12 tips for hiking alone when you’re a woman

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March 1, 2021
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12 tips for hiking alone when you’re a woman

Since I was little, I have been used to hiking. I have learned a lot from my different experiences in nature, and today I like to be alone to discover the beauty of wilderness. 

As a professional hiking guide, I always encourage my clients to not wait for the perfect “hiking buddy” and to go hiking on their own if/when they want to.

Many of the clients of my outdoor adventures company for women, Escape, have asked me questions about hiking solo as a woman.

I decided to give you my 12 tips to make your first experience go well. I hope that you will want to put your hiking boots on right away after this!

1. Find the right hike

When you start hiking, you don’t know your level yet. Even if you don’t exercise regularly, you may have good endurance, which will make you a good walker. The ideal is to start with an average level hike to test yourself. If, however, you are really a beginner, and not very athletic, choose an easy hike (2 hours maximum). To reassure yourself, you can also choose an area that you already know a little.

2. Tell someone where you are going to hike

This advice applies to anyone who ventures into nature on their own. It is important that someone knows where you are heading and what time you started your hike. This is a security in case you have an accident. Imagine twisting your ankle and there is no network to call for help where you are? Tell them at what time you should finish your hike and text (or call) them when you are done. If they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they can call for help and go looking for you.

3. Take enough water with you

Never leave without a bottle of water even if you are only doing a “short hike”. In nature, you never know what the future holds, water is what allows you to survive. Even if you are not used to drinking a lot, you will be exerting physical effort and therefore you will be sweating. Your body will need to compensate for this natural water consumption with an outside intake. I recommend 1L per person, in a sturdy bottle, such as Nalgene. Remember that the weather can change quickly and become suffocating, water will be your first ally.

4. Pack a snack for the little hunger pangs.

Like water, always have a small cereal bar or dried fruit in your bag. Especially if you are new to hiking, you do not yet know your limits and if you have a bit of slack, the snack will give you some pep.

5. Put on real hiking boots.

Forget the sneakers. To embark on a real hike, you need shoes that grip the different terrains. Personally, I recommend the Merrell brand, there are models suitable for all foot morphologies, because we all have different feet. Choose breathable shoes with a waterproof material such as Gore Tex. Wear smart wool socks in winter.

6. Leave with your phone battery charged.

Your phone can be used for many things, even if you are primarily outdoors enjoying nature. First, you can contact the emergency services if anything happens to you. It will also allow you to find your way if you are lost, for this you will need to have a hiking application, we will talk about it in the next point. The phone can also be a good way to bring back memories of your hike by using a camera.

7. Download a GPS application for your hike

It is important to have an offline map downloaded, so that you can continue to follow the correct path even without a network. AllTrails is a very great hiking trails’ maps app with downloading options. It is important that you have identified the route you need to follow, as well as the markings, before setting off. I also recommend to buy a topographic Map Guide, paper version because your phone can potentially die. National Geographic’s trail illustrated maps are my favorite.

8. Prepare to live the unknown

When you hike alone you find yourself with yourself, there is no way to avoid your thoughts. What I love about solo hiking is that you rediscover yourself, but also really become aware of what is around you. We are more sensitive to nature and all its noises. Every time I go out, I meet new people, even though I’m someone who has easy contact, I would say that in nature people are much more open to little improvised discussions. A lot of times when I interact with another hiker, I learn things on the trail, such as that there is a wonderful viewpoint a little further down. So be open to the unknown!

9. Have confidence in yourself and in what you can accomplish

Being a woman does not make you less capable, I would even say on the contrary. You are as resourceful as anyone else, you just need to have confidence in yourself. Once you have climbed your first summit, you will be proud of it and you can set yourself up for other challenges that will increase your self-confidence. The will is the only engine of success to progress. You need to condition yourself before you go into nature, tell yourself that it’s going to be okay, and that you absolutely want to achieve your goal. Once you are in front of the magnificent panorama, you will tell yourself that you have deserved it!

10. Be a sponge for advice

When you try anything new, all the advice of wise and experienced people is good to take. There are many Facebook groups with hiking enthusiast ladies who will be able to help you preparing your solo hike.

11. Get inspired by other adventurous women

For my part, I really like reading the stories of Sarah Marquis, she is a woman who inspires me a lot. She began to travel at a young age to walk great distances in hostile places. I highly recommend her inspiring book Wild by Nature.

On Instagram, there are also a lot of women sharing their hike across the world. My favorite are Ashley Manning, outdoor guide and hiker (@ashleysadventure) and Holly Johnson, hiker and backpacker (@missholldoll). And of course, for inspiring pictures of challenges in the wilderness, follow The Warrior Program (@warriormeprogram)!

12. Ladies, enjoy this moment just for you

This is not really a tip, more a mantra. In our world today, we are surrounded by people all the time. However, it’s important to take some time for yourself, I promise you won’t be bored!

If this article inspired you, feel free to share it with your friends, wives, moms… Happy trails!

About the author, Manon Marchand-Aylsworth: Manon is a professional life, wellness and nutrition coach and a NY State licensed wilderness guide. She is the Founder and CEO of Bonjour Delight LLC, the founder of Escape Hiking and The Warrior Program. She believes that wilderness and physical challenges are the best tools to deeply empower individuals and change someone’s mindset and life.

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