What could make you more independent, strong, and skillful than hiking solo?
That’s why it’s so attractive to travelers of all ages and capabilities to try their skills alone in the wilderness.
But, of course, solo hiking demands more preparation and experience. Especially when we’re talking about women hiking alone.
Hike&Cycle cares about your safety and wants your first solo hiking trip to be as successful as possible. That’s why we’ve prepared the following tips that every woman should know before hitting the trail.
The article is separated into six chapters, all of which are important to explore carefully. We believe you’ll find a lot of useful recommendations to try out during your solo trip.
We’ll also show you that hiking alone is not just a dream but reality!
Many people might try to talk you out of it because “a woman can’t go hiking alone.”
But we’re here to tell you: a woman can. And she must, if she wants.
These dozens of examples will make you realize that hiking in the woods isn’t really any more dangerous than crossing the street. The only thing you need is careful preparation.
And we’re here to tell you about the rules and guidelines for facing nature alone. Follow them, and you’ll overcome any challenge and conquer any mountaintop!
Basic Safety Rules
For a lone traveler, it’s more important to worry about safety than it is for group hikers. To avoid getting lost, injured, or stuck in the middle of a storm, follow these recommendations.
1. Test your equipment a week before the adventure.
When traveling by yourself, make sure your gear is as ready as you are:
- All tools should function perfectly and be free of rust.
- Every fastener on your backpack and clothes should work well.
- Your clothes and shoes should be free of holes.
- If you take a bike, check the chain, brakes, and wheels.
- Make sure there are no leaks in the kitchenware and water reservoirs.
- All necessary gadgets should work.
2. Ask a friend or relative to watch your back.
Always tell a person you trust when you’re going for a solo travel tour. You’ll feel more comfortable if there is someone who knows where you went and when you should be back.
What kind of information should you give this person?
- The map of your route
- Key destinations along the way
- The date and time of your return
- Your campground location and details
It’s also a nice habit to inform them of your coordinates from time to time. Whenever you get a bar on your phone, let them know where you are.
3. Always check weather reports.
When choosing places to travel solo, always investigate several weather reports.
For example, AccuWeather is a useful source that predicts accurate temperatures, pressure systems, and other conditions.
Mountain Forest predicts the weather on many mountain peaks around the USA. The forecasts can even be filtered by altitude; for each 1,000 meters you climb, the temperature and snow forecast differs.
4. Visit every ranger station.
This is one of the best solo trips ideas.
Make your route through the nearest ranger stations. Tell them what your name is, how long you’re going to spend hiking, and when you’ll be back.
Give them the phone number of a relative or friend as well, just in case you don’t return on time.
This way, you’ll be sure someone will notice if you get off track.
Rangers also have a lot of useful information. They can inform you of the safest places for single female travelers and warn you about wild animals or dangerous routes.
5. Build your first aid kit carefully.
Especially when hiking solo, girls should prepare their first aid kits more carefully than when they’re traveling in a group.
Source: WEM Journal
Why is it important?
A single traveler can’t rely on anyone else for help. If you’re sick or injured, you need to have everything within reach.
You may find yourself in a situation in which you don’t have the capability or energy to get to a ranger station or nearby town—so it’s important to bring all emergency care items yourself.
Here you’ll find a full list of items to include in your first aid kit.
And here are some things to double check in your kit:
- Expiration dates of medications
- Extra batteries for thermometers, tonometers, and other digital devices
- Clear organization of the items
- Properly written names of medications
You should also optimize your gear list to the actual conditions and weather—bug repellent, sunscreen, and so on.
6. Never listen to music during a hike.
We know—walking all alone can be super annoying or lonely.
But leave the headphone habit to jogging in a city park.
Wearing earbuds during a hike can be extremely dangerous. Even during day hiking, you need to be aware of lots of things around you.
When you’re listening to music, you can’t hear the bear huffing before the attack, or the tree cracking before falling, or the rattling of rocks before the landslide… There are plenty of sounds to warn you of danger, so shouldn’t you be able to hear them?
