If you’re an avid hiker, you already know the most important safety tips when hitting the trail.
Bring a first aid kit. Pack plenty of water. Use the buddy system.
As you strike out on a new adventure in 2021, you might think the basics are all you need.
But things have changed over the past few years. Between new technology and pandemic regulations, there are new factors to be mindful of when you’re enjoying the outdoors.
Below, we’ll give you a heads up before you head out so you can stay safe (and keep others safe) on the trail.
Stretch and Train before Rushing Back
The past few years have been tough on many hikers’ bodies. Not because of black diamond trails, but because of a lack of exercise and training. Gyms, parks, and trails have been closed around the country, so you may not be able to safely conquer the same routes or haul as much on your back as you could in summer 2019.
Don’t rush back to tough trails and long hikes. Take it slow and allow yourself to build those muscles back up. If not, you could hurt your back or find yourself aching badly after just one day out.
For the first few hikes, make sure to stretch before and after each day. Also, do some daily stretches for at least 2 weeks before your hike. Focus on your legs, shoulders, back, and hips, especially if you’re carrying a big pack.
For longer hikes, we recommend bringing a sports massage gun with you. Portable percussion massage guns like the ExoGun Dream Pro weigh just a couple of pounds and pack easily into a bag.
Percussion Massage for Hikers
Percussion massage soothes muscles with rapid strokes to the tissue. Because of the intense speed, it only takes 10-60 seconds to get the benefits of a full sports massage.
Massagers like the ExoGun Dream Pro are new, so many hikers don’t know about them. But, studies have found that a percussion massage gun is the most effective way to reduce soreness and enhance range of motion in the legs.
After an intense uphill day, you can use give yourself a quick massage to your quads and lower back and be ready to go again after a good night’s sleep. The last thing you want is to feel sore when you have a full day’s hike ahead.
This is why pro runners, football players, and Olympic athletes use ExoGun Dream Pro to train. It really works.
Along with alleviating soreness, percussion massage can:
- Relieve tension and tightness
- Work out knots
- Reduce fatigue
- Improve blood flow
- Enhance range of motion
- Boost energy and performance
Percussion massage is a game-changer for hikers, and it’s going to make a huge difference on the trail in 2021. It could be the difference between finishing your route and calling it quits early.
Choose Easier Routes
You can’t wait to get back outdoors, so it’s time to go big or go home, right?
Not so fast.
Choosing the toughest route to christen the season is not a good idea in 2021. In the last tip, we mentioned that you might not be as limber as you think you are.
But that’s not the only reason.
State rescue crews are standing by to help stranded hikers. But after a rescue, crews in many parts of the country will be required to quarantine for 14 days. That means, if they help you, they won’t be able to help anyone else for 2 weeks.
This will be made worse by the fact that hiking injuries and lost hikers are surging during the pandemic due to inexperienced and/or out-of-shape hikers venturing out in large numbers.
Choose a chill hiking route to keep yourself and others safer this year.
Pack Pandemic Supplies
You may be vaccinated. Or, you may feel safe in the wide-open space of the great outdoors. But this doesn’t mean you’ll be exempt from following local rules and regulations.
Lodges, huts, restaurants, and public facilities along your route may have COVID-19 regulations in place, such as requiring masks and social distancing. There may also be park-wide or state-wide regulations you have to follow.
You don’t want to find yourself without the proper supplies when there’s no place to shop for miles. You could potentially get turned away from a campsite or denied entry to a park without them.
Here’s what you need to bring:
- Masks: The #1 essential. Make sure to bring plenty of them, because you’ll wear them out quickly if you get sweaty on the trail. Cloth masks are better for the environment but don’t reuse them without washing.
- Hand Sanitizer: This should be a given for hikers even during non-pandemic times. Just make sure your hand sanitizer is 70% alcohol or above to satisfy regulations.
- Bathroom supplies: Bathrooms are COVID hot spots, so many park restrooms might be closed or restricted. Even if they aren’t, you should avoid using them if you haven’t been vaccinated. Bring what you need to relieve yourself and clean up in the wild.
Be Respectful of Others’ Precautions
Now that things are opening up again, it’s easy to forget that COVID is still spreading. Some people are more at risk of the virus than others, so never assume that people you meet on the trail feel the same way that you do.
Keep a safe distance between others hikers and never attempt to shake someone’s hand or approach them without asking first. Be ready for others to keep their distance from you as well.
It’s never polite to argue with others about the precautions they take, even if they seem extreme. Everyone has the right to feel safe.
Leave No Trace
This is the golden rule for hikers. And in 2021, it’s more important than ever. Many novice hikers will be heading onto the trails this summer, as outdoor activities are considered the safest this year. That means there’s more potential for littering, destruction of property, and destruction of natural habitats.
If you’re an experienced hiker, consider bringing some extra trash bags to pick up litter along the way. You can also bring extra dog poop bags and toilet receptacles for those who might not have them.
Remember to teach and not scold if you see someone breaking the rules. They might not understand how important it is to leave no trace.
If you’re a new hiker, remember to leave NOTHING behind at your campsite or along the trail. This includes fruit and vegetable waste (peels, seeds, cores), toilet paper, dog and human waste, cigarette butts, and any other trash—even if it’s biodegradable.
Leave it better than you found it!
Safety on the Trail is Ever-changing
Just like the natural world itself, staying safe on the trail is always changing. New threats, natural man-made, come into play every year. But luckily, staying informed about the latest safety info can ensure a relaxing excursion and preserve our parks and trails for generations to come.
In 2021, take a measured approach to getting back on the trail. Don’t overdo it, and don’t overestimate your abilities. Be prepared for a lot of newcomers and make sure to respect their needs in terms of COVID-19. If you see someone doing something potentially damaging or dangerous, try to teach instead of getting angry.
Before and after your hike, remember to give your muscles a bit of TLC by stretching and using a percussion massage gun like the ExoGun Dream Pro. The portable design is perfect for hikers returning to the trail, and it’s on sale now for 70% off at www.exogun.com