During your hiking trips, you’ll be sooner or later caught by the dark. Should that scare or worry you? No, but you should pay extra attention to safety details. Hiking at night is an amazing experience and one of the most interesting adventures you’ll have, but night hiking requires a bit more preparation than the daytime one.
This article will lead you through the process of night hiking, so next time when you find yourself on the track during the night time, follow these tips and you’ll find hiking at night way easier and more fun than you’ve originally imagined.
First Of All – Why Should You Do It
Although they are not the majority, some hikers just love to hit the track while the sun is setting, and not without a few good reasons.
1. Change Of Scenery
The first one is simply a different perspective. When the sun sets and everything goes dark, the perspective is completely different than the one during the day. The dark adds up to the mystery, but it also allows the wild animals who usually hide during the day to come out. During the night the woods and nature go live, and you’ll hear many different sounds. Not to mention the fact that even the track you know well starts to look completely different, making you look at it with different eyes, this way forcing you to get to know it even better.
2. It Relieves The Stress
If you’re lucky and the sky is clear, walking under the stars and guided by the moonlight could easily serve as therapy and make you relax, so you’ll sleep like a baby once you get back to your tent. This is great especially for those who live in the city.
3. It Helps You Connect Better With Nature And Your Scents
The lack of light means your vision will be lowered, so you’ll have to use all of your senses for coordination, navigation… This also means you’ll learn how to listen and how to properly separate different sounds and locate them.
What Light To Use For Night Hiking
The darker the night, the stronger the light should be is one of the main misconceptions about night hiking. Many hikers believe that the brighter light will help them see better in the darkness. And yes, they are recommended when you’d want your light to be as strong as possible, like while you’re trail running or if you’re in an emergency, so you want to keep yourself as visible as possible.
But, for the regular hike, this could only cause problems. After some time, your eyes will get used to dark so you’ll see not as clear as during the day, but clear enough so you can walk using just the lights nature has provided – the moon. Letting your eyes adapt will open the whole horizon of landscapes, it will allow you to see things more clearly, and most important – you could watch wild animals without disturbing them with your flashlight. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it within a hand reach, but if there is not a reason to use it, don’t.
How To Adapt Your Eyes
The time needed for your eyes to adapt could vary from person to person, but it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes before your “night vision” kicks in. But there are also some of the things you could do to help them adjust sooner rather than later.
Avoid looking directly at the light source. Just one second of looking at the light source could force your eyes to lose night vision, so you’ll have to start all over again. That’s why it is recommended to look away if you run into hikers with their headlamps and flashlights on or ask them to turn them off until you pass by.
Use peripheral vision as much as possible. During the night, looking at objects using your peripheral vision has proven to be more efficient and clearer than direct staring into something.
How To Use A Headlamp or A Flashlight
Although you’d love to avoid using light sources while you’re hiking at night, sometimes it won’t be possible and you’ll need them to, let’s say, look at the map or find something in your backpack. Both of these two tasks are almost impossible with the lights off. But since you probably don’t want to affect your night vision, there are some tricks on how to use the lights if you have to, without ruining it.
Use The Red Light Setting
Many types of flashlights or headlamps have a red light option. This will affect your eyes less and help you preserve the night vision. Make sure you know how to activate the red light before you hit the road.
There can also be a multiple brightness setting, so you can change the strength of light to meet your needs, and save the battery along the way,
Make sure the headlamp fits you well, without bouncing on your head, or that the flashlight is easy enough for you to carry it without a problem.
Be Fair To Others
If you’re on the track and hear other hikers coming your way, turn your light off and help them keep their night vision unaffected. Be polite; respect them and their time on the trail. Also, no matter what circumstances, don’t turn your light to someone’s face. It is extremely rude, it is not funny, not to mention the fact that you could ruin someone’s night vision, while there is also a possibility you’ll ruin their sight and it will take some time for them to recover.
Night Hiking Tips
As we’ve already said, hiking at night is a lot different than hiking during the day, so it has its own tips and tricks.
Finding a good motive is not the most important one, but it is without a doubt the essential tip when it comes to night hiking. You’ll need some good and interesting goal, worth the effort so you don’t regret going out while everyone else is going to sleep.
We’ve already discussed night vision, and it is a lot easier to achieve it under the full moon. It means you won’t need as much flashlight as it would otherwise.
Don’t start your night hike solo. It is not so simple going through the trail amongst all those wildlife without the ability to see everything. No matter how strong you are mental, your mind could cause you serious problems because it will make you feel threatened with every sound, movement, or shadow. Make sure there are at least two people, but the best option is to go with a group of friends. Also, don’t take unknown roads and trails, stick to the familiar ones.
Check The End Location Before You Start
There are a few different things you could be after on your night hike. If you’re looking for a place to look at the stars, check for the open areas. If you’re interested in the nightlife and would like to see some animals, entering the forest should be a good choice because it will make the eyes adjustment easier than the other places. But, before you hit the trail, make sure your final destination is not closed.
Be Prepared For Animals
Most of the time, animals you’ll meet along the way are completely harmless, but make sure you’re well informed on possible dangerous species and know what to do if you run into one of those. While you hike, listen, and look carefully around you.
Also, don’t rush and don’t run. Take your time, because the lack of light means it will be way more challenging to move and one wrong step could cause you to hurt your ankle or fall. This way you’ll be able to look and see more stuff. Be careful and watch the trail marks, which is useful in case you get lost. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and your approximate schedule.
What To Bring
A survival kit and radio should be the first on your list. The night time means that the temperature will drop. While during the summertime it most often means it will be quite pleasant, spring and autumn could bring quite low temperatures, so it is advised to bring an extra layer or two, just in case the temperature falls more than anticipated.
In case something goes wrong, make sure you have a cell phone by your hand, but also don’t forget that some rural areas so great for hiking also could lack the signal. And getting night vision binoculars could also be a good investment.
Be Prepared For Anything
Although it probably won’t, it is a good idea to be prepared if something goes south. Be prepared to react. Have an extra power source for your light (batteries, etc.) within the hand reach, you never know if and when you’ll need it.
Globo Surf Overview
Night hikes are fun and they’ll allow you to see the world from a different perspective. But going to a night hike also means you should be extra careful and take the safety measurements seriously. This doesn’t mean you’re not brave, if anything, it proves that you’d love to share your adventure with someone and talk about it once you get back to your camp, or your home.