Moreover, aren’t sounds a beautiful part of being on the trail? Birds singing, leaves rustling, and water splattering are as great as the music in your headphones.
7. Keep your cell phone charged.
When backpacking alone, it’s crucial to have a backup plan.
We advise you not to rely on your devices too much. But still it’s important to take your smartphone with you.
If hiking is your passion, you can even buy a specific brand. Snopow and Blackview, for example, are great for those who spend a lot of time in the wild. These brands are known for their long battery life, water and dust protection, and shock-proof bodies.
First of all, having your smartphone is a safety method. You can use it in case of injury, getting lost, or other dangers. Even the presence of a cell phone gives many women a feeling of security
Secondly, there are many hiking apps to help you on your adventure. Read this hiking apps guide to find trail maps, survival tips, and navigation help.
Remember, however, to save your battery for emergency situations. If your battery wears out fast, bring a power bank. There are some cheap devices strong enough to charge your iPhone 6 – 8 times.
8. Learn how to transmit an emergency signal.
This is one of the most important tips for traveling alone—never start a trip without knowing how to call for help.
There are lots of ways to transmit a signal. One of them is to use a GPS messenger.
It’s even better to have a personal locator with you than a super-expensive smartphone. Hiking GPS locators like SPOT and Delorme save many lives every year.
Many of them have two main functions:
- To inform your friends or relatives that you need assistance
- To contact 911 and other agencies in case of emergency
In fact, if you have one of these locators, you don’t even need a cell phone. Location trackers are pocket-sized, stay connected wherever you go, and have a long battery life. With such strong competitors available, cell phones really just add weight and take up space.
They’re a perfect choice for beginners, amateurs, and experienced thru-hikers.
Learn to use flares and signal mirrors. They are easy to transport but can save your life. They’re especially necessary in dangerous areas—like wild animals’ habitats or mountain trails.
You should also know how to transmit SOS signals with fire and flashlights.
How to Prepare Yourself Physically
When hiking solo, you should be fit enough to handle the trail alone.
That doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day for a year before hitting the trail. Honestly, even a couch potato can handle day hiking!
But still, you have a lot of things to keep in mind.
9. Start small.
Begin your hiking experience with short day trips. The more skills you gain; the more difficult routes you’ll be able to choose.
Know when you need to stop and go home.
Never spend all of your energy just because you’re slower. Find your own pace and distance.
10. Eat a lot.
During outdoor activities, we use a lot of energy, so it’s important to keep calories at a high enough level.
To accomplish that, every solo hiking woman should forget about dieting and eat as much as she needs.
No one gets fat during hiking—so prepare a lot of snacks to get enough calories.
Fortunately, there are easy hiking food recipes. Just pack some jerky, nuts, fruit leather, and energy bars.
11. Change your lifestyle.
Preparations for long-distance hiking can influence your lifestyle and appearance.
For example, female thru hikers often cut their hair short to make it more comfortable—you won’t notice when it’s dirty and it won’t become a tangled mess in strong winds.
Another tip is to get used to wearing a backpack. Try to wear one instead of stylish bags or purses in your daily life. When you first start wearing a backpack, it may be uncomfortable even when it weighs only a couple of kilograms. As you wear it more, you’ll build up strength.
12. Choose clothing according to the temperature and your chosen activity.
Wondering what to wear for hiking?
Solo female hikers have a wide choice of traveling gear. Boots, pants, hoodies—you can find anything you need in your local outdoor store or at online shops.
Now you just need to decide which items to take. Check the weather reports carefully to know whether you’ll need warm clothes or not. But always carry something to protect yourself from rain and cold.
You need to keep many features in mind when getting your hiking gear. For example, if you need to buy new shoes, think about whether you need waterproof boots or lightweight sneakers.
Always layer your clothes—it’s great for adapting to any temperature or weather condition.
