Seven Tips for a Safe Night Hike

Night hike in a group

If you’ve ever had a hike extend into the evening—whether by choice or because of poor planning—you know that it’s com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent from hik­ing dur­ing the day. You’ll hear new sounds and see new few things that may be awe­some. But a trip can eas­i­ly be ruined if you’re not ful­ly pre­pared. So here are some things to keep in mind for a safe night hike:

Go in a group
The say­ing is true: you’re safer in num­bers. Not only will hav­ing friends keep you from being mis­er­able in the dark, but it’ll also be much more dif­fi­cult for some crazy wild ani­mal to turn you into a meal. The more folks around, the more like­ly you’ll fall in luck with safe­ty gear, com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices, and just good folks who can help in a seri­ous sit­u­a­tion. Above all, make sure of one thing; if you’re hik­ing in bears ter­ri­to­ry, bring one friend who is slow­er than you. Just kid­ding.

Bring plen­ty of lights
This might seem like a giv­en, but it might be a good idea to pack some lights on your night hike, so—you know—you can see where you’re going. Flash­lights are great, but head­lights are even bet­ter. It’s always a good idea to bring a lighter and some tin­der (in case the foliage is wet — nap­kins or paper works great) so you can make a torch in case your light starts to flick­er. On a moon­less night, being stuck in the dark can be a scary thing.

headlight etiquette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prac­tice head­light eti­quette
Part of the fun of night hik­ing is see­ing things dif­fer­ent­ly in the dark. But flip­ping on a light will ruin your (and who­ev­er you’re with) night vision for a few min­utes, which is incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing because it takes time to get back. Work out a sys­tem with your group. But also remem­ber: safe­ty is much more impor­tant than being polite. So flip on a light if you need it.

Be mind­ful of the wildlife
Know what hap­pens when you use flash pho­tog­ra­phy on an owl? With­out being an owl, it’s impos­si­ble to real­ly know, although it’s prob­a­bly some­thing sim­i­lar to star­ing at the sun with binoc­u­lars.

Pack extra bat­ter­ies
There are few things scari­er on an evening hike than being out in the mid­dle of nowhere and hav­ing your lights die when you need them. So bring extra bat­ter­ies. You nev­er know when you might need them.

trail you know

Dress for the weath­er
This is some­thing you ought to do for every hike, whether day or night, but be sure to check the weath­er ahead of time and dress appro­pri­ate­ly. You’ll want to be ready for any adverse weath­er, like rain, because it might not only ruin your hike if you’re not, but it can also be dan­ger­ous.

Pack food and water
Even though it’s like­ly cool­er at night where you’re hik­ing, it’s still impor­tant to stay hydrat­ed. Keep some snacks for the good ole blood sug­ar and remem­ber to bring your trash with you when you leave. Be aware that food smells can attract ani­mals so keep your snacks nice and sim­ple.

Choose a trail you know
Night time isn’t exact­ly the time to explore the back­coun­try. Instead, trek a trail you’re famil­iar with. Besides, it’s awe­some to see how dif­fer­ent things look with­out the sun to illu­mi­nate your sur­round­ings.