Day hikes are awash with pretty scenery, but night hikes have a special charm all their own. If you find yourself on the trail after sundown, here are some important tips to help you stay safe and get the most out of your night hike.
Pack a Light
It’s a good idea to plan your night hike around days when the moon will be at its brightest. However, if your path takes you through dense forests, or if clouds cover the moon, you won’t be able to rely on natural light. Bringing along a flashlight or headlamp will ensure that you have lighting for whatever situation you might encounter on the trail. Some of the brightest flashlights are equipped with dual spotlight and floodlight options, giving you the ability to choose between illuminating the path in front of you or lighting up your surroundings. Choosing the brightest flashlight will also help you be seen from a distance should you need to signal for help. A flashlight or headlamp equipped with a red light function is also a great addition to every night hiker’s gear. These red lights allow you to preserve your night vision should you need to look at a map or dig through your backpack.
Go With a Hiking Partner
While solo hikes can be a great way to center yourself and connect with nature, it’s best to leave these sorts of excursions for day hikes. Hiking alone has risks, and at night this is especially true. By taking along a friend who can lend their eyes and ears to your surroundings, you reduce the odds of straying off the path. A hiking partner or group is also a great way to keep your mind engaged and your imagination at bay. We’ve all experienced the discomfort that comes with being alone in the dark. Now imagine wrestling with that feeling alone in the wilderness. You might be tempted to head back to the trailhead before you ever reach your destination! Bring along a friend or two and enjoy the entirety of your planned hike. Even if you’re going with a group, it’s always a best practice to let someone know where you’re headed and when you plan to be back.
For some people, hiking at night is the best way to avoid extremely hot temperatures. No matter how hot the day might be, when the sun sets the temperature can drop drastically. Pack layers to account for the chill and ensure you’re comfortable for the entirety of your hike. In case you’re out longer than you plan to be, layers can help prevent hypothermia, biting bugs, and sharp shrubs. Remember, if you get too hot, you can always take a layer off. If you’re worried about space, packable clothing such as down vests and coats are a great way to maximize warmth without sacrificing valuable bag space.
Hiking at night is a wonderfully unique outdoor experience. Follow these tips and hit the trail safely!