While most prefer to hike with friends, a solo backpacking trip is a unique experience for anyone who wants to grow their confidence and enjoy the quiet solitude of being alone on the trail. If a solo trip sounds daunting, here are some tips and tricks to make your first solo hike safe and beneficial to your overall backpacking skills.
Why Should You Hike Alone in First Place?
You’ll Discover Hiking Skills to Improve Upon
Hiking and camping solo is one of the best ways to find out what areas of your skill set could use improvement. Without the support of others, you’ll have to navigate, set up your gear, and make decisions independently. By discovering where your strengths and weaknesses are, you’ll improve your self-confidence and begin to feel like you’re empowered to tackle more challenging hiking trips.
You’ll Discover More About Yourself
Can you think of the last time you were alone for over 24 hours? Being alone isn’t common, and by venturing out solo, you’ll be able to let your mind wander. Take our advice and keep your mobile devices powered off unless you truly need them. Many find that some of their best business ideas of musings on life, in general, come to them when they are out solo on the trail.
Often many find that a solo hike is about facing your inner fears. By facing these fears, we improve our skills and allow our physical and mental capacity to be sharpened. Hiking alone is a great time to reset our bodies and our minds, as well as learn about our skills, fears, and much more.
You’ll Discover What Gear You’re Missing
Without others to share gear with, many men find out what gear they could still use in their kit and if the what actually fits comfortably in their backpacks. TerritorySupply goes in detail about lots of gear options out there. One of the best purchases after a recent solo hike has been a Hammock Top Quilt. The pressure between a sleeping bag and a hammock can cause the sleeping bag to lose its insulative properties, leaving you with a cold rear-end. The Hammock Top Quilt solves for this problem by creating insulation around the hammock.
You’ll Discover A Better Appreciation of Nature
When you’re hiking solo, you’ll move at your own ideal pace and be able to take as many breaks as you’d like. By moving at your own pace, you’ll be able to spend more time appreciating the scenery and wildlife around you. You’ll have more time to take pictures or inspect interesting rock formations or wildlife that interests you.
What Should You Do to Prepare for a Solo Hike?
As long as you’re prepared and have some experience under your belt, hiking solo can be a perfectly safe activity to conquer. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first solo hike.
Start with a Few Solo Daytime Hikes
It’s definitely not wise to start your first solo hike in an area that is unfamiliar to you. Pick a few trails close to home and start with a few daytime hikes, eventually moving into some late afternoon to evening hikes so you become familiar with the area, as well as any potential issues you might run into such as poisonous fauna or areas with slippery footpaths. When you know the area, you’ll also be more prepared for any potential weather-related issues that might arise on your solo hike.
Know the Area You’ll Be Hiking In
If you’re able to, complete your solo hike on the chosen path in your area with friends a few times, or short segments of the trail during daytime solo prior to completing the full hike on your own. Don’t hike or camp alone in an area that you’ve never been to previously.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
Be sure to tell a family member or friend, heck tell multiple people, where you’re going to be hiking and when. Once you start, don’t deviated from that plan or change the route last minute. Once you’ve returned, be sure to let them know you got back safely. If something does happen and you go missing, the more people that know your whereabouts, the better.
Check the Weather Before You Go
Depending on where you’re hiking at, the weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes. Bring all of the weather gear that you think you might need on your hike and be prepared for anything. Pay attention to the sky and wind patterns, and if you see others turning back, it’s likely that you need to turn back as well.
Check-In at Ranger Stations
Checking in at the Ranger Stations is valuable for a few reasons. When you check in, they may be able to give you some insight on any changes or closures on the trail that you might not have been aware of previously. The rangers will also have your name and your whereabouts in the event that something happens to you. Be sure to check in on your way out and check back in on your return journey so you’re held accounted for.
Choose a Busier Trail or Stick to a Path
Even though this might seem to take away from the idea of being completely alone if it’s your first solo hike it’s not a bad idea to be on a busier trail. If something goes wrong, someone will likely be close by to hear you shout if you need help. Busier trails are often better maintained than less traveled areas as well, which means they are likely safer. Once you’re on the trail, be sure to stick to the path. In many areas, going off trail isn’t allowed, or you could be setting yourself up for a potential safety hazard but going into an area that may have unknown dangers such as wildlife, poisonous fauna, or unsafe ground.
Bring Extra Supplies and Know Your Limits
You should always bring more on your hike than you think you’ll need, especially water. Pack a first aid kit, a map of the area, an extra layer, and additional snacks. When hiking alone, it’s also valuable to know your limits. If something seems like a bad idea, it’s probably a bad idea. Trust your intuition know your level of fitness, and don’t be a hero.
Hiking alone can be an extremely fulfilling and confidence-boosting experience and is something every man should try at least once in his lifetime. Stick to these tips and tricks and enjoy the adventure.