Hiking is a great way of boosting your physical, mental and emotional health, especially if you plan to escape cabin fever caused by months of coronavirus-induced lockdowns. But the pandemic poses one question: Is it safe to do? As a form of recreation, it is one of the safer choices — one that involves fewer people gathering around.
However, since hiking is usually done on nature parks and trails that are now visited by other hikers, that also means the threat of contracting COVID-19 is relatively high. With that, here are six safety tips you need to know to protect yourself from COVID-19 while taking a hike:
1. Plan ahead
Plan your trips ahead of time. Go for lesser-traveled trails and set some alternatives if your first choice is crowded. You need to bring hand sanitizers and a face mask/covering with you. Wear the latter while passing by or if near hikers; keeping your mouth and nose covered up keeps others protected from any particle you might be breathing out and vice versa.
2. Stay local
Rather than embark on long-distance treks and risk spreading the virus to other areas, you may want to take shorter, safer hikes close to home. Despite the shorter travel distance, you still need to be as responsible with your preparations. The Washington Trails Association suggested keeping your gas tanks full and stocking up on food when traveling to trails in rural areas to avoid depleting resources in smaller communities.
3. Practice social distancing
Along with following local government guidelines and/or CDC recommendations, social distancing protects not only you, but also other hikers, not to mention those at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and healthcare and essential services workers. The more social distancing is practiced, the sooner the “curve” gets flattened, hopefully leading to a resumption of normal everyday life.
When you do have to venture outside, do it alone or with members of your household. Keep a safe distance (6 feet) away from others, and wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds when you get home or before eating anything.
4. Mind what you touch
Being mindful of what you touch does not just apply indoors. It’s easy to forget that railings, trees and branches on popular hiking trails can also be virus carriers. So when hiking outdoors, be careful where you touch your hands. A travel-sized hand sanitizer is handy just in case there are no handwashing facilities nearby.
5. Avoid taking unnecessary risks
Park officials and medical experts advise avoiding areas that both are hazardous and potentially increase risk of injuries. The presence of emergency responders is limited at this time, with most of them dealing with those that have the virus. Because of this, the Washington Trails Association advises avoiding unnecessary, injury- or fall-causing risks that can divert resources and personnel from areas where they are needed right now.
6. Bring all the necessary gear and equipment
Aside from a face mask/covering and a hand sanitizer, you will need some of the best hiking gear and equipment that will keep you safe on your journey to the great outdoors. The gear that you can bring with you on your trip may include the following:
If you find storing or maintaining hiking gear after use to be such a drag or are below budget at the moment, you can opt to rent them instead via Arrive Outdoors. Featured in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Forbes and other media and publications, this outdoor travel company specializes in renting premium hiking gear and equipment — individually or in sets — anywhere within the mainland U.S.; these come from big brands such as Adidas, Nikon, The North Face and Anker among others. It also partners with state parks to make it easy for everyone to get the gear they need when visiting.
Through Arrive Outdoors, you get hiking gear and equipment delivered when needed and send it back when you don’t — without the need to pay a monthly premium. Not only that, but you also save $1,032 compared to buying them through an online retailer. In addition, it can even help you find the right gear, as well as select your desired hiking destination/s and answer any questions that you may have. So give it a try, and enjoy your hiking outdoor experience the best way possible.