13. Take enough water.
As you know, it can be extremely dangerous to drink water from rivers and lakes.
If you decide to solo-hike, you should make accurate calculations and bring enough water.
How can you do so?
The best way is to learn how much you need. Notice how much you drink during trips and what makes you drink more than usual. Starting with short trails, you’ll figure out how many liters you usually go through.
An average human should drink about 2 liters of water per day. But you should always take more water than you think you’ll need.
14. Watch your blood-sugar level.
The best solo hikes in the world can be combined with sweets!
When you exercise more than usual, your blood-sugar level often falls. This can ruin your rest in the wilderness and create real danger because you may feel dizzy and tired.
But here’s the good news:
Having some special hike snacks with you will help. Always keep dark chocolate with you to prevent nausea, anxiety, and fainting.
Some other recommended day hike snacks for energy are:
Watch your blood-sugar level so you can stay active and healthy all day long.
15. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
Hiking alone in a bear country or in a remote area full of cliffs and streams already sounds like a great adventure.
A single traveler shouldn’t risk everything by taking unsafe actions.
If the weather seems uncomfortable or unsafe, don’t leave your shelter. If the cliff is too high, take a detour.
There’s no reason to be risky during solo getaways. If you want to test your limits, find a hiking buddy!
How to Prepare Yourself Psychologically
There are many people out there who say that hiking alone is weird, dangerous, and even inappropriate for a lady.
You may have also heard crime statistics on popular trails or seen terrifying reports on TV.
All these things can discourage even those who are fully prepared for a solo journey.
Here are some tips to beat stories of scary hiking trails and stay brave from start to finish!
16. Walk around your city often.
Do you feel anxious about being alone while walking in a park or jogging near your home?
Most of the time, you probably don’t.
Then why be afraid of solo backcountry camping?
People exaggerate the dangers of being alone in the wild. Don’t search for stats about how many people die at the Grand Canyon. Investigate new places in your city instead.
Travel a lot to conquer your fear of the unknown.
17. Take your dog with you.
A four-legged friend is all you need to feel confident on the trail.
And here’s why it works:
If you’re afraid of running into bad people on the trail, your dog will give you courage. It will also guard your gear and camp food if someone wants to steal it.
At the same time, you have to be responsible for your pet’s life and health. If you take your dog with you, it’ll make you more independent and strong.
Some small advice:
Under no circumstances should you take your pet into a known bear habitat. A human may figure out how to get away from a bear, but dogs are more often made prey by grizzlies and their relatives.
18. Hike with a friend but camp some distance apart
Hiking with a buddy isn’t scary at all. And if you’re someone who’s used to hiking with a friend, it can be difficult for you to be all alone on a trail.
We think that the only right way to make a change is to do it in little steps. The first step for those who never hike alone is the following: go backpacking together but camp some distance apart.
This way, you won’t panic about getting in trouble while you’re alone, but at the same time, you’ll learn how to become more independent.
This tip is a great opportunity to test yourself. But first make sure that your friend agrees to this way of camping. You don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable, do you?
19. Take an old route.
Are you hiking solo for the first time? Start with a trail you know well.
Don’t worry about your adventure being boring—nature changes a lot every season.
Sure, you won’t be able to test your planning and navigating skills. But you will definitely have some new experiences.
When you know every path and tree, it’s easier to prepare for the trail mentally.
20. Watch through-hike movies.
Looking for inspiration?
Create a hiking movie list. There are lots of films about people just like you and me overcoming their fears and hitting the trail.
Nothing will motivate you more than a great story about ordinary people who make their dreams come true.
21. Subscribe to women outdoor blogs.
This may be the most interesting piece of advice:
Follow female hiking blogs.
You may not believe it—but there are hundreds of them! You can always find women who have shared their thru-hiking experience and travel secrets online.
