Campfire stories and urban legends are rife with an array of villains that range from stalking strangers to rabid animals. Careful hikers and campers often look to weapons or daylight to protect them from some unknown horror lurking in the dark. In reality, the most deadly adversary in nature isn’t animals, people, and monsters.
The leading causes of death in the wild is more surprising than you think, they are:
Anything from icey to wet surfaces is the worst problem. Most people simply slip and fall and are either too injured to get up or are not found and die of dehydration.
In this brief guide, we are going to go over the best ways to protect yourself and get through the main difficulties while out in the wild.
Your footwears plays a massive role in what kind of terrain you can and cannot be a part of. There are special ice shoes that have spikes that are made for walking across thick ice. That doesn't mean that it is wise to walk across a freshly frozen lake and expect to be safe.
The main point is pick up shoes that are meant for the environment that you are going to be hiking through. If you are going through high grass, mud, and uneven surfaces, you want shoes that can both comfortably support your ankles and feet but will keep them dry, and dig into the ground.
Your shoes should also keep you protected from invaders such as ticks by allowing your pants to be tucked into them. Many hiking boots are meant for a range of non-slip surfaces from wet rocks to weak mud. If you want to enjoy your outdoor experience, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and pick up the proper footwear.
One thing that many hikers who reach an unfortunate end or injury don’t do is know their terrain and remain alert/aware.
Don’t make the mistake of going down poorly lit areas or hard to navigate trails that don’t have proper lighting.
Don’t start a hike or exploring adventure without at least knowing about the hazards that can be found on it/in the area.
One of the most underutilized tools due to the stigma or lack of interest for many hikers are hiking sticks. While they may seem like tedious additions to a journey, they have more advantages than just support and defense while trekking.
The main reason that it would be advantageous to have one is that of their ability to act as a checking tool. You can use your hiking stick to feel out weak or solid pieces of surface to walk on, and it can give you an idea of any sinkability or wetness that could lead to sliding or sticky situations.
There are a few options for hiking stick materials. If you choose a metal or hollowed but heavy/solid based hiking stick, it will give you more a thorough feel where things are and in some cases expand to give you more reach for when you need more thorough inspections.
Another of the big mistakes that hikers make when out in the wild is breaking off the trail. Trails were built for a reason. While it feels good to explore a bit and take notice of things that have been marked off the trail, it’s best not to stray too far for a few reasons.
First, the farther you are off the trail, the less likely people are to find you if you are injured or worse. According to some stories, some hikers have had to wait for as long as 48 hours even barely off the trail for someone to notice them just because of the severity of their injuries. Sticking to the trail goes a long way to minimizing your risk of injury.
Second, there is a higher level of unpredictability of what you will find off the trail from wildlife to footing variability. While seeing wildlife is fun, the last thing you want is to wander into an animal's territory. While that's not very likely, the high chance of stumbling because of tripping and falling is increased in the rough areas off the trail.
While we have gone over the basics of what you need to keep in mind while hiking through the woods, there is a few situation specific tips to bear in mind a well:
Don't attempt to cross water just because something may be frozen over. In many cases, there is still rushing water just below the surface, and that can manifest in some serious problems.
Pay attention to frosted inclines, because moisture can turn to ice and make an incline twice as dangerous. Some people don't know how not to slip on ice. Check your footing, take your time, dig in carefully, and keep your balance spread.
Be aware of the effect that the altitude has on your body, it’s easy to lose consciousness because of the added stress on the body. Don’t attempt to climb more than you are capable of and be sure to only climb with a partner.
While it may seem obvious, just as it is important in cold environments and high altitude environments, it's important to pay attention to your hydration levels, your motor skills and judgment can be impaired if you don't stay hydrated.
There is no more serious threat of sinking or being stuck in things like pluff mud than there is in wetlands. Don’t trudge through any wet area without testing footing to avoid being stuck until the tide returns and facing a watery end.
We hope this guide helps keep you and whomever you decide to share it with safe when on your next adventure. Regardless of your experience level, it's easy to forget the important details that keep you safe. It's important always to remember; the best adventures are the safest ones.