Are you an outdoorsy person who loves to go hiking and trekking at a moment’s notice? Well, going on a hike can be an exhilarating and rejuvenating experience for many adventure junkies. But, in the humdrum and the anticipation of an adrenaline rush, you might end up having a harrowing ordeal instead of a fun adventure. To negate such possibilities, we have survival tips that will equip you to face any eventuality while on a trek. Let us take a look.
1. Pack Essential Things
You should always be equipped with essential supplies when embarking on a trek. Tools and supplies, like a pocket knife, headlamp, waterproof matches, whistle, and first aid kit should be carried at all times. Electronic gadgets such as a power bank and charge cable are handy tools while on a trek. Food items like protein bars and chocolate bars are convenient and easy to carry. Packing all these items might look cumbersome.
This is especially true if you are going on just a quick day trek. But, for the unversed, these tools and items require very little weight and space. You can buy many through monthly survival kits. Browse through an assortment of survival kits on battlebox.com as per your hiking needs.
Be it for hunting or fishing, survival kits can fulfill your specific requirements. Moreover, you can find headwear, navigation, and other accessories. You might not realize it, but seasoned trekkers will vouch for such gear especially if you plan to go on a solo trek. In such a scenario, it might be a good idea to pick tools for emergency/disaster preparedness.
2. Inform People About Your Trip
It is always a wise decision to keep your friends and family in the loop about your hiking trip. Though you might be embarking on a short and quick trek, someone who stays with you or is close to you should be informed.
Things like your hiking place, the trail you plan to follow, and the time you expect to return from the trip should be shared. Trekking all by yourself is fine, but you should follow all the precautions before embarking on a solo trek. It is alright if you want some solitude. However, it is also essential to let others know where you are heading on a hike.
3. Know the Surroundings of Your Trek
Research a bit to get to know about the type of flora and fauna you will be encountering. Not all plants are edible. In fact, some species of plants are toxic and poisonous. This know-how might come in handy if you get lost while following a trekking trail.
In such a scenario, you might have to survive on the surrounding vegetation and even bugs. Furthermore, if you plan to set off to a remote area with a wildlife presence, it might prove lifesaving to learn and research some defense tools and techniques.
This know-how requires a considerable investment of resources and time. However, this information can prove to be worthwhile if you plan to explore the area extensively or do repeat treks to the region.
4. Stay Hydrated
It is absolutely essential to carry water on your trek. You can live without food for days on end, but surviving without water is not possible for long. Stay hydrated when you go on a trek. If you find carrying a water bottle cumbersome, then a water bladder laced small backpack can prove handy. The bladders are such that you would not feel their weight on your back, even if you were to run.
5. Dress Smartly
It’s not wise to carry a truckload of supplies for a two-hour trek, but it’s wise to be cautious and carry clothing essentials in your bag. Carrying hiking shoes, a layer or a raincoat as per the climatic conditions, and other comfy clothing can be helpful. Wearing sunglasses and covering hands and feet can protect against mosquito bites, sunburns, and scratches.
6. Carry Your Phone
You might have a digital detox on your mind while embarking on your trek. You would also want some solitude and get up close with nature during a hiking trip. Whatever be your reason, it’s always wise to carry your phone, especially if you are hiking solo. You can switch off your phone and place it in your bag rather than not carrying it at all. Moreover, our smartphones come with all the tracking apps and GPS. These can prove handy, more so if we lose track while following a trail.
7. Learn Signalling Techniques
You might have seen such scenarios in movies like “Castaway”. Such a thing can also happen in real life wherein you might get lost and look around for help. In such circumstances, signalling know-how can prove lifesaving. Waving a bright-hued cloth or burning rubber for a more visible and darker smoke can help. Moreover, reflecting light at a low flying aircraft through your cell phone screen is prudent. These are all SOS techniques that you should prepare in advance before venturing on a trek to a remote area.
8. Don’t make the situation worse
If you find yourself lost or injured, try not to panic. A common mnemonic device used in the military is STOP ‘EM:
- STOP moving so you don’t worsen your situation.
- THINK about your current situation and what you need to change for it to improve.
- OBSERVE yourself for injuries and your surroundings for clues. Do you have cell service? How does the weather look? Does anyone know where you are?
- PLAN to stay where you are (if you can sustain it) to await rescue. If you are in an unsafe situation or in an area where you will not be found, plan to move elsewhere.
- EVALUATE yourself and do a quick risk assessment. Be honest with yourself and make sure you are comfortable with any plan changes.
