It is important that you are well prepared for your hike; you should know exactly where you are going to, and take every precaution you can think of to help your hike progress smoothly with no unwanted hiccups. Many hikers go hiking with a partner, particularly if they are planning to complete a long-distance hike. Ensure you have a compass with you, even if you are planning to stick to a marked trail, just in case you get lost. You will need an ample supply of food and water. Check the weather too so know what gear you should be wearing - but remember - the weather can chance unexpectedly, so be prepared for all eventualities. Waterproof matches are a good idea, too, just in case a fire needs to be started.
A well-stocked first aid kit is an essential piece of kit for every hiker. Keep it stocked with bangades and antiseptic creams to clean up cuts and avoid infection. If you are unlikely to be able to seek help quickly, make sure you have researched how to dress wounds properly. Most trails have exit paths that lead towards main roads; knowing where the off-routes are is essential in the event that you are injured.
An ample supply of water will include enough water for your hike, as well as some extra water just in case you need it. Experienced hikers often invest in purification systems to save carrying extra weight. Drinking untreated water is never a good idea and could introduce a host of unfamiliar bacteria into your body.
You will need to know how to make a fire, particularly if you are camping-out; as well as providing warmth, fires also deter wild animals. If you are hurt, fires can also be used to signal your location to others in the vicinity, enabling them to find you.
Dressing properly will keep you safe; make sure you have rain gear, and are dressed in layers to enable you to adjust your clothing to surrounding temperatures. Wearing hiking shoes will save your feet from blisters and other injuries associated with walking for long periods in inadequate footwear.
Respect your surroundings
Leave everything exactly where it was when you found it; disturbing the land can result in rock or landslides, potentially endangering you and any other people or animals in the vicinity. In the same vein, leave plants and wildlife alone; do not eat any seeds or berries that you find on your path, even if they look familiar. Keep an eye out for warning signs, depending on where you are hiking, some signs may have overgrown or become hidden, but the hazards will still be there. Look out in particular for falling rock signs. You can see all the different types of signs here, courtesy of My Safety Signs. Wild animals may look cute, but do not approach them or endeavour to engage with them; to do so is likely to cause them stress, and put you in danger of being scratched or bitten. Some species carry rabies, making it even more important that you leave them alone.