If you’re reading this article; congratulations! You’re finally ready to take the step and go hiking alone. Solo outdoor adventuring is extremely rewarding but it can also be quite difficult. If it’s the first time you venture outside alone, you’re probably quite nervous. But it’s when you challenge yourself that you grow and learn. Here’s a few basic tips that’s useful before you embark on your hike:
Plan your hike well
If you’re nervous to hike alone for the first time, what can make you feel a lot safer is good planning. Map out exactly where you want to go, download a few good apps that can help you such as maps.me, get a general idea of what’s around you, landmarks to look for along the way and know how strenuous the hike will be. The more you know, the better.
Always make sure someone knows where you’re going
It doesn’t matter if the hike is super easy to do, always make sure that someone knows exactly where you’re going and for how long you’re planning to be away. If there’s anything we’ve learnt from the movie “127 hours”, it’s this.
Get proper hiking gear
Make sure that your hiking boots have already been worn-in before you start your hike, dress in layers and bring rain jackets and rain covers for your backpack. Even if the weather looks sunny in the morning, it can easily pour in the afternoon. This is especially true if you’re going to hike in the mountains, where the weather tends to be unpredictable.
Eat and drink a lot
Pack lots of water and snacks for the number of days you’ll be hiking or just for that one day you’ll be away. You’ll definitely need to recharge when you start hiking and water is an essential. The best thing to do is to bring a filtrator so you can refill your water bottle in any stream.
Pack a headlamp
Even if you’re not planning on hiking at nightfall, it can always be useful, in case something would happen to you. Better to take precautions.
With that said, as a solo female hiker, try to always be wary of your environment. Don’t ever disclose that you’re alone. If you meet someone along the way, just tell them that you’re with someone or that you’re going to catch up with your boyfriend, and so forth. Don’t give strangers too many details either about where you’re headed or what your plans are. If you have a bad feeling about the hiker that’s trailing behind you, stop, pull off to the side of the trail and let them pass you. Pretend that you’re tired and want to rest or because you want to stop to take some photos.
If you’re setting up camp, try to pitch your tent among other campers. If you do need help, at least you’ll be with other campers (although if it’s the creepy person who you think has been following you around, don’t camp next to this person). And who knows, if you don’t feel comfortable hiking alone, you might find a new hiking partner in this camp!
With that said, I’ve encountered numerous solo female hikers on my trip and I’ve also done it myself! I’ve never felt unsafe, although there’s been times where I’ve gotten lost and felt frustrated about that. But I do know that for solo female travelers in general, we always have to be more cautious. We have to keep our eyes and ears open at all times and we have to trust our gut feeling. If it doesn’t feel good – don’t do it! I’ve also often encountered people who’ve wanted to find hiking friends but who couldn’t, so they went hiking alone without even wanting to. They complained about feeling lonely, having to prepare everything themselves, feeling scared because they thought they’d get lost, and it’s not really budget friendly. When you have someone to hike with, you can share a lot of the costs such as camping costs for example. But if you’re in the mindset that you do want to hike alone, there’s nothing that should stop you.
As long as you’re coming fully prepared, your friends and family know where you’re going and you feel confident about hiking alone, there’s really no reason for you to not do it. Just as with solo female traveling, it really depends on where you go, what you do and in which situation you find yourself in. If you hike in Camino de Santiago alone, you will one hundred percent meet many other travelers along the way. You might start alone, but you’ll soon be busy chatting with travelers from all over the world. But if you go hiking in a remote place where not many people go to, there’s a big chance that you’ll do this trail alone and you have to be prepared for it.
It’s a beautiful thing though, to be completely immersed in nature and to spend time with just yourself. Hiking alone is an underestimated adventure and just like when you solo travel, you’ll learn so much about yourself and what you’re capable of.