Hiking and Biking
Credit: Image via crative commons at Flickr, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/xerostomia/

Hiking is a favourite pastime of many people, but if you are interested in undertaking this hobby it is vital that you do so safely. Every year many people are injured during hiking trips, with injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to more severe ones such as broken bones. Most people already know that hiking comes with great physical demands like walking for hours with a backpack of heavy supplies, accidents can still happen, which is why hikers should always be prepared.

 Here are some top tips on how to hike safely:

1)      Plan in advance

Being prepared for a hike is of the utmost importance. When planning a hiking trip, you can't get too detailed. It's fine to calculate right down to the weight of your bandanna or the exact minute you need to stop for lunch. A plan should consist of what time you are going to start on your bicycle journey, what time you are going to arrive at a certain place, what time you plan on starting back and what time you plan on arriving. With this information you will be able to pull off your hike without a hitch.

2)      Never hike alone

When hiking you should always find at least one other person to go with you, as it can be safer this was. As hiking.about.com explains, - 'If you or someone else in your party gets hurt -- let's say you sprain an ankle or take a fall -- you're much better off with other people nearby, and their pooled resources, than if you were trying to limp back solo'. With family tents, you can quite easily go as a whole family, or simply invest in a group tent to ensure that everyone has room to sleep comfortably. However, many people choose to hike alone every year, and if you decide that you would like to do this it is vital that you understand the risks, and you should always inform people of your intentions should anything go wrong and the alarm needs to be sounded.

3)      Check the terrain

Every year, many people go on hikes without checking on the unique terrain of their hike route. This can lead to many accidents as you will be pushing yourself beyond your limits. The ABC of Hiking suggests that hikers 'analyze any Hiking Maps or trail guides that you can get your hands on. Use detailed maps and go over the intended route in your head', this will give a general idea of the terrain. Particularly when cycling, planning a route is a must, as a wrong turn could lead to a serious accident. The website also advises hikers to be aware of the changing terrain conditions throughout the year - many hiking trails become very dangerous in the winter due to snow and ice and so should either be avoided altogether or only attempted by very experienced hikers.

4)      Take the right food and equipment with you

Hiking is all about energy, which of course means you’ll need a good energy source. There are many different kinds of foods that you can consume to keep your energy up when hiking. Walkingandhiking.co.uk gives some good advice on hiking foods, explaining that 'chocolate can provide a good burst of energy ... so it’s worth having a small bar or two at the bottom of your backpack. Sunflower seeds are high in calories, and you can munch them as you walk ... Bananas are high in potassium, too, which is good for staving off cramps'. When it comes to longer hikes, Sue Freeman comes up with a variety of ideas. As she explains, 'The secret to trail food is to find the lightest weight food that packs the greatest energy boost and is easy to prepare', which can ensure you can complete your hike without running out of energy.

Ensure that you have the right gear with you, you should have appropriate cycling clothing for the weather you are going out in, and make sure that you are properly equipped with a decent tent and sleeping bag if there is any chance at all that you might be caught out overnight, a lightweight set of camping equipment can be surprisingly light, and a literal lifesaver. If you are going on a cycling holiday where you are also camping on the side, it is important that the bikes are in top shape, fitted with the best bike lights and full pumped up tyres. If you are going any distance away from well populated areas make sure that you have a map and compass, and that you know how to use them properly.

So, if you would like to hike and bike safely you should always prepare for all conditions, and ensure you take the right equipment with you.