Following these blogs will inspire you to pack up your gear:
- I Could Drive Forever (but I’m Walking Instead)
- A Weak at the Beach
- Flora the Explorer
- Hiking for Her
- Appalachian Trail Girl
- A Dangerous Business
- Hiking Lady
- Women Who Hike
- As the Trail Turns
- Solo Traveler Blog
- Hike Like a Woman
We’re sure that these blogs will encourage you on to great adventures! By the way, some of these resources are also useful for finding a buddy for through-hiking.
How to Plan Your Trip Accurately
Hiking trips fully depend on careful planning.
After all, your maps would be completely different if you were hiking the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.
Here are some solo backpacking tips for accurate preparation.
22. Follow a backpacking list.
How do you usually prepare for a journey? Have you ever forgotten something important for successful thru hiking?
We advise you to use accurate backpacking guides to make sure you’re ready.
Use one of the ones below (but be sure to update it according to your weather conditions and outdoor activity):
23. Choose a well-known route.
When backpacking solo, you need to master essential skills and have a lot of experience.
We advise you not to go alone on dangerous or lesser-known trails. It’s better to choose one with lots of hikers on it.
On the web, there are many reviews of the best solo hiking trails. They contain information on all ranger stations, water sources, woods, cliffs, and so on. Add as many of these important details as you can to your map.
24. Learn how to use maps and navigation tools.
Traveling the world alone safely is almost impossible—at least without the proper tools!
Doing so with a map and a compass is the reality.
First of all, learn the signs you need to know in order to read topo maps correctly. REI has an informative guide on how to read a map.
Always keep a printed map with you. Navigation apps can also be useful for thru hiking, so download some on your smartphone as well.
25. Always know your coordinates.
When traveling by yourself, divide your route into detailed sections on your map. Mark the dates on them to know which part to use for the next day.
While on the trail, constantly check whether you’re heading in the right direction.
Begin each morning by investigating your route for the day. Consult the map every 30 minutes to make sure you haven’t left the route.
How to Avoid Meeting Wild Animals
Camping alone can be scary.
Many hikers spend their first night outdoors wide awake, listening to every little noise.
Want to know what their greatest fear is?
A wild animal attack.
If you’re worrying, don’t! We know how to guarantee restful sleep for you. Just follow our tips that every male or female hiking alone can handle.
26. Learn common animal tracks.
Learning how to distinguish animal tracks doesn’t take much time but could save your life.
On Nature Tracking, you can find dozens of pictures of animal tracks. By investigating these examples, you’ll learn to identify bears, coyotes, bobcats, wolves, foxes, cougars, skunks, raccoons, and much more.
Here’s our new infographic that you can download on your smartphone. It will help you distinguish dangerous animals by their tracks:
If you find tracks or signs of a predator in a national park or on a trail, immediately leave the area.
27. Know when you enter a bears’ habitat.
Before hitting the trail, find out whether there are any bears there. Encountering a bear definitely isn’t the safest way to spend your weekend.
Check the websites of the national parks you’re going to visit. Have any bears have been spotted?
Also, use the National Parks Service’s map to know whether there is any possibility of seeing a bear.
If you’re going to the bear’s area, reduce the dangers of hiking alone by talking to park rangers first. They will be able to tell you where bears have been spotted most recently.
28. Carry bear spray or canisters.
Bear spray is a must when you’re entering wild animal habitats.
On the Internet, you can find a lot of stories about female hikers attacked by bears surviving the encounter thanks to bear spray.
For example, in this video, the woman scares a bear away, but it takes revenge on her by wrecking her kayak:
After the beast leaves, she has to swim to the yacht to leave the area.
Remember not to use the bear spray just any time that you see a bear. Bears attack are rare, and you can usually escape them without being aggressive.
29. Store your food wisely.
Many hikes in Washington, Tennessee, and Arizona are considered dangerous because of the high bear activity. But being robbed by a group of raccoons isn’t a great way to spend your vacation either.
That’s why it doesn’t matter whether there are bears in your area or not—you should always store your food securely.
