Putting on my hiking boots, stepping out the front door and venturing into the wild; this is natural for me. There is something about bush walking that relaxes me and keeps me grounded. If I’ve had a stressful week, a walk in the forest almost immediately takes it all away, and I get an amazing feeling of freedom when I am simply following my feet.
Hiking and bush walking is a fantastic pastime to take up, but you should always be prepared before you head off on a hike. Here are some of my tips to help you stay safe while hiking:
Fitness and research
You should always learn about the hike before you attempt it. Find out how long it is as well as the difficulty level and fitness requirements. Although hiking is walking, it is not the same as walking down the street, nor is it the same as running. Hiking can really be physically demanding, particularly if there are a lot of changes in altitude. Make sure that you walk regularly and start off with small, easy hikes and work yourself up to the harder ones.
Bring a first aid kit
It doesn’t matter whether you are walking one kilometre or forty, you should always carry a first aid box with you. Anything can happen while hiking and you don’t want to get caught out without even the basics. Make sure your first aid kit has all of the necessary things like band-aids, bandages, and antiseptic cream, and always make sure that it is kept up to date.
Get a good pair of hiking boots
You may think that hiking boots are an expensive purchase when you could just wear your joggers, but there really is a huge difference. Hiking boots are designed specifically for hiking, just as running shoes are made for running. A good pair of hiking boots can cost a bit of a money, but they tend to last a long time, and they really make hiking a lot more comfortable. When purchasing a pair of boots, make sure that they have good ankle support and are also waterproof. Your feet are your most important thing when hiking, so you should take good care of them.
I bought my hiking boots in 2009 and since then they have been to Mount Everest Base Camp, Mount Kilimanjaro and a lot of places in Australia, and even now I have them with me in Vietnam. If you love hiking, a good pair of boots is a wise investment.
Tell someone where you are going
This is one of the simplest things to do, and yet it can really be a matter of life or death. Never leave for a hike without letting someone know where you are going and when you are expecting to be back. If you don’t tell anyone, how will they know that you are missing if you get lost or injured, and how will they know where to look? By the time someone works it out, it could be too late.
Take what you need and more
When researching your hike, work out what you need to bring with you in terms of clothing and the amount of food and water, and always pack extra in case of an emergency. Even if its the middle of summer with clear blue skies, I always back a warm raincoat. I also always pack a can of tuna and a few extra muesli bars as an emergency supply. I always carry a lot more water than I need and some other basic items like a compass, a pocket knife/multi-tool, water proof matches and of course, my first aid kit. Seton sell a wide range of safety equipment, including first aid boxes.
I hope that these tips help to keep you safe and comfortable when you venture into the wild. With a few basic precautions, you will always enjoy your walk and come home safely at the end of the day.