Thunderous and booming mountains, deep and twisting valleys carved out by raging rivers looking to leave their mark for all to see, serene and gleaming sunsets, or even a trail laid out like a maze among towering trees. This planet is full of so many ways to experience the beauty of nature. But, as beautiful as the wild is, there are still dangers looming over us waiting until we let our guard down.
The question is, how do we make sure we keep ourselves safe when we embark on our adventure? We were able to interview several experienced hikers that provided many ways to stay safe while enjoying the beauties of the trail. Through these interviews, we were able to find a common core of 6 essential items that every adventure seeker needs to make sure they pack!
1. Plenty of Water
Yes, this first essential should be a no-brainer right? Nevertheless, one of the leading causes of accidents during hikes results from heat exhaustion, heatstroke and hyponatremia. One of the experienced hikers we interviewed says that she gets asked for extra water out on trails all of the time. Often times, people will bring water but not nearly enough and halfway through the hike, they realize the bottoms of their canteens are empty.
So, when going on a hike, make sure you bring an abundance of water! We try and get out and hike and experience the beauties of the desert here in Arizona at least once a week, and when we do we make it a point to bring at least 2 gallons worth of water in our GO Active bottles.
It's always safer to have more than you need than not enough at all!
Oh yes, snacks are super vital to safety when you're out on the trail. Personally, I bring as many snacks as I can when I hit the trail and let me share a story as to why.
It was a handful of years ago when I first moved to Arizona and decided to journey out onto my first ever hike with a couple of friends of mine. Now, it was roughly 100 degrees in late spring so the sun was definitely unrelenting. We made sure to bring PLENTY of water which was smart but we thought we wouldn't be out too long so we didn't bring snacks.
Our hike started off great but quickly we realized we may have made some wrong turns and ventured off the trail. After a half hour or so of looking for the trail, we realized we were that taboo four letter word when you're hiking: LOST.
A handful of hours went by and we still had ample water, but our bellies started to rumble and we finally recognized our most crucial mistake. We forgot to bring snacks just in case. Luckily, we had a good sense of direction and within a couple more hours we had found our way back to the trail and to our vehicles, but the lesson definitely stuck; ALWAYS bring snacks because a short two hour hike can turn into a multiple hour/day hike real fast.
3. Your Phone
You're probably thinking to yourself," A phone? Really? These people at GO Active must've found some millennial hikers to interview for this article."
Well, we did interview plenty of millennials, but this tip actually came from a man in his late 50s early 60s. We were hiking along the Bear Mountain Trail up in Sedona, Arizona when we met our friend, Chester. We noticed he had his smartphone in his backpack pocket along with a wireless charger. He said he never goes on a hike without them!
Chester pointed to his cache of hiking apps he uses in order to ensure he enjoys himself safely while also establishing a safety net just in case things go south. He had apps like AllTrails where he is able to pull up the trail he is hiking, and use it to help navigate himself even without cell reception!
Next he pointed to his most favorite app, called Cairn. He called it "the ultimate app for hiking safety. I love it.". What this app does it crowdsource cell coverage spots and shows spots of cell coverage by carrier on your trail. How neat is that?! It literally provides you the safety net you need if you find yourself in too much of a pinch to get yourself out of!
Not only did he enjoy the apps that he uses for his safety, but he also said he loves to take pictures to chronicle his adventures! Yeah, Chester is pretty cool.
4. Proper Shoes
Our hiker poll and statistics, as well as numerous blogs, point out that one of the leading causes of accidents while hiking is from falling. Often times because hikers don't have the proper shoes for the terrain in which they are hiking.
Different environments require different footwear. Sometimes you're going to need ample amounts of grip for the days you're climbing, or water proof for your hikes that require wading in the water.
This piece of equipment was mentioned to us by one of the hikers we interviewed fairly recently when we hiked the Butcher Jones Trail. (Check out the hike here. Pictures of the best sunset in Arizona)
We took our time watching the unreal sunset, and then decided to turn back. This time we met, the sweet woman, Nancy. Actually, we followed the beam of her flashlight until we finally ran into her about 1/8th of the way down the trail. The first thing she said was," Ya know, y'all aren't too smart wandering these trails without a light."
Humbling way to meet someone right? Well, we ended up walking the trail back with Nancy with our tails between our legs asking her about why she was still out while it was dark. She said," For the same reason as y'all! I was watching that beautiful sunset. Difference is, I anticipate being on the trail longer than I expect so I pack my flashlight just in case!".
That's when it clicked that flashlights are definitely an essential on the trail.
This essential piggybacks off of why you should always bring a flashlight. Getting lost, unfortunately, happens. You might find yourself having to sleep out with the moon and stars and even in the most heated of climates, temperatures can get bone chilling.
We are located literally in the desert where temperatures regularly reach 120 degrees, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't occasionally get cold when the sun goes down. Temperatures can drop down into the 20s over night here in the desert!
With hypothermia being another leading cause of accidents while hiking, it is essential that you have a way to warm yourself up when it gets cold!