Many people across the country enjoy backpacking. They can throw off the stresses of daily life as they immerse themselves in the outdoors. However, some preparations are necessary to backpack and hike safely. What should backpackers be aware of to prevent a serious health issue or problem on the trail. Understand more about backpacking safety today by following these important backpacking guidelines.
Understand the Territory
Those visiting a National Park or backpacking through the wilderness need to know about potential dangers in order to properly prepare. Flash floods can affect those backpacking in areas with narrow canyons. Backpacking and hiking on steep inclines and along ridges may pose other issues to those who are new to backpacking, as a single slip of the foot can lead to injury or death. Pebbles and loose sand can be slippery, and even experienced backpackers should always exhibit caution when walking on loose or uneven terrain.
Know of the potential of ice or snow on trails before heading out, as snow and frozen paths can be difficult to navigate and cause injury. Additionally, stronger currents and rising water levels can make it difficult to cross relatively shallow rivers. Research the area and learn more about the challenges of a hike from previous backpackers or guidebooks, and be aware of changing terrain and weather.
Be Ready for Bad Weather
The weather may seem sunny and pleasant when first heading out, but no matter how clear the skies are, backpackers should never expect them to stay that way. Inclement weather can be dangerous, and backpackers do not want to be caught out in the middle of a hike without the resources they need to stay dry and comfortable when weather changes. Avoiding cotton fabrics and choosing water-wicking materials can help backpackers reduce how wet they can get in a rainstorm. Getting warm and out of any windy and wet weather conditions can help decrease chances of illness or the need for medical attention while on a trail.
Learn How to Deal with Wildlife
Depending on the area, bears, mountain lions and other predator animals may be lurking about. Those new to backpacking should be aware of how to act around such animals and how best to avoid them. Both bears and mountain lions have been known to attack individuals in wilderness areas, so solo backpacking is not encouraged. People should not approach such animals and need to stay away from cubs.
Hydrate and Treat Water Property
Those choosing to backpack should have enough water on hand to drink and stay hydrated. Hiking in an extreme environment or during hot summer months may require a person to be ready to carry and drink at least a gallon of water per person daily. It is best not to drink untreated water. If water needs to be treated, consider either boiling water or filtering and disinfecting it. This can make water collected during hiking safe to drink.
Those who fail to drink enough water may suffer from heat exhaustion. Be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as fatigue, headaches, nausea and cool, clammy skin. Any person experiencing symptoms should stop hiking, rest in a cool area, drink and eat. Drinking will help cool off the body, but eating is equally necessary to reduce the possibility of developing low blood salt. Backpackers who feel such symptoms for over two hours need medical assistance.
Get the Gear Needed to Backpack Safely
From choosing the right hiking boots, to clothing, tarps and tents, there are a number of items a serious backpacker may want to take with them on a specific trail. Learn more about the gear generally recommended for an area, make sure that batteries in flashlights work and that there are no tears in tents, tarps or backpacks before heading out. Proper storage and maintenance of gear can help prevent performance issues and make for a more enjoyable time outdoors.