How I Stay Safe on the Trail

Many people get an uneasy feeling when hiking in the woods, away from society, whether it be with others or by themselves. Some people choose to not even go hiking by themselves because they are afraid of the danger that could be present on the trail.

As an avid hiker/backpacker, I get wary hiking alone because I am aware of all the bad things that could go wrong. We all hear the horror stories in the media and watch crazy scenarios in movies, so naturally people become afraid, as I do. So I decided to not let the fear of hiking stop me, but rather be prepared to protect myself with safety items. I become mentally prepared as well as actually being prepared in case of an emergency. I feel a hell of a lot better adventuring into the wilderness knowing I am protected in a variety of ways.

Bear spray is an essential. This item, I believe, is the most important safety item anyone can bring with them. Bear spray is the most successful approach when it comes to bear attacks and it can also be used on humans if needed. Most cans can shoot up to 30 feet, so this can be a really handy tool in order to keep me safe.

Having a knife with me is also very important. If I were to only bring two items, it would be bear spray and a knife. Most day packs and backpacks have a small compartment on the hip belt. I keep my knife there or hang it off of my pants. Just make sure it is super easy to get to as-well-as the bear spray. These items become useless if you cannot get to them.

An air horn is another effective tool. If it is wildlife I am worried about, having an air horn can be very useful scaring off un-wanted company such as mountian lions. They come in small cans, barely add weight to your pack and it’s just another tool that may help on the trail.

A beacon is another item, this item saves lives. There are many different kinds of beacons; one-way calls, two-way calls, text messaging, or the very basic distress button. Beacons send a satellite distress signal that alert search and rescue teams to help get you out of dangerous situations. Now this is to only be used if you are in life-threatening situations, as an example breaking your leg and not being able to walk out on your own. Depending on where you are, you may or may not be charged a significant amount of money, but if you are about to die, any amount of money should be worth saving your life.

A whistle can be another helpful tool. This can also ward off animals and can be used in distress situations. Blowing the whistle three times in a row tells people around that you are in trouble. A whistle won’t always be effective. The sound doesn’t travel far and there might not be any people around to hear it, but it is another safety item I bring with me.

A compass/GPS is also a safety item that is extremely useful if you get lost. No one ever plans to get lost and most people say “I don’t need to bring this because I’m not going to get lost.” Then people get lost and they don’t have this item to find their way back. Sadly, some people never find their way back. If you don’t know how to use a compass, it is always good to learn a new skill. There are classes still offered and you can find them for free or really cheap with outdoor companies. I took a compass class at Cabella’s for ten dollars.

Having a first aid kit can also be a life-saver. You can put a lot of cool necessities in here such as water-proof matches, an emergency blanket, pain medicine, stomach medicine, gauze pads, duct tape, you name it. A first aid kit is always great to have!

I have gone on backpacking trips myself with every one of these items. I believe having these items with me can very much improve my chances in an emergency situation. I am all for chasing dreams, solo hiking, going on crazy adventure trips, and living life to the fullest, but I will also do it safely. Then, if something does happen to me, at least I know I did my best, and I died doing something that made me happy. Hope you enjoyed this article and stay safe out there!!!!

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About the Author:

Hi, I'm Shelly! A traveler, hiker and an outdoor enthusiast. My dream my whole life was to travel, so I stopped dreaming and started doing. I quit my job and I am currently doing whatever it takes to keep going. I'll pick up jobs along the way and do what it takes to keep being a full-time traveler! I can prove that you don't need to come from money or anywhere special to live your dream. You just have to have the power of your own life to finally say YES!


  1. Kate December 13, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I haven’t done much hiking/backpacking– but I am getting into running and sometimes get that uneasy feeling. I think some of these tips would be helpful for that too, especially when I do some trail running (although, I can maybe leave the bear spray at home!?)

    • shelly December 13, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      For me, bear spray is the number one item because it is so versatile and effective, but I’m glad this article was able to help you!

  2. Dave Whittaker December 13, 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    I always carry all the survival/emergency kit, fortunately, here in the UK, there’s no need for bear sprays, thank goodness, but, in the middle of summer, it’s wise to carry some winter kit, the weather here, especially in the north, can change in seconds, remember the boy scout code, be prepared

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