TikTok's Top Tips For Staying Safe While Hiking Alone

Hiking isn't just a practical way to explore — it offers a range of health benefits too. According to Cleveland Clinic, hitting the trails can strengthen the heart, lower blood pressure, improve your balance, and combat anxiety and depression. Still, no matter how healthy and relaxing a long hike may be, venturing out alone can be dangerous. Solo hikers are at risk of becoming lost, getting injured, or running into safety threats (from bears to hostile humans), all without a trusted partner or group there to help.

Still, these potential dangers don't stop the hikers of HikeTok from exploring forests and national parks alone, and they're sharing their top safety tips in their TikToks. One of the most common pieces of advice for solo hikers is to not go it completely alone. Content creator Abby Joselyn stays safe by sharing her trail itinerary with a loved one and using a GPS device to track and share her location live. She also packs a Birdie alarm, a tool that user wanderlustinohio also recommends. In a video, the Ohio hiker explains that the alarm allows you to ping a contact with your location and request emergency help.

Staying connected allows hikers to blaze the trails alone with confidence. However, if you love the sense of adventure and independence that comes with a truly solo hike, there are a few other strategies to keep in mind.

Be prepared for wilderness disasters

A sudden storm, a wrong turn on a trail, an ankle sprain — accidents and unfortunate surprises are a very real part of hiking, and while you can't predict every possible mishap, you can at least prepare yourself with a few basic safety tips. First, a TikToker who goes by Black Hiking Queen suggests checking trail conditions and local weather forecasts thoroughly before heading out. If, for instance, your planned trail is flooded, choose an alternate path or postpone your hike until another day.

Black Hiking Queen also says to always pack the essentials, including food and water (bring enough for at least two days, in case you get stranded) and a hiking first aid kit. Kits can be assembled from scratch, as creator Anna Explores did. Be sure to pack gauze, alcohol pads, wrap, antibiotic ointments, pain relievers, and treatments for any insects or plants (such as poison ivy) that are pervasive in your area.

Finally, remember that many trails are shared with wildlife, including bears and other predators. A TikToker and hiking guide with the handle @groundupadventures suggests making noise while walking to deter nearby animals.

Know how to defend yourself

If you scroll through TikTok's solo hiking content, you'll likely notice that the majority of creators are women offering advice on how to protect yourself against other hikers. Regardless of your gender, being alone on the trails could make you a target for unsavory characters who might have sinister motives. Therefore, it's crucial to remain vigilant and know how to defend yourself if needed.

In her video, Abby Joselyn notes that she never wears headphones while hiking so she can remain fully aware of her surroundings. Eliminating music and other distractions could help you act quickly if you sense something unusual in your environment.

Another creator who goes by @madeleinewilsonphoto shares the self-defense gear she keeps on hand in case she runs into a potential threat. Her items include a small canister of pepper gel, a taser (which she notes may not be legal to carry in all places), a pocket knife, and bear spray. While you may not need to pack every tool she does, having one or two items that you're comfortable using in an emergency could make all the difference.