Hiking is a fun way to explore nature in any season. It’s a classic Scouting activity getting out on the trail is one of the Outdoor Adventure Skills. Practising these competencies is a great way to become a safe hiker. Here are some of the most important ways you can stay safe on your next hiking adventure!
HAVE A PLAN
Know where you’re going and have a route planned that’s within your ability. It’s best to hike with others, but you should also share your route with someone not coming along. Submit a Camping and Outdoor Activity Application to your Group Commissioner. Have a map of the trail so you don’t get lost—but remember to “Hug a Tree” if you do. Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.
WHAT TO WEAR
Always be prepared for a range of temperatures in any season: layer up and layer down. For any time of year, wear closed-toe hiking shoes or boots with a sturdy sole. Always avoid cotton—wool or synthetic materials (like polypropylene and polyester) are best for your socks, underwear, tops and bottoms.
Be sure to have the proper equipment with you to have a safe, fun adventure!
Here are a few things you should have in your backpack:
- lip balm
- hand sanitizer
- extra clothing
- cell phone (in case of emergency)
- snacks and water
- first aid kit
- water filter
- pocket knife
- pack cover
The slowest hiker in your group should set the pace. Use the buddy system, and each pair of hikers should be able to see the pair ahead and the pair behind. Take regular breaks to regroup, have a snack and check in with each other. Make sure that you’re on pace to make your goal. Most importantly, stick to the trail!
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
It is very important to stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle you can refill, and be prepared with a filter or purification tablets to treat water.
DON’T BUG OUT
Be prepared for insects and other bugs—especially if anyone in your group is allergic to stings! Wear long pants and long sleeves, and wear bug repellent. Inspect yourself for ticks once in a while, and know how to safely remove them.
If you see a wild animal (dead or alive), keep your distance from it and leave it be. Never feed a wild animal. Know what animals you may encounter and prepare accordingly—for example, bring bear spray if hiking in bear territory.
Never eat any berries you see on the trails unless your Scouter says it’s safe to. There are also some plants that can give you a nasty rash just by being in contact with your skin, so wear long pants.