How to stay safe on solo hikes

Solo hiking offers lots of advantages if you just want to get out on your own with no commitments, but you do need to take a few precautions to minimise risks.

The beauty of hiking on your own, is you’re on your own. The problem of hiking on your own when something goes wrong, is you’re on your own. So while you might prefer your own company and the open trail beckons, be wise and plan ahead just in case. Here are some tips to consider before stepping out alone, including these tips for buying good hiking boots.

  • Be realistic about your skills, pain threshold, fitness and endurance, as well as what you really enjoy when hiking.
  • Think of yourself in the third person -– you are not alone, you are with yourself. You can share the nature you see, hear, taste, and feel. You will carry the memories of your experiences forever as you won’t be distracted by group conversations.
  • Get an understanding of the area where you will hike -– research weather patterns, trails, bailout points, wildlife, elevations, water sources, private properties.
  • Stay on the trail –- cross-country travel can be exciting but damages the environment and makes it difficult to find you in case of emergency.
  • Take baby steps –- short day hikes, overnight trips, weekend outings, week-long backpacking, then long distance treks as your abilities and confidence increases.
  • Think through “what if” scenarios -– what if the campsite is occupied, the stove breaks, the water filter breaks, I get injured and cannot walk, I lose my map or drop my compass, a crazed dingo enters camp, the trail is closed, it rains every day, or it snows? This allows you to plan for what might go wrong, so you’re not completely unprepared.
  • Make detailed plans –- trail maps, weather forecast and seasonal weather, food requirements and expected distance per day.
  • Leave a travel itinerary with someone back home.
  • Check in with a ranger station or other land manager at or near the trailhead and tell them your plans.
  • Get a feel for direction -– at any point in time, you should be able to say, “North is that way” and be generally correct.
  • Read trail journals of past hikers. Learn from their experiences and try to visualise yourself in their situations.
  • Use a tracking or signalling device. There are a range of electronic devices emerging that tell people back home where you are and allow you to send check-in or help messages.

Now that you know how to stay safe, here are the top mountains for climbers in Queensland.