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The 5 biggest risks while hiking

Updated: Aug 7, 2022

Hiking can be an activity filled with risks and unknowns and it's always important to be prepared, being in the bush can often present a lot of issues you never planned for along with unexpected variables so here is five things to watch out and plan for in advance.

1. Slips, Falls and Bites

One of the most common things you will experience during your time as a hiker is injuries, Injuries can be as small as a blister and as big as a broken leg but they all can be prevented. Slips, Falls and Bites are among the most common and depending on their severity can range from relatively fine to ending a whole hike.

To make sure you avoid situations like these you should introduce preventative measures, lots of slips and falls are caused every year by people rushing themselves or not having the correct shoes for hiking. Not only is it important to have the right shoes but to also make sure that they are well worn in.

Bites are also relatively common on hikes because of peoples under-education around spiders and snakes that leads to these events, planning for if someone is bitten should be part of the planning stage of you hike and should include what to do when someone gets bitten.

2. Lack of Water

Water is always a precious resource and this is never more true than in hiking, enduring long hard days of hiking with little to no water is near impossible so it is important that you bring exactly the amount of water you need for the duration of your hike.

You may be hiking for several days on end so it is very important to mark places that have water on your map so when you’re on the trail you know where you can next fill up your bottles.

It is advised that you carry at a minimum of 2 litres of water per person per day for a hike otherwise you risk the consequences of being dehydrated and put you and others in unnecessary danger.

3. Unexpected Weather

Weather is one of many variables in hiking that are simply out of your control, though you may not be able to control the weather you can prepare for it in advance so you are not as effected when the weather unexpectantly changes.

Some of the things to remember are rain jackets and coats for wet weather alongside hats and sunscreen for when the weather turns hot.

On top of making sure to pack the right things you must also make plans for how you will respond to different weather situations like storms, fires and heatwaves, these plans should be scalable and escalatable depending on how the weather changes.

4. Under Preparedness

Getting ready for a hike takes time, it's important you get it right the first time as mistakes in the planning stage of a hike can cause much bigger problems later down the track when you are hiking the trail.

Make sure that you have maps ready for your hike to help you avoid getting lost and make sure that they are all marked with your emergency exits and places you can get water from in emergencies. Doing both of these things are really important for your safety and the safety of others hiking with you but is just one part of being prepared.

Being prepared for a hike also means making sure that you have absolutely everything that you need and that all your equipment works, even if it takes you 5 for 6 times to make sure you have everything it is better than finding out you don’t have it mid-way through a hike.

5. Overestimating your abilities

Some newer hikers can make the mistake of going too big too fast, you should always take your time in building up to bigger hikes as overestimating your abilities can put you in a lot of danger. Doing consecutively harder, small hikes will help build your skills and confidence in hiking while remaining within your abilities.

When you feel you are ready you can go for that bigger hike but remember that these trails aren't going anywhere and will still be there tomorrow so take your time until you’re certain you’re ready for the bigger more challenging hikes.

That was a brief outline of some of the biggest risks you may face on a hike, these big risks can change depending on terrain, grade and area but these five are common in most places of Australia and the wider world.

Written by Josh Welch


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