By Jon DeMeo
While spending time outdoors and trekking through forests, mountains, plains, deserts, or wherever else you are headed, there are some important things you should do to ensure your safety while you are exploring. Many of the steps are simple and do not take much time, but they can be life saving and will help keep you from getting into danger. If you are making plans to head out soon, keep these tips in mind:
Always tell a friend where you are headed.
Make contact with a friend and let them know a little bit of information about your upcoming journey before you leave, even if you’re not traveling alone. A few key elements to include are exact location and route you are taking, who is with you and when your expected departure and return dates are. Also be sure you have each other’s phone numbers not only in your phone but written down. This is important because if your phone dies you can still contact them with a friend’s phone since you still have their number handy.
Have enough water and/or water filtration solutions.
This is maybe the most important aspect to plan for before leaving on an extended hike. Be sure to consult with someone who is more experienced to be sure you have adequate amounts of water and/or the right gear to get the water you need. One filter that will be released January 2016 is the MSR Guardian Filter. This filtration system gives you the ability to obtain water from natural sources and avoid getting sick and has a self cleaning feature which means no back flushing or filter scrubbing. While there is always a risk of sickness, this one is said to eliminate almost all potential threats. By using a filtration system over packing your water in, you save both weight and space in your bag. You will still need to take a water bottle with you so that you can store some liquid as you move from water source to water source. You can also check out the very portable LifeStraw.
Watch the weather.
The last thing you want to happen is to get caught in a storm that you could have avoided. While this is not only unfortunate for your comfort during the hike it could become potentially a serious threat to your safety. Depending on the environment you are hiking in, it may be imperative to watch weather patterns not only before your hike, but during. A great app for most phones is The Weather Channel. This app provides active radar and future forecasting which is helpful to monitor. If rain is in the forecast be sure to reevaluate packing and your housing setup on the trail.
Be sure to have a source of communication.
While this can be similar to telling a friend we are going, there are different options to stay in communication with them as you hike. There are new technologies that allow people to track where you’re at without you having to do anything by carrying a small device with you like a Spot, but there also more extreme options including a satellite phone. It will depend on the type of hike that will dictate what type of communication device you will need. Most of the time a standard cell phone will work, but you will need to be careful with your battery life and think about packing a battery pack to charge it throughout the trip. Whatever you choose, you should have a plan in place but can get you in communication with help at any point in your trip.
Be careful how you store your food at night.
The last thing you want to think about during your trip is to be interrupted by hungry animals while you are trying to sleep. It can seem comical but it can quickly be dangerous if your food is not stored correctly. With all food choices that you are packing in your bag, try your best to find biodegradable items so that you leave no trace on your hike. Some items can be burned in the fire if the package is marked this way, while other items will need to be packed out with you and thrown away properly at a base station or special campsite. Another thing to think about is when storing food, be sure to have them sealed in your bag or hung up higher in the trees so that the critters don’t get to it throughout the night!
By following some of these basic tips, you can keep yourself out of trouble and have an enjoyable hike.