Hiking alone: Tips for your first solo hike

Written by  Jens  on 22-06-2020
Hiking alone: Tips for your first solo hike

Tips for your first time hiking alone

In the past I have been in the situation where I wanted to go for a hike, and no one wanted to join me. In this situation there are two options:  Option 1, you can stay at home and never go for a hike. Option 2 is to just put on your hiking shoes and go out hiking alone! 

I am sure there are a lot of people who have been in the same situation and can relate to this problem. 

If you are interested in going on a solo hike, but you have some fears or insecurities about hiking alone, this blog is written for you! 

Hiking alone can be quite scary at first but once you get the hang of it, hiking solo can be just as much fun as hiking with your friends. 

I did my first solo hike in 2016

Let’s just talk about the first time I started hiking alone. In september 2016 i went on an interrail trip through South Europe. For those who don’t know wat an interrail trip is, an interrail trip is basically a backpack trip by train. 

After a summer full of work I decided to go on a backpack trip by myself. I never travelled solo so travelling alone was a big step for me. During this backpack trip I visited countries like Slovenia, Austria and Italy. I went hiking alone in all of those countries. Some hikes were longer then others, but all of them I did by myself.

What did I learn during my first solo hike?

During a hike in Austria I learned that it is important to be well prepared. I went on a unprepared hiking trip. I didn’t bring enough water and I also didn’t bring enough food. After a couple of hours I consumed all the food I brought with me. Hiking on a empty stomach just isn’t fun. So I guess the biggest lesson I learned during my first solo hike was to be well prepared.

Tips for hiking alone

Remember: everyone started out somewhere, just like you are starting out right now. If you don't know what you are doing, that's fine. If you have a question, don't be afraid to ask. A lot of people are willing to help you along the way. Hiking alone is also a great way to make new friends. People will often be interested in the stories you have to tell!

Make sure you are prepared

Tip 1 of course is to be well prepared. Always bring enough food and water when you go for a hike. Also, do not bring too much because it’s only weight that you have to carry around with you.

Pick a hiking trail that is well travelled

There is no shame in staying on the main tracks at first. If you are just starting out hiking by yourself just try out the main hiking trails. It is nice to have some people around you in case something bad happens. There is no need for taking unnecessary risks during your first solo hike. 
Once you get the hang of hiking alone, you can slowly pick hiking trails that are less crowded.

Start Small

Your fist solo hike doesn’t have to be a 20 mile hike. Try to start out small with a more easier hiking trail. Most of the times these hikes can be just as much fun as the more challenging ones. It’s always good to know your limits, especially when you aren’t that familiar with hiking alone. If you feel that you are getting tired, start making your way back to the starting point.

Check the weather

This is an more obvious tip, but it’s to important to leave it out. Make sure to check the weather before you start hiking. The last thing you want when hiking solo is to get caught up in a storm. Weather conditions can change quite sudden, especially up high in the mountains. I always check the weather the day before I start my hike. A good way to make sure that there isn’t any bad weather coming up is to ask the locals. They know the lands you are about to conquer better then anyone. 

Tell someone where you are going to hike

Before you start your solo hike, make sure to inform somebody about the trail you are going to be hiking that day. If you travel with friends or family, just inform them. If you travel alone, you can always inform someone at your hotel or apartment. 

 Another nice way to stay in touch during a solo hike can be to stream your live location with an app like Strava or Alltrails. Personally I often share my live location in a WhatsApp group chat of our family before I start hiking. The only downside of this solution is that when your phone has no signal, nobody is going to know where you are. A way to avoid this is by using a satellite gps tracker.

Bring your map

When you are going out for a solo hike, it’s important to know where you are going. Since phone service can be quite bad in less populated areas, it is a good idea to make sure that you’re maps are working. 

If you are using an app like Alltrails or Komoot to navigate, try testing out if your map is working offline. You can test this easily by off your 4g and wifi. Most of these apps have a feature where you can download the maps and make them available offline. 

Of course it is always a good idea to bring an old-school map or gps. 

Stay on the trail

If it’s your fist time hiking alone, it’s probably a good idea to stay on the hiking trails. Leaving a hiking trail can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know where you are going. Following the trail markers is the safest way to go. Remember, if you are hiking alone and leaving the trail, there won’t be anyone to help you if you need it.

Research the environment you are hiking in

Knowing the environment is essential if you are going on a first hike. It’s good to know the possible dangers that are around. The nature can be a danger to you, but you can also be a danger to nature. Be smart and research the local wildlife before you go out for a solo hike.

Of course the tips mentioned in this blog post aren’t the only things you should focus on when hiking alone for the first time. This list contains just a some of the things I would think of when going out for a solo hike.

Last but not least: Evaluate

Once you completed your first solo hike, you are not done yet. Evaluate your hike and try to come up with things you could improve before hiking alone again. 

Being able to go out and hike alone is amazing. 
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