What may be an easy hike while the sun is up can quickly turn into a completely different and potentially dangerous situation after the sun goes down. Lack of preparation can lead to trouble.
Using these essential tips for night hiking safety will instead leave you with an all-new experience full of unique sights and sounds that it cannot be experienced during the day.
Night hiking safety
Here are seven useful tips for night hiking safety:
Safety in Numbers
Hiking alone is never a great idea, but hiking alone at night is even worse. Not only will someone be there to keep you company and ward off any spooky feelings you might get, but there is help at hand in case something goes wrong.
It is easier to lose your footing in the dark on rough terrain and injure yourself. More people also means more lights, safety gear and safety against nocturnal predators.
Pack Lights for Everyone
Each person who goes on the nighttime hike should have his or her own light even if they are not all turned on during the journey. Flashlights can be effective, but headlamps leave your hands free.
If you are going on a longer hike overnight, always bring fire-making equipment as well. A lighter and some tinder such as paper or dryer lint can help you light your way with torches if necessary.
Be Polite With Your Light
People take hikes at night to experience nature in a different way. While flashlights and headlamps can help you stay safe on the trail, they can also ruin some experiences.
Turning on the lamp will ruin everyone's night vision, which can be slow to come back after the lights are turned off.
Remember that the safety trumps consideration, but to talk with your group and make a plan for how to use lights politely such as announcing to everyone when you turn one on they can cover their eyes if desired.
Respect the Nocturnal Wildlife
Always respect the unique night creatures moving about you on your hike. Their eyes are usually very sensitive to light and shining a headlamp or taking a flash photo of them would be similar to you looking at the sun through a telescope.
Bring Extra Batteries
Even fresh batteries should have backups. The last thing you want when you are out in the wilderness is to be suddenly left without any light at all.
Be sure to bring batteries for every different type of light your group has.
Be Prepared for Weather Changes
No matter what time of day you go hiking, you always should keep track of the weather report. Hiking at night is usually accompanied by a more pronounced temperature change than one during the day.
Always dress in layers and bring waterproof gear if there is even a slight chance of rain. Rescheduling a night hike for better weather is probably the best idea.
Bring Extra Water and Food
Even though you will not be heated up or de-hydrated by the hot sun, you still need plenty of water and energy-rich snacks for night hikes.
No matter what you bring into the woods, fields or desert, remember to take it out again. Also, remember that different animals can be attracted by the smell of food so choose your snacks accordingly.
Use a known hiking trail
A preferred hiking trail in low-light conditions is one that is familiar and already known. Nighttime isn't the best time to start exploring the different and unknown paths in the wilderness.
Plus, the familiar paths are certain to look quite different when there isn't the sun to illuminate the surroundings.