- MAKE it happen. Once you’ve settled on your plan, stick to it unless it becomes dangerous or fails. “Straying from your plan, or ‘shooting from the hip,’ will likely worsen your situation,”
9. Stay Warm and Dry
If you are losing daylight, you should shift your focus from finding your way or being found to surviving the night. In this situation, warmth and protection from the elements is critical. Even the hottest of days can get very cold at night in the wilderness. If you can find an overhang or natural shelter, set up there, but look out for other wildlife that may be doing the same, such as snakes. Otherwise, a shelter made of full branches will keep you warm and can protect you from rain. Make sure you build a base to sleep on so you’re insulated from the cold or wet ground. Building a fire is also critical at this juncture, as it provides warmth and can help keep you dry throughout the night, too.
10. Know the Flora and Fauna
It may be beneficial to learn a bit about the local fauna: specifically, what is edible and what is poisonous. If things get really desperate, you may have to drop your dietary standards significantly. Bugs and leaves may keep you alive. Also, if you’ve traveled to an unfamiliar destination, research what local wildlife you may encounter and what the best actions are if they may be dangerous. These defenses vary greatly by an animal, usually aren’t intuitive, and never involve panicking. Learning all of this information can take time, but it’s especially worth the investment if you’ll be doing repeat or extensive hiking in the region.
11. Be prepared to get lost.
If hiking outside of a cut path, it can be easy to become disoriented as the brush grows higher. It’s important to come prepared with tools just in case you do get lost, such as a map and a compass, according to Hine. GPS can be useful, but relying on anything with a limited amount of battery can be a mistake.
If you get lost and you’re in a safe environment, you should take a few moments and sit down, trying to relax as much as possible.
“That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make…Their first reaction is to panic and to run aimlessly,”
If you’re close to a summit, climbing up those extra few hundred feet to get a better view of your surroundings can also be a good idea.
12. Carry two methods for fire.
Always carrying both a lighter and strikers, as lighters can often break and it’s necessary to have a back-up method.
As a frequent backcountry skier, she also recommended carrying blocks of chemical firelighters in case you get stuck in a mountain overnight. Using these and finding tinder and kindling nearby can help keep you warm during a cold night.
13. Know how to find clean water.
If stuck in a jam and forced to look for freshwater, searching for light green areas by surveying foliage from higher up, or searching where harder rock meets softer rock is suggested.
Survival guides that suggest people in desert climes attempt to dig a hole to find water, as it can be energy-draining and might ultimately be futile.
Survival in any form is all about energy expenditure, you’re actually burning off more energy digging a bloody hole.
14. Safety Precautions
This is of the most important things to do before going on a trekking trail. Someone from family or close friends should always know your itinerary so that they are aware of your location while you are traveling. Also, you never know when an emergency situation arises and you might need immediate help. It is always in your interest to inform your close ones of all the details of your trek, including transportation details, accommodation, and the ones who are accompanying you. Let them know when they can expect to hear from you, and when you’re expected to return so that they are not left worrying about your whereabouts.
15. S.T.O.P — A Mantra to Remember
When SHTF on your hike, remember to S.T.O.P.
- Stop: When you get lost or something bad happens, stop and think. Do not move further or act without thinking about your next steps. Sit down and compose yourself. Check your safety and your gears, then drink a gulp of water to refresh your head. Fight the urge to instinctively react, as it may worsen your situation than help.
- Think: After you have stopped, think. Lost? Pull out your phone or your maps. See where you are. Recon the area for any familiar landmark and use it to determine your approximate location. Look back behind you and see when and where you have deviated off course. Ask yourself if it’s possible to retrace your steps and get back to where you were (footprints in the mud or snow?). But don’t do anything yet. Now is the time to think.
- Observe: Assess your surroundings and environment. Take note of not just the terrains, but also the weather. If it’s about to rain or it’s about to get dark, you may have to consider settling down. Check your surroundings to see where the best place to camp is. Where natural resources that you can tap are (a brook or a river, for example). If you don’t have camping equipment with you, find somewhere you can shelter. Underneath an overhang, for example.
- Plan: Now that you got all of the information you need, plan. Use the safest option that is available to you. If you think you can trace your steps back to the trail and there’s still plenty of daylight, do. However, if it’s getting dark and you can’t determine where you are or how to get back, settle down. You can try again in the morning when it’s safer to travel.
A cautious approach and careful preparation are advisable before venturing out for a trek. So, folks, whether you want to take hike tours at the Grand Canyon or bathe in the beauty of the Hawaiian rainforests, always be informed and loaded with the right supplies.