Hiking alone as a woman is an idea that concerns some people. After all, as women we have spent our entire lives being told that we should not walk alone at night, not walk alone when the sun starts going down, not walk alone in remote or wooded areas. The list goes on…
So, when you consider all of those factors which we are often told are “common sense” things that we are supposed to adhere to, where does that leave hiking alone as a woman? Surely doing so is breaking the “rules” of all of the things that we have had iterated to us again and again our entire lives.
Hiking alone as a woman is actually a very rewarding experience. Yes, there are additional precautions that you need to take. Honestly, nobody can fully assure you that hiking solo is completely safe.
It is up to you to decide what you are comfortable with. I personally never want to let my gender or my appearance dictate what should be considered acceptable for me to do.
Hiking Alone as a Woman
I love nature and the outdoors, and most of the time, I prefer to hike by myself anyway. There is something almost magical about standing by yourself in the middle of a valley, with nothing but trees, streams, and rolling hills in front of you.
I have done complex treks around the world, some involving an amount of technical hiking, others at high altitudes. I’ve been trekking in Bhutan, explored the trails of Cappadocia, conquered the monastery hike at Petra, and camped in the blue mountains of Australia. Sometimes I meet other travellers to hike with and sometimes I go hiking alone.
I have lived in Greece since 2017 and during that time, I have explored a significant amount of Greece and her islands on foot.
Many of the hikes I’ve conquered in rural Greece are far from popular or well-known trails. I have often been hiking for hours and not seen a single soul. However, I have never once felt uncomfortable.
Your first solo female hiking trip may be a little bit daunting. Trekking off into the woods alone is nerve-wracking. However, in time, you will get your rhythm and more than likely, you will wonder what it is that you were so concerned about to begin with.
Start with small hikes to begin with. If you don’t like it, you’re not isolated in the middle of the wilderness by yourself. You’ve tried something new at least, and you’ve learned that hiking alone as a woman is not for you!
Things to Consider When Hiking Alone as a Woman
When it comes to hiking alone, the most valuable tool that you can take with you is your common sense. Be aware of your surroundings, trust your intuition, and don’t push your limits too much.
Start small so that you can build up your comfort in being alone and your confidence in managing things by yourself. A well-marked, signposted trail that takes a couple of hours in length is the perfect starting point for hiking alone.
On a short trail, you are likely to encounter other hikers also. As a result, you will never feel panicked or isolated if you encounter any problems. This helps you build up your solo hiking confidence gradually.
Steer clear of hikes that involve any technical climbing and try to pick a route that is well-paved with flat terrain. Don’t go too extreme into organising a multi-day, long-distance camping extravaganza for your first hike.
Most national parks offer a plethora of trails to suit different ages, fitness levels, and abilities. Glacier National Park is one such example – clear information is provided on who the routes are and are not suitable for.
Tell people your plans
Share your solo hiking itinerary with friends and family at home. This is good practice when traveling alone anyway. Let someone at the hotel or hostel know where you are headed and when you expect to be back.
Some trails (particularly in the US and Australia) have log books at regular checkpoints. Add your name to those so you are registered as being on the route.
At the same time, it is important to keep your location off social media. Share your hiking tales, photos, and Instagram stories after the hike.
You never know what strange people are watching your social media. Notably, there may be creepers that are browsing Instagram geotags to see who is around. It just isn’t worth it.
Pack some snacks or a lunch
You are going to find yourself getting hungrier than usual if you are hiking and walking for extended periods of time. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks and foods suitable for hiking. High-fiber, slow energy-release items like trail mix and cereal bars work wonders.
You should also work to keep up your blood sugar levels so that you don’t start feeling faint or suffering from a headache on a trail. To this end, chocolate, Haribo, and hard-boiled sweets are your friend (any excuse!)
Pack plenty of water when solo hiking also. The recommended amount per person per day is two liters. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a little extra. This is especially the case if you are hiking in high temperatures.
If your hike exceeds 5-6 hours, you might want to consider packing a lunch and perhaps a flask of tea/coffee. This is also great as it gives you the chance to sit down, relax, and take in the scenery around you.
Respect the environment
The “leave no trace” concept is essentially the unwritten rules of ethics for being in the great outdoors.
There are some basic considerations that you should keep in mind. For instance, not feeding the wildlife where you shouldn’t, not leaving trash behind, clearing up after yourself properly, and clarifying the rules of the national parks on fires and stoves.
