A good backpacker knows that when it comes to braving the wilderness, preparation is key. Whether you are prepping for your first-ever backpacking trip or heading out on yet another expedition, it is important to know everything there is to know about safety.
Getting out into the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It can allow you to relax, unplug, and focus on what matters to you. Out in the woods though, a regular emergency can quickly become dire when you’re out of range for cell service or not near a major road.
Use these safety tips to keep you protected from harm while you enjoy your backpacking getaway.
Your Shoes Are Your Vehicle
Since backpacking is a trip taken on foot, your shoes are the biggest safety factor you’ll want to consider. They carry you from place to place. They should be sturdy and stand up to the weather well. They should be high quality boots that will offer you protection from the outdoor elements. They’ll have to withstand wear and tear for as long as possible, and not untie themselves in the middle of a hike.
There are tons of quality boots to choose from in addition to sprays and washes that will waterproof and weatherproof your boots. Keep in mind the type of elements you’ll be dealing with in nature and how long your trip is. For short trips, focus on comfort and waterproof features. For longer trips, you’ll also need to consider durability and weight.
Hidden Pockets Prevent Theft
One element of backpacking that few consider is theft. Hikers often know to hang their bag away from where they are sleeping to avoid animal attacks. What they fail to consider is the presence of other humans.
Every backpacking location is different in terms of security and seclusion. Theft though, is common in many national parks and even on the top of mountains. A hidden pocket in your pants or shirt can be a great place for money, identification, or important cards and paperwork. You can sleep soundly with the assurance that your belongings are safe.
Be Prepared for a Backup Plan
Before backpacking, you load up your pack with everything you need for the trip. When you’re out in the woods, it is much harder to get what you need. If a flashlight runs out of batteries or you lose your map, you can’t just run to the store.
This is why backup plans are important. Be sure to bring multiple forms of navigation. These can include maps, compasses, GPS devices, and even phones. This way, even if you move out of cell range or your map gets wet, you have a way to find your way out.
The same can be said for communication, food, and water. Look at all your gear before leaving and think to yourself: what would happen if this piece of gear got ruined or lost? Would I be able to make it home safely? If the answer is no, bring a backup. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to preventing an emergency.
Be Your Own Doctor
When it comes to health while backpacking, there are lots of phenomena to be wary of. Ticks, bites, falls, and dehydration are common among those hiking dangerous terrain. Many of these issues are easily prevented. WebMD advises DEET-based repellent for tick prevention. Bring along a first aid kit as well to ensure that you have sunscreen, anti-bacterial spray, and other necessary medical tools.
When you get bitten by a mysterious spider, you might not be able to consult WebMD. Print out information about local plant and animal life so that you can consult it on your trip if necessary. Keep pictures of common poisonous or venomous insects and plants, as well as information about the closest hospitals and clinics. These preventative actions can make the difference between life and death in an emergency.
The Bottom Line
Backpacking is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors, get fit, get into nature, and spend time with nature-loving friends. There are many emergency scenarios that backpackers are at risk of, including getting bitten by a venomous critter or getting lost without the right tools to get home.
Whether you are new to the activity, or a seasoned pro, use these safety tips to help you stay safe on your trip. With good shoes, theft prevention pockets, backup tools, and medical knowledge, you are sure to return home safe and sound.