More women are seeking outdoor experiences like hiking, many even going into the wilderness solo. So here are six tips on how to remain safe while recreating outdoors as a woman!
Plan your route
Preparation is the best way to be safe outdoors. For instance, which trail are you taking? Do you have an offline map of the area? If you’re driving, how far is the parking lot from the trailhead? When do you need to start hiking? What is your turn-around time if you haven’t reached the summit or end of the trail? Is there cell phone reception or wifi on the trail?
Hikers in the U.S. frequently use AllTrails or Gaia GPS for hike planning. For an additional cost, you can download offline trail maps and trailhead directions on these apps.
Know the weather
Knowing the day’s weather is essential to your safety. For instance, the temperature will drop the higher you hike. If you’re aiming for a summit, you’ll need to know the weather at the top. Is there a forecast for strong winds, snow, or rain? A regular weather forecast won’t provide this type of detailed information, so it’s best to visit Mountain-Forecast.com for a forecast every three thousand feet.
One of the best ways to be safe is to provide an itinerary to a loved one who isn’t hiking with you. Be as specific as you can, including your estimated time of departure, your trail, and an estimated time of return. You may tell others that you’ll be leaving before 9:00 a.m. at a specific trailhead and returning between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. If your contact doesn’t hear from you until 11:00 p.m., for instance, they can call 911, which will alert the local staff to look for you. Be sure to tell your contact if you won’t be expecting cell phone reception until later, so they won’t worry unnecessarily. If you’re a frequent hiker in the wilderness, you may also buy a satellite device for a few hundred dollars to send and receive messages in no-reception zones.
Bring enough water and food
Hydration is fundamental to safety, particularly in warm, sunny weather. And if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll need more water. In addition to bringing a water filter, you can pack water purification tablets like Aquatabs. You’ll also need food to power your hikes. While the average woman needs to eat 2,000 calories per day, you will likely need up to 3,500 calories on an all-day hike (here’s data on the subject). Even if you don’t need to eat much, this is not the time to skip calories. In a recent survey of female hikers, Outside Magazine found that most don’t diet. In addition to your food, it is a smart idea to bring extra food like these tablets, each serving 240 calories of dense, delicious energy.
Keep yourself clean
Being clean on the trail is important to everyone, particularly during wilderness bathroom visits. You’ll want to have clean water, wipes, and bags to dispose of any waste materials. Many women also want to remain hygienic when going to the bathroom in the wilderness. To ensure that the water you’re using is clean, consider buying a water filter bottle. And above all, remember to correctly dispose of used toilet paper or wipes so you can observe Leave No Trace principles.
Prepare for emergencies
Emergencies can happen in the wilderness, so it is best to be prepared. If you’re in a wildfire or thunderstorm area, do you know how to react safely and calmly? How can you treat heat-related or cold-related illnesses in you or others? What if you get lost? What if you have an animal encounter? These are all unlikely scenarios, but it’s best to know how to respond. One common scenario is getting lost and unexpectedly needing to stay overnight in the wilderness. Pack extra clothes, food, and water for this situation.
Finally, once you’ve prepared for the discomfort and risks of the wilderness, it’s time to enjoy yourself! Take photos, eat a delicious snack, enjoy the summit, and remember that you are a strong woman. If you can hike this, is there anything you can’t do?