your location
It’s pivotal that you let somebody else know where you’re going and the route that you’re going to take. This way, if anything does happen, there is somebody who knows your whereabouts.
Another step that you can take with sharing your location is sharing it in real time. There are apps on your phone or smartwatch that you can use that’ll share your current, real-time location with a friend or family member. This way, they’ll know exactly (or pretty close to it) where you are.
Creating a check-in system with your friend is ideal as well. If you have good cell phone coverage, then your system could be sending a text every half hour or hour so that they know you’re okay. And if you’re not, then they’ll be alerted pretty fast of the fact.
Be very careful with who your share your location with though. Only do it with your trusted family or friends. Try to avoid posting it on a public forum or on social media, especially if you’re going solo, so that strangers don’t know where you are as well.
Pick your route wisely
What route you take can really be significant in keeping safe.
For a solo hike or run, keep to well-travelled and well-marked routes. This means that even if you do get lost, you’ll be able to find markings quite easily that can get you on the right path.
In fact, while it’s a great idea to explore new places and be adventurous, if you’re venturing out by yourself for a long outdoor run or hike, then it may be better to go on routes that you know well. You want to be positive that you’ll be able to know the way to get home or to a safe place, if needed. Also, it’ll help make you feel much more confident when embarking on a familiar route.
Within your limits
Taking risks is great but a solo hike is not the time or place to do it. Ensure that the route is one that is within your limits. Don’t pick an incredibly steep one or one with challenging terrain. Going by yourself will be a challenge in itself, so take it easier for the hike or run.
Ensure that you bring enough water that’ll last you the entire hike and keep you hydrated. A rule of thumb is to bring half a liter for every hour of moderate hiking in moderate temperatures. If you’re going in hotter weather, then you’ll definitely need to up the intake. It’s always better to bring extra water compared to the alternative of running out, risking dehydration.
Food is important too, to keep your energy levels up, especially if you’re doing a long hike or outdoor run by yourself. Granola bars are light and easy to eat on the go. Dried fruit is a great to bring as well as trail mix and energy gel.
Staying energized and hydrated means that you’ll be in the right headspace to do the hike on your own. If you’re dehydrated or hungry, your decision-making skills will be off, you increase the likelihood of getting lost or disorientated and it’ll become more scary and challenging.
It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit. If it’s too much to carry, then even the essentials will make a big difference if you need it such as bandaids/gauze and bandages/tape, antiseptic wipes and antibacterial ointment, and a multitool.
Bring your smartphone for maps. If you’re worried about service, then you can download offline maps or try available apps that allow you to use maps without service. Just to be sure, go old school and bring a hardcopy of the map and directions as well.
It’s also ideal to bring a compass so that you can have a sense of direction when you’re out on your hike or run.
A headlamp or torch is good because if you end up staying out longer than you think you will, it’ll give you light to see if it gets dark.
Know you can always turn back
A lot of the times, we push ourselves through challenges, which is great. It’s what helps us grow. However, when you’re hiking solo and you’re beginning to feel unsure or unsafe, then this is one of those times where it’s not only okay, but recommended that you stop. Making the decision to hike solo is a big one, let alone taking the steps to actually do it, but it’s only worth it if you’re feeling safe to do so.
If you’re not and it’s not the case of normal solo hiking nerves, then turn back.