Curious about which personal protection items to pack?
Most hikers fear three things: bears, mountain lions, and other hikers. But other sources of danger can be just as deadly. Did you know cows kill 10x as many people as bears each year? Bees, wasps, and hornets kill 58x as many.
So what should you be prepared for?
Well, it depends on your geography. We can't know exactly which critters you'll run across. Be sure to dive deeper than your initial cursory research when you head out for your next hike.
You'll want to bring some gear specifically for your area. We've also created a list of 8 universal hiking protection items useful for every hike. Read the list below to discover more.
These are for those of you in less imminent danger. Sometimes personal protection extends beyond aggressive encounters. Sometimes you need to protect yourself from yourself.
Even the most experienced hikers can get lost under the right circumstances. These two satellite communicators give you the exact latitude and longitude of your position. Paired with an excellent topographical map, you can find your way out of any spot even if you're navigationally challenged.
The SPOT satellite GPS lets you track your GPS progress, ask for help, and send an S.O.S. signal. They even give you the power to create custom messages from your SPOT account online. You can post, from the trail, custom messages to 10 of your favorite folks.
The DeLorme inReach Explorer global satellite communicator is a little more advanced. You can do all of the above as well as send and receive texts on the trail. It's a bit pricier but well worth it in our opinion.
The most common danger is the nocturnal predator. Fortunately, the predators are concerned only with food, and humans are rarely on the menu. They want what's in your backpack.
The best method for detouring nighttime visitors involves light and loud sounds. All predators have a fear of fire. If you don't have a fire, a high-powered flashlight is the second-best thing. Fenix flashlights are our favorite, but any that spit out beams of 100 lumens or more is a safe bet.
The more lumens, the more significant the deterrent. Remember, you want to scare off the predator, not engage the predator. Shine the light in their eyes, and make as much sound as possible to ward them away.
A good whistle around your neck is the next best thing. Before you go buying a whistle and blowing continuously as you jaunt down the trail, you should know one thing. The sound of a whistle tells other hikers that you're in danger.
Don't use it unless you need to. Hikers have been known to go miles out of their way to check up on a whistle blow. If you use yours haphazardly, don't be surprised if some otherwise friendly hikers show up to give you an earful.
If you decide to carry a whistle, it'll play dual roles. It can scare off predators or signal for help. And for less than $10, that's one piece of equipment you can't beat.
As you know, loud sounds can scare off animals. That why hiking with a bell can be a grand strategy. It tells all the nearby wildlife just where you are so that they can stay away.
If you're going to carry a bell, be sure it's one that includes a magnet. You use the magnet like a little on/off switch to stop the ringing. Otherwise, it's sure to drive you and your companions bonkers.
If you're going to purchase an animal repellent, be sure to do your research. Pay close attention. Make sure you differentiate expert opinion from hearsay, so you buy a brand you can depend on. Don't get caught in a dire circumstance with unreliable gear.
Spend the extra money to buy quality gear that you'll have for years to come.
In rare circumstances, you need to be wary of human predators. Now we don't want to alarm you. The number of robberies that happen to hikers is rare, but there have been some.
If you're hiking solo, especially if you're a woman, be prepared. Carry equipment you can use to defend yourself. Make sure that equipment won't make matters worse should your attacker get hold of it.
Did you notice we didn't add guns or knives to this list? The reason is that they're likely to escalate the conflict. They're also outlawed in countless hiking areas.
Judges tend to forgive pepper spray, not Glocks. Some hikers and gun advocates will disagree. But we say leave your arsenal at home.
You're more likely to hurt yourself or your friends than dissuade an attacker.
If you're going to purchase a stun hiking stick, you've got to learn how to use it. They're a great non-lethal alternative to traditional guns. In other words, they're one item that won't escalate the confrontation.
Should your attacker get hold of it, it won't cause you permanent harm. Be sure you practice with it, so you're comfortable using the item during an emergency.
Batons have been used for thousands of years by martial artists. They're safe, lightweight, and easy to use. At least the collapsible versions are.
It's worth noting that you may need a concealed carry license. Laws vary by state, so research the area you'll be hiking before you purchase a baton.
After you bought them, it's time to use them. Or, more accurately, practice with them. It's not uncommon for assault victims to hurt themselves rather than their assailants.
That's why you practice. First, use the items against a dummy. Then get a friend to help you role play. Finally, pack all your personal protection items in your backpack, and try a few test runs.
You'll thank the lucky stars you did if you ever find yourself in a crisis.
If you found this article helpful, take five minutes to check out the rest of our safety articles.
So long and good luck!
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