Tips For Hiking In The Dark
If you’re a regular rambler or hiker and are looking for an exciting challenge, then you might find that hiking at night or in the dark is something you want to try your hand at. If you feel comfortable with regular hiking and have all the appropriate equipment, such as a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, waterproof jacket, robust rucksack, some spare shoelaces, and a great sense of direction, then there’s nothing stopping you from trying a great new experience. Below, we’ve outlined some of the advantages of hiking at night, as well as some top tips and tricks for making sure it’s a trip to remember.
Advantages Of Hiking At Night
So, you’ve decided you want to try something new and hike at night. But what are the advantages of doing so and what can you hope to gain?
- Different experiences: your hearing and smelling senses will be heightened, and you’ll experience nature and the outdoors in a completely different way. The scenery will be silhouetted against the moonlight and you’ll see stars instead of clouds when you look up.
- More comfortable: at night time or early morning, the heat is a lot less than those midday hiking trips, which can be sweating and uncomfortable. Hiking at night allows you to cover as much distance, if not more because you’re cooler and don’t need as many breaks.
- Grow in confidence: hiking in the darkness can be daunting, but once you’d completed your first-night hike, you’ll feel confident and ready to take on the next. This can provide you with transferrable skills, that give you the self-assurance you need to ask for that pay rise at work, start up a new sport, or just believe in yourself.
- It’s calming: hiking at night allows you to simply be at one with nature, giving you new experiences, that take your mind away from every day worries. This allows you to shut-off and relax, really immersing yourself into nature. Perfect for our hectic lives.
7 Top Hiking In The Dark Tips
Now you’ve convinced yourself to go, it’s time to ensure you have everything you need to equip you for the track ahead. Follow our 7 top hiking in the dark tips to get you there.
1. Dress Appropriately
For any normal hiking trip, it’s always sensible to pack extra layers because you never know how the weather might change or if you encounter any problems that may mean you’re stranded. However, when hiking at night, it’s essential that you pack extra layers and additional clothing, such as:
- Hats and gloves
- Long sleeve tops and jumpers, preferably that allow your body to breathe
- Sensible pair of jeans and waterproof trousers
- Thermals, such as leggings and an under-shirt – temperatures can drop dramatically at night
- Spare socks, in case your current pair become wet – there’s nothing worse than soggy socks!
2. Use A Headlamp Or Flashlight
Hiking in the complete pitch black is not advised, regardless of how well you know the trail. Ensure that you pack spare batteries or portable chargers for these pieces of equipment as even if you’ve tested before you head out on your journey, the risk is always there that they could fail on you.
3. Have An Aim In Mind
Either hike in the dark to see the sunset or hike early morning to see the sunrise. Make sure you have a route mapped out so you know where you’ll end up. We wouldn’t advise wandering aimlessly into the night, as this can be dangerous and also means you might miss out on some great views and scenery as the sun begins to rise or set. Taking a high-quality camera, with night vision capabilities is also a great idea, as you might want to document your hike and pictures can be difficult to capture in low lighting. Keep in mind the weather when hiking at night too, so keep an eye out on the weather forecast. If you’re hoping to chase a storm or you’re after clear skies, it’s important to plan your hike properly, so you can capture these moments without being disappointed.
4. Don’t Go On Your Own
You might be tempted to go on a solo hike in the dark, especially if you’re a competent walker. However, this is not advised as the hiking conditions change dramatically when walking at night and if you encounter any problems, it’s more difficult to find your way back. Make someone aware of your trip before you set off so that they can contact the authorities if any issues do occur. We recommend hiking as a group – it means you can share the weight of the equipment between you and have more fun.
5. Pack The Right Equipment
Before you can even set out on your hike, make sure you have the right equipment. You’ll need:
- Hiking shoes, with spare shoelaces
- Waterproof jacket
- Robust rucksack
- A knife
- GPS system or, at the very least, a compass – it may be worthwhile packing a compass anyway, in case your GPS system fails
- Insect repellent, especially during the summer
- First aid kit, with the essentials, such as bandages and plasters
- Torch or headlamp, or both
- Whistle, if you’re hiking in a large group and you become separated
6. Bring More Layers Than You Think You’ll Need
Whether it’s the height of summer of the middle of winter, always pack more layers than you think you’ll need. An extra pair of thermals or socks isn’t going to weigh you down and could be vital in an emergency situation – or if it just gets a tad too cold for you.
7. Remember You Might Encounter Wildlife
Be extra vigilant on night walks, as you’re more likely to encounter wildlife that you might not tend to come across in the daytime. You might also spook some wildlife if you’re loud and disruptive, so always be considerate of your surroundings.