Going on a hike can be one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors. There’s nothing better than feeling the cool air and the sun on your face as you meander under branches, over brooks and around wildlife. Perhaps just as fun, but not as often taken advantage of, is the night hike.
Night hikes allow you to observe a plethora of wildlife that you may never encounter during the day as well as see the dazzling array of stars and constellations you’d certainly strain to see on a night in town. Of course, just as day hikes have their own set of rules and cautions, so to does night hiking. In fact, there are probably double the amount caveats you’d want to heed when you’re hiking under the moon!
In this article, we’re going to go over a few common sense safety precautions for nocturnal sojourns. This list will be of great import to those of you who might go on an excursion with younger hikers or more experienced hikers who’ve just yet to take a hike at night!
Bring a Flashlight (or Several of Them)
Of course you were going to bring a flashlight, right? Hey, it happens, in the rush to pack we forget to bring the torch.
More often the mistake is not bringing enough. We suggest that every hiker have their own flashlight so, in the event of an unintended separation, no one is left in the dark.
For longer night hikes, we suggest using headlamps in lieu of traditional handheld flashlights. This leaves your hands free in case there’s an unplanned obstacle you need to climb over or, in worst-case scenario, you need to escape a potentially dangerous circumstance quickly.
If it’s a particularly dark night, probably close to a new moon, you may want to grab a brighter torch like our Performance Night Vision Spotlight. When it’s past midnight and you’re expertly navigating your way back to camp, you’ll be glad you did!
Bring a Friend (or Several of Them)
We fully support solo hiking (as long as you’re experienced enough) but, honestly, hiking is always better with some buddies. But not only is it more enjoyable, it’s also a heck of a lot safer, especially when you’re considering night hiking.
There’s always a chance of encountering danger while on a hike so remember that safety is in numbers!
Don’t Skimp On the Water (or Snacks!)
For some reason, people think that just because they’re not hiking during the day, when the sun is shining and they’re sweating, they’re not going to get thirsty. Actually, research suggests, that as it gets closer to our bedtime, we become thirstier so our bodies can store up on fluids for sleep. Since going on a night hike means that you’re probably up past your bedtime, you’re going to be thirsty! Couple that with the fact that you’re exerting yourself physically and you’ve got a recipe for potential dehydration. So bring plenty of water!
Likewise, even if you’ve already had dinner, bring a small snack—some nuts, trail mix or a meal bar. Even if you don’t end up eating it, if somebody needs the energy, they’ll be glad you had it.
Walk Slowly and Bring a Big Stick
Never forget that there is a virtue in going slowly. Even when you’re journeying in the light, surprises can occur (and not the good kind with cake and ice cream) and at night, these surprises are everywhere. The faster you’re going when you hit that snag, the harder you’re going to hit the ground. Also consider cliffs both big and small.
It’s also never a bad idea to carry a walking stick, which can double as self-defense should you need it. Alternatively, we at Q-Beam offer a Tactical Series of flashlights. The Tactical Series flashlight are constructed of durable aluminum, have been drop tested at 30 feet and can be set to strobe in case you need to ward off any unfriendly animals.
If you or anyone in your group is feeling at all hesitant about their night hike, then consider rethinking the trip. Night hiking should only be for experienced outdoorsmen and not those who feel trepidation. The worst thing you want in a bad situation is someone panicking!
Just remember, when you’re hiking, you’re in nature’s domain and anything goes. So just be careful and bring lots of light if you’re hiking at night!