It is the road less-traveled. But, if the thought of carrying an oversized backpack hiking like an adventurous hobbit is alluring, you should go for it. You should, however, know that it will be tough. The jitters are normal. At some point, you will wish you never got started. However, at the end of every hike, you’ll appreciate your decision to take up solo hiking.
First things first, why are you taking on solo hiking trips? From the experiences of those who’ve gone through the trail before you, the benefits of solo trekking include:
Spiritual growth and health
Solitude is the biggest driver for solo hikers. When alone on the trail, you have uninterrupted time for relaxation and self-examination. You’ll meditate, contemplate and zone out without. This lets you connect with your inner self and nature. It brings out spiritual awakening as well.
You’ll face your fears head-on
Are you afraid of being alone, heights, wild animals, storms, insects or darkness? Go for a solo backpack. Whatever your fear is, just face it alone.
An opportunity to gain outdoor skills
Being alone means figuring out how to survive in the wild. So, pack all the essential survival items and get ready to explore. Along the way, you will learn new things, and you’ll be able to save yourself and others in future.
Being part of a hiking team means following their schedule. As a solo hiker, you can change your schedule. You can walk faster, slower, and pick a camping location. Finally, you get to take breaks as often as you wish to.
You are one with nature
Besides meditating and self-exploration, solo hikes let you breathe and drink in nature. You can watch birds and wild animals without worry. You can look at the skies and just be one with nature. Also, you don’t have to speak out loud with plants, unless you want to!
You can challenge yourself
Personal growth and development are all about challenging yourself. Can you hike faster? Do you have the necessary level of endurance? Can you handle storms and uncomfortable weather? Taking up challenges is the best way for you to become better and stronger.
Shedding extra pounds
You can look at solo backpacking trips as a way to becoming fitter. You will most definitely shed some pounds and become physically fit with every trail you take.
So, yes, take on backpacking alone for soul searching, strength, stamina, weight loss, and for the simple satisfaction of being able to do it!
Personal safety for solo hikers
Besides it having immense benefits, it isn’t accident-proof. Anything can happen on the trail. So, how do you stay safe? You may learn here.
- Be ready. Your readiness determines how well or badly you will handle this challenge. Ask yourself this, “how much can I handle?”
- Start small. You cannot start with the Appalachian. In as much as you’d like to go far fast, start with a day-long hike then go on from there. Also, determine how long the hikes take.
- Know the terrain. You don’t have to physically review the trail; Googling and asking other hikers is a good place to start. Read the maps too for information about the height and the type of vegetation in the area.
- Check-in. Now, this is critical. No radio-silence when hiking alone. A quick text to your family or friends, every once in a while is important. Communication makes the difference between peace of mind and an emergency search and rescue. Hence, better equip yourself with a long-range two-way radio.
- Check the weather reports. The weather forecasts may be wrong. However, knowing if you’ll be in a storm or you’ll bathe in the sun determines your safety and comfort.
- Stick to one busy trail. A busy trail because you can talk to people and also because you can get into an accident. Sticking to one trail/ path ensures that you don’t get lost or disoriented.
- Get ample supplies. Whether you are hiking for a day or not, pack enough layers, blister plasters, and food. The rule applicable here is prioritizing.
Checklist for a solo backpacker
- First and foremost, you will need the best backpacking backpacks.
- What to wear
- Shoes – get the right shoes. You can wear sneakers, vibrams or hiking boots. The nature of the trail should guide this.
- You should also pack socks, hiking pants, hiking shirts, a jacket and a hat.
- You also need a fully-charged cell phone with handy outdoor apps like GPS, and distance trackers. A power bank too. Also, carry a camera, a book, bug spray, sunscreen, and first aid. Throw in sunglasses, a pocket knife, and enough backpacking food. Carry enough snacks, fruits, water and some protein.
What kind of route to select for hiking alone.
As mentioned above, you must always take a busy route. In as much as you seek solitude, human interaction will keep you sane and safe. In the event of an accident, other hikers will easily find you and get you help. Also, if you get lost, you will be found faster.
When in the hiking trails, adhere to trail directions and avoid dangerous parts if warned.
- You get to test your outdoor skills
- You have flexibility
- Solo hiking trip challenges and pushes you
- It is important for soul-searching and spiritual growth
- Hiking solo is satisfying
- You will make new friends
- It is healthy, and you will lose some weight
- No doubt, it is important for self-exploration
- Solo backpack builds strength and stamina
- Be careful, you may get injured and have no one to help you out
- You may not have sufficient equipment
- You could get lost
- Poor preparation.
Being a solo hiker is as exhilarating as it is scary. Being alone in the wilderness isn’t the normal human thing to do. However, being outdoors doesn’t just make you adaptable, you also gain new perspectives about life and living. Hiking in itself makes you mentally and physically strong. It feels great to achieve a goal. You will make new friends. So, instead of explaining to people why you are hiking solo, ask this instead, why not? Further, for more solo backpacking tips you may refer Washington Trail Association site.
Now that you are ready for your first solo hike, do these
- Create a perfect hiking playlist
- Try urban hiking (tall buildings)
- Make your experience better by aiming for the high ground, always!