Hiking in the dark is an adventure unlike any other. However, the margin for error is relatively thin, and if you’re not careful, things can take a turn for the worse quite quickly. So, of course, the most important nighttime hiking safety tip is this – avoid it if possible. We recommend doing travel research for any place you plan on going, but if it isn’t possible, and you have no option but to brave the trail after sundown, there are specific safety pointers that you should keep in mind. Read on to know what they are.
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1. Hike in a group
Hiking in a group is recommended during the night and the day. Even if the trail’s well-marked, it’s best to have at least one companion. The reason for this is quite simple – suppose you fall and injure yourself. In such a scenario, it’ll be incredibly difficult for you to get to your destination on your own. At night, there’s also the risk of wild animals.
2. Wear a headlamp
Headlamps are considerably better options than handheld torches, as they allow your hands to stay free while hiking. Also, when buying a headlamp for nighttime hiking safety, it’s best to purchase one that comes with a red light toggle switch. By switching on the red light, you can scare off wild animals if there’s an encounter.
3. Put on the right clothes and shoes according to the weather
If you plan to hike to a spot during the day and hike back in the evening, you’ve got to wear the right clothes and shoes. For instance, if it’s sunny during the day, you may feel like you don’t need to wear warm clothing. However, what if it gets rainy and colder during the evening? So, before you set out on the hike, check how the weather will be. If there are any drastic weather changes, you need to be prepared for them.
4. Don’t yell, but don’t stay completely quiet
Screaming and yelling on the trail is a strict no-no, as it can disturb the peace. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay completely quiet either. For safe hiking at night, it’s best to keep making some sounds as you make your way forward on the trail. This will alert animals of your presence on the trail, and they will think twice before crossing your path.
5. Educate yourself on how to light a fire
You can take all the safety precautions you want, but if something goes wrong (for example, a storm), you’ll have to wait it out. This is where knowing how to build a fire can come in handy. First, it will ensure that the time you spend waiting is warm. Additionally, a fire will keep wild animals away.
6. Let people know before you set off
One of the worst things you can do is set off on a nighttime hike without informing anybody. If you do, and you suffer a fall or injury, no one will know where to look for you. So, it’s best to inform some people about your whereabouts before you start your hike. It will ensure that help will come your way if something does go wrong.
7. Choose a relatively safe trail
You may be tempted to hike on dangerous trails if you’re the adventurous sort. However, when it comes to nighttime hikes, it’s best to skip such trails and go for something that’s relatively safer – preferably, a trail you already know well. Of course, if you want to go off the beaten path, you should do it during the day, but it’s recommended to choose an easy trail for safe hiking at night. This will also prevent you from going off the trail, leading to dangerous encounters with wild animals.
8. Don’t rush
Hiking is best experienced when you do it at a comfortable pace. If you rush through it, it’s bound to be a stressful experience. Additionally, rushing may also lead to slips and falls when you’re traversing through tricky sections of the trail. So, even if you’re starting your hike later than you would have liked to, try your best to stay calm and walk comfortably.
So, that’s about it for this article. But, we hope you keep these eight safety tips at night the next time you book a trip and venture out into the wild after sundown.