On Amazon, you can find various smell proof containers. Use them to keep wild animals out of your camp.
30. Don’t cook near your camp.
If you’re going overnight hiking, never cook right before going to sleep.
Prepare all your food at least a mile away from your campground. Never spend the night in a place where you cook. It’ll help you stay safe from uninvited guests.
We also advise you not to eat in your camp. Any smell can attract wild creatures, so be careful.
31. If you see an animal carcass, leave immediately.
One of the worst trail hazards is to face a beast protecting its offspring or its food.
If there is a dead animal on your trail, don’t get close to it. Leave the area, and watch for animals signs around you.
If necessary, make a long detour to lower the chances of facing the hungry animal.
How to Behave with Other People on the Trail
When trying to find out whether hiking is dangerous, some think of injuries, others think of bears and wolves, and others, of course, think about other people on the trail.
For females camping alone, it is essential to follow the following tips to go hiking the trail without worries.
32. Stay away from the road.
The greatest dangers of hiking alone are rarely posed by other travelers. The majority of bad things happen near the road.
By the way, camping alone in the woods is more pleasant than the dust and noise of roadways anyway!
If you don’t want to take some scary hiking trails—choose the route you’re most comfortable with.
On the web, you can find lots of travel girls’ blogs full of reviews, photos, and details to choose the best female solo routes.
Just wait until the end of the article to see some examples!
33. Don’t be creeped out by other hikers.
Going hiking for the first time when there’s no one around can be disturbing. But there are fewer risks than you might think, especially from other hikers.
Women traveling alone are often anxious when meeting other hikers. Especially if it’s a group of male travelers.
Honestly, even when these other hikers start talking to them, female backpackers don’t usually have a reason to panic. More often, you will say a couple of words to each other and then go your separate ways.
Nothing to be freaked out about.
34. Don’t transmit your coordinates on social media.
We know how excited you are about your future trip.
But sharing your location on the web isn’t the greatest idea. Safe places to travel alone are those that can’t be found for evil purposes.
So even if you want to share a beautiful photo on Instagram or Facebook, wait several hours to post it online.
If you’re a lone traveler, don’t share your route with strangers. The one exception is park rangers—do let them know your destinations.
35. Hitchhike wisely.
If you need to catch a ride while thru hiking, try to join other hikers from your trail. There’s even a small chance you’ll find other solo ladies.
But any hiker can make nice company.
When traveling alone as a female, pay attention to drivers as well. The best choice is to get a ride with other travelers who are going to camp or spend time on a trail.
Also, an alone lady has more chances to hitchhike with a traveling family—which is the safest option.
36. Text friends or relatives when meeting other people on the trail.
Remember when we said that all women hiking alone should have a backup?
Well, here is an example:
Traveling in a car with strangers—even when you’re sticking with a hiking group.
In this case, call or text a friend. Tell them where you’re going, who your partners are, what car they have, and where their destination is.
It’s also great to send a couple of photos if the internet connection allows.
37. Trust yourself.
Women traveling together or alone need to trust their instincts.
If a person seems suspicious, be aware and leave them as soon as you can.
If something about your travel excursion doesn’t seem right, go home.
If your gut feeling tells you to finish your journey, don’t waste time on slow decisions.
This has nothing to do with your strength or independence—your instincts and knowledge are all you have in the wild, so learn to trust them.
38. Be open to making new friends.
Did you know that the USA is the safest country to travel alone? In many countries, you would never find a single girl traveling in the woods or through the mountains.
In reality, traveling America alone isn’t as scary as you might think.
The majority of travelers are nice and interesting people. Don’t miss out on a chance to find new friends during the adventure.
To wrap it up, we’d like to mention Aspen Matis’ quote from Girl in the Woods: “We aren’t afraid of what we can explain.”
So read our articles, get ready for the challenges, and then beat them! With the right preparations, women hiking alone can be ready for any difficulty.
Do you have any favorite female hiking bloggers? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!