“Is it safe to hike alone as a woman?” is one of the most commonly asked questions I get when I share my solo hiking adventures.
While of course, there are dangers of hiking alone, if you have done your research and taken proper safety precautions, there is no reason that solo hiking isn’t safe for women.
I did several things to start hiking alone as a woman, and I like to share my knowledge because hiking alone is very empowering and rewarding!
In this blog post, I am sharing solo hiking tips for women and speak on my own experience as a solo female hiker.
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Table of Contents
Benefits Of Solo Hiking
Hiking has a ton of physical and mental benefits but I want to specifically talk about the benefits of hiking alone.
First off, solo hiking means freedom! It allows you to go whenever and wherever you want, without waiting for friends or partners to be available. It allows you to disconnect from technology and distractions, giving you an increased sense of peace in nature.
Solo hiking also allows you to set your own pace and itinerary. You can hike as slow or as fast as you want, and there will be no catching up after stopping to take the hundredth photo!
One of the most rewarding benefits of solo hiking is the sense of personal accomplishment. Hiking alone increases self-reliance and self-sufficiency, in turn, increases my self-esteem. I consider solo hiking an essential to my self-care.
First Time Solo Hiking As A Woman
Before I share my tips, I want to remind you that I’m writing this from my own personal experience of hiking alone. The advice provided below is a combination of tips that I’ve gathered from other solo hikers as well as through extensive online research.
I do not recommend beginner hikers go alone.
It’s important to know basic hiking skills and have some experience before you go alone. Learning the basics of first aid, navigation, edible plants, how to read trails, etc., could save your life.
If you don’t already know these skills or have a friend who can teach you, I recommend taking a class. Google outdoor skills classes in your area or check your local REI – they always offer classes!
My Experience Hiking Alone As A Woman
I started hiking alone in 2020 (sorry to remind you of that dumpster fire of a year haha).
I lived in Phoenix with my husband, Dominick, and our cat, Kelso. About 6-months into quarantine in our 1,200 sqft apartment, my anxiety was at an all-time high, and my mental health was at an all-time low.
I was desperate for space but had nowhere safe to go… then I remembered the mountain preserve 10 minutes away from my house. I had hiked a few trails in the preserve with friends and my husband, but never alone.
For background, I grew up camping with my family and hiked a lot in college, but I had never done any outdoor activity alone. I knew I could physically handle the hike and was comfortable spending time in the desert, but I had some safety concerns about hiking alone.
My fears included dangerous wildlife, getting hurt or lost, and being harassed or attacked while alone. To be honest, I still have those fears, but it’s a healthy dose of fear.
I’ve been hiking alone for over 3 years, and *knock on wood*, none of my fears have come true. When it comes to doing anything that gives me anxiety, I live by the following motto:
Prepare for what you are scared of.
How To Start Hiking Alone
There are a lot of societal stereotypes and gender biases that tell us solo hiking as a woman is not safe. Hiking alone for anyone comes with risks. However, it is not inherently unsafe, and many women have fun and are safe while hiking alone!
If you need a little encouragement, here are some tips for building the courage to start hiking alone:
- Start small. Start your solo hiking journey by taking short, easy hikes in familiar areas. This will help you build confidence in your abilities and increase your familiarity with hiking alone.
- Be open to learning from failure. Failure is a natural part of life and an opportunity to learn and grow. I’m constantly learning from my mistakes and making notes for future adventures.
- Follow positive influences. It’s always important to surround yourself with people who encourage you! I love to follow @adventuresofnik for her solo adventures, and her organization @girlsfightback for their self-defense tips.
- Always trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any point during your hike, trust your instincts and turn back. There is no shame in going home – trust me, I’ve done it before.
Additionally, I’d like to preface that I am sharing my experience from the perspective of a white woman. I have less to worry about than a woman of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or someone living in a dangerous state/country.
I believe everyone has the right to enjoy the outdoors, but I am not naive enough to think it’s that simple. Please look into diversity in the outdoors and strive to make everyone feel safe and welcome while enjoying nature.
Safety Tips For Hiking Alone
There are a couple of risks to hiking alone and I believe it’s important to know all of them so you can be prepared. Nothing will ever be 100% safe but going into a situation where you feel confident and prepared can go a long way in keeping you safe.
I’d like to note that the same precautions and safety measures should be taken by anyone hiking alone, regardless of their gender.
- Plan ahead. Make sure you are properly prepared for your hike by researching the trail, checking the weather, and bringing the necessary hiking gear.
- Stay connected. Carry a fully-charged cell phone or other means of communication in case of emergency. Be sure to let someone you trust know your hiking plans and expected return time.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of your surroundings and aware of potential dangers, such as bad trail conditions, wildlife, or fellow hikers.
- Carry personal protection. Consider carrying mace or bear spray. I personally like to carry a knife for multi-purpose use and as a weapon.
- Take a wilderness first aid course. Getting hurt is always a possibility – that’s why I always carry a first aid kit and I hike with caution (I’m very scared of twisting an ankle haha). Remember that if you are hiking alone, you are completely relying on yourself. I recommend checking out some YouTube videos on wilderness first aid before your next hike.
- Know your limits. To avoid risking your life or others with any potential rescue operation, know your limits and physical abilities when it comes to hiking. If you are new to hiking, choose trails that are easy and close to civilization if you need any help.
- Be cautious of wildlife. Know how to react if you encounter wildlife, and don’t approach them too closely. Check out this awesome blog that details safety tips when it comes to bears, moose, cougars and rattlesnakes.
Essential Gear For Hiking Alone
Having the right hiking gear is key to a successful solo hike. You can read my full list of recommended hiking gear here. Below are a few must-haves for solo hiking trips.
First Aid Kit
I bring a simple, small first-aid kit on every hike and it’s come in handy multiple times!
Some hiking first-aid essentials are band-aids, moleskin for blisters, adhesive tape, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. I have a kit very similar to the HART Outdoor Day Hike First-Aid Kit, and have added tweezers, benadryl, and a hairtie.
If you’re hiking alone, it’s good to consider investing in an emergency device. If you are hiking somewhere without phone service, it could help you get help if needed.
Devices like this are pretty pricey and I personally haven’t purchased one yet. If you’re ready to make the investment for your peace of mind and safety, I’ve heard great things about the Garmin inReach Mini 2.
Safety Items / Weapons
I personally recommend carrying extra safety items when hiking alone.
If I’m using a day pack that doesn’t have an integrated safety whistle, I carry my Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle or Birdie Alarm. I’m usually hiking with my favorite day pack, the Gregory Juno 30, which has an integrated safety whistle.
I also feel comfortable carrying mace, bear spray and a knife. Here are links to the safety products I have:
A really important non-physical form of protection is your voice. Learn how to use your voice loud and strong. Learn to say “no” and don’t be afraid to lie to anyone asking if you are alone.
Finally, a great form of protection is a dog! I don’t have a dog but would love one to help me feel more protected out on the trail.
Final Thoughts On How To Start Hiking Alone As A Woman
I genuinely love and look forward to the times I get to hike alone, and I hope that by sharing my safety tips and experience you’ll be inspired to try a solo hike someday!
If you’ve hiked alone before and are looking to brush up on some safety tips, I’m happy to have you! Please leave your experience/any tips that you may have in the comments below.