Holidays Public Health

Camping and Hiking Safety Tips

A family hiking together.

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

Activities like camping and hiking are great, time-tested ways to boost your mood, unplug from technology and improve your physical and mental health. And rustic adventures in the great outdoors are just plain fun to experience.

Still, there are some safety measures to keep in mind while planning and executing your excursion. Before you get out into the great wide open this summer, take a few minutes to read some quick camping and hiking safety tips.

Pack With Safety in Mind

One of the most important parts of planning a camping or hiking trip is to do your homework first. That means charting your trip in advance, taking factors like weather forecasts, terrain changes, fresh water access and wildlife into account.

Not only should you map out your trail and rest spots before your hike or camping trip, it’s important to create a contingency plan so you know what to do in the event of unforeseen circumstances, like a bad storm or medical emergency.

Outside of the typical clothes you’re likely to toss into your backpack or suitcase, here is a comprehensive list of essential safety items to include when you pack for your trip:

  • Compass/GPS
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra blankets and socks
  • Extra day’s worth of nonperishable foods, like beef jerky, dried nuts, energy bars and granola
  • First aid kit, with antiseptic, adhesive and bandages
  • Fully charged phone and portable charger; if you know there won’t be service, include a satellite phone or personal locator beacon
  • Hand soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
  • Headlamp, flashlight or lantern
  • Map
  • Medications you need
  • Plenty of ice in an insulated cooler for food and drinks
  • Plenty of water and water purification supplies
  • Rain jacket
  • Utensils for cooking and eating
  • Waterproof tent, sleeping bag, portable air mattress or mattress pad
  • Whistle, in case you need to call for help; the universal distress signal is three whistle blows
  • Wide-brimmed hat for sun protection
  • Waterproof bags and containers for food
  • Waterproof matches, lighters or fire starters

Also remember to bring plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, sunglasses and insect repellent.

Hiking and Camping Safety Tips

Safety is key to any outdoor activity, whether it’s a group hike or a family camping trip, and there are several safety tips to keep in mind while planning a hike or overnight campout.

First, remember food safety. Always wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently when preparing food. Also, make sure you cook meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly and keep anything perishable in a cooler.

Second, don’t forget to hydrate. Drinking plenty of water is critical when spending time outside during the warm-weather months, especially if you’re breaking a sweat.

Here are other safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid plants, insects or animals not familiar to you.
  • Learn any park rules and regulations — and then make sure you follow them (they’re there for a reason).
  • Never hike or camp alone.

Learn more tips for staying safe and healthy while camping.

Bear Safety While Camping

If you’re going to be camping or hiking in an area frequented by bears, you should plan to take some additional precautions, including packing bear spray and keeping your campsite clean.

If you do encounter a bear, make sure you:

  • Make a lot of noise so you don’t surprise the bear
  • Give the bear plenty of space
  • Remain still and stand your ground, but slowly and calmly wave your arms
  • Stay calm

We’re Here When You Need Us

If you need medical care at any point during your hike or camping trip, we’re here for you. Our experts will support you with your health needs and get you back to living your best life this summer. Find the urgent care center or emergency room closest to you.

Recent Blogs

An older woman talking on the phone outdoors.
Living Life to the Fullest With Lupus
A father and son grilling on the porch.
Keep Food Safe in the Heat This Summer
Heat Wave Poses Extra Risk to Patients on Certain Medications
A mother buckles her child into a car seat in the back of a car.
5 Tips to Help You Remember Your Child is in the Car
Climate Change and Stroke: Know Your Risk
View More Articles