Ensure that you have a first aid kit
If you should feel unwell or have a small fall while out hiking alone there will be no one around to help you. Make sure that you have a decent first aid kit.
You can buy pretty good kits that contain the majority of the essentials but still have plenty of space for adding your own items too. Your kit doesn’t have to be survivalist-level comprehensive.
You don’t want to be carrying too much weight on your back in any case. However, try and be sure you have the essentials. For instance, bandages and band-aids, scissors, tweezers, painkillers, antihistamines, cortisone cream, insect repellent, and any prescription medications that you usually take.
Don’t get crazy and acrobatic
You have seen (or at least heard about) 127 hours, right? A lot of hiking accidents could be avoided by using common sense.
When you set off hiking alone as a woman, you might see some peculiar sights too. For instance, people climbing onto the top of rocks to take selfies, people dangling their feet over the edge of sheer drops, etc.
If you fall while hiking alone, you may not be able to get help so think twice about everything you do. If a pathway is particularly steep or unstable, look for a safer detour.
You would be surprised by how much you can fit into a small 5L backpack! Your first aid kit and snacks are two things to go in there.
It would be easy to overpack for your first hiking trip but remember that whatever goes in your bag is going to be lugged around on your back for the duration of the day. As such, you should err on the side of packing light.
Consider taking a poncho and a rain cover for your backpack if you are hiking somewhere where rain is common. Consider whether you really need trail maps or whether you can use an offline one on your phone.
Check the weather reports
Websites like Accu Weather are incredibly useful for getting a multi-day forecast. It’s imperative to check the weather reports before you venture off.
That way, you know what you need to wear and pack, and whether the conditions are even suitable for hiking in the first place. Hiking in heavy rain and storms can be dangerous, especially in rural areas.
Make like an onion and layer up!
After checking the weather conditions, make sure you are prepared for the changing temperatures throughout the day. Even hot desert places can get cold in the evenings.
Wearing layers may be preferable. This way, you can easily add and remove clothing items as you need, as opposed to ever feeling too hot or too cold.
Don’t be freaked out by other hikers
Some people hiking alone have the same attitude towards encountering other hikers as they would a hungry, angry bear. They hear a twig snap in the distance, see some American guy come bounding out of the trees, and assume they are going to be murdered.
Don’t freak out about encountering other hikers in remote places. You don’t need to be overly friendly.
A simple hello and a nod are fine. However, logically most people aren’t going to have sinister intentions.
If you do encounter a strange or creepy dude then never let on to them that you are alone. Make out as though you are with a friend or boyfriend that has gone on ahead or off to poop in the woods (when you gotta go, you gotta go, right?)
If you feel like someone is following you or loitering around you, hang back. Pretend that you are examining something/ taking a photo/checking your reflection for boogers, etc.
This is not to concern you as more than likely you will be fine. Just something to keep in mind.
Keep your electronics charged
Ensure that your phone has full battery life before embarking on your hike and consider taking a power bank with you. Consider keeping your phone switched off to preserve the battery life and then turn it on if you need something.
Consider buying a GPS locator
For extreme hikes and if you plan on being in the outdoors a lot you can actually buy incredibly strong and sturdy phones built for endurance like Snopow and Blackview. Even if you dropped them down a ravine, these beastly creations would not snap like an iPhone. Many are also waterproof and dustproof.
Replace the batteries for torches before heading off hiking alone and pack a few spares in your backpack. Remember that not everywhere has WiFi or a phone signal and so your phone isn’t always going to be helpful.
This is why you should be sure to download offline maps in advance of setting out. You could also consider buying a GPS Locator like those offered by SPOT and Delorme.
A SPOT device has satellite technology that tracks your location as you progress through a trail. (You can set it up to track where you are at regular intervals and even have it send your location to friends and family).
If you find yourself in danger, you can send your GPS location to the local emergency services with just one push of a button. So, this contraption really could save your life.
Stay away from the road
It’s actually safer for you to be walking along in the trees than it is to do so by the roadside. A lot of hiking problems are caused by people coming along in cars so avoiding walking by the road. If you are camping, pitch your tent away from the road also.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself! If you worry about all the things that may or not happen then you will scare yourself half to death. Once you arrive at the trail, and it’s just you and the footpath, the excitement will kick in.
Have you been hiking alone? What were your experiences solo hiking as a woman? Let me know in the comments below!
Alternatively, if you still have concerns about solo hiking, feel free to reach out to me. I will do my best to help and get back to you ASAP. Safe travels! Melissa xo