OUTDOOR BASICS

Night Hiking: How to Have the Perfect Hike Under the Stars

Night Hiking
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Whether you stayed out too late by accident or on purpose, you’re already aware how different night hiking is in comparison to taking on a trail during the day. The minute it becomes dark and night fall, the trail you once thought you were familiar with becomes a new territory. You hear new sounds, once visible landmarks become hidden and well, the animals of the night come out.

Now, this isn’t supposed to scare you, night hiking, when prepared can be a really fun adventure, almost as if you’re exploring the area all over again. In fact, we suggest you give night hiking a try. It can be a lot of fun and you’ll experience the wilderness in a different light.

Hike at Night

However, you just can’t go out in the middle of the night and start hiking, you need to be prepared. This is why we’re here. In this article, we want to show you how to prepare yourself properly for night hiking so that you enjoy your experience to the fullest and, of course, safest. Here is everything you need to know.

Why Night Hiking?

You may be curious about night hiking, however, at the same time asking yourself “why would people want to do this?” Of course, if you’re scared of the dark, then night hiking can sound like a nightmare to you. However, there are some pretty good reasons as for why you should try to give it a try.

Nature Observation

At night, the wilderness is a different world. You’ll be hearing new sounds, seeing animals you wouldn’t see during the day, in addition, your senses are heightened due to your lack of sight.

Nature Observation at Night

You’ll be able to see new wildlife then what you’re typically used to seeing when on day hikes.

Reduced temperature

If you’re wanting to hike during the summer period, then you know how hot the weather can get which can greatly affect your ability to hike. Many people suffer from heatstroke or dehydration while you’re daytime hiking. However, during the night, you’re able to hike in cooler temperatures which may be more convenient and pleasant for you.

Developed skill set

If you’re a fan of night hiking, it’s a good idea to at least go once to develop it as a skillset. You may be a strict daytime hiker, however, accidents can easily happen which results in you stuck on your trail in the middle of the night. In this case, knowing how to night hike may come in as a necessity for your survival.

Night Hiking Skills

Now that you know why you should give night hiking a try, it’s time to learn how to night hike properly. We’re going to tell you all the tools you’ll need and tips to help you have a successful night hiking trip.

What You Need to Get Started

Before you even consider going on a night hike, you need to be properly equipped. Though most likely nothing will happen, it’s important to take proper safety measures so that you’re safe. Here’s what you need to prepare yourself with prior to hiking.

Physical Fitness

Before you plan a night hike, you should be physically fit before taking on something as challenging and new as a night hike. Do prepare yourself for going on day hikes, as well as going on longer hikes at least a minimum of four hours.

Gear Up

You need to have the proper gear with you when night hiking. Of course, since you’ll be hiking at night, you’ll need to carry a little more gear with you than you normally would during day hikes.

Night Hiking Gear

If you have these ten essentials with you, your hike will run smoothly.

  • Map
  • Pocket knife
  • Compass
  • Extra food and water
  • Headlamp
  • Matches/lighter
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle
  • Fire Starter

Proper clothing and shoes

You’ll need to wear proper clothing and shoes that are adaptable to the climate. Of course, those the temperatures are cooler, the sun will come up so, be ready with a couple clothing options that you can layer. You should wear clothes that are non-cotton, quick drying and of course, wear layers. Make sure you have proper hiking shoes which will offer you support on the terrain you’re on.

Shoes for Night Hiking

So, make sure that you have the right clothing on, your ten essential tools and of course, that you’re physically fit. Once you have all of these elements, you’re almost ready to go on a hike!

Tips on How to Night Hike

Now that you know why you need to give night hiking a try and what you’ll be needing for your hike, it’s time you learned how to night hike. Let’s take a closer look at how to night hike properly.

Go in a group

When it comes to night hiking, the more the merrier, especially if it’s your first time. Of course, having friends will help keep you company, but it’s also a safety feature. While hiking in groups, you’ll reduce your chances of running into an animal that wants to turn you into dinner.

Night Hiking in a Group

In addition, your likelihood of having gear, communication equipment and safety kits are much higher when you’re traveling in groups. We recommend, whether it’s day or night hiking, that you try to travel with at least one other person.

Bring enough lights

You may be thinking that this is the last thing you want to bring with you, you’re night hiking, why would you need lights? Well, you need lights, in fact, we suggest not to go night hiking unless you have them. You want to be able to see where you’re walking. So, bringing a flashlight or headlamp is a great idea.

However, you also want to bring a non-battery operated lighting such as a lighter. In addition, make sure you bring some tinder or at least some light materials that will help you build a campfire if necessary.

Night Hiking Lights

Tip: When you’re using your lights in a group setting, you want to organize some sort of system so that all the people in your group don’t have their lights turned on. If you all have your lights on, well, you’ll ruin the atmosphere and experience what it’s like to truly hike in the dark. So, you and your group need to work it out so that you’re all safe, yet, enjoying the experience.

Check your batteries ahead of time and bring extras

We tend to forget this small, yet, an important feature on our devices: batteries. Usually, we don’t notice that they need to be changed until they’re dead. So, if you’re going to be night hiking, you need to double check ahead of time and make sure your batteries are fully functioning.

Checking Batteries

In addition, you also need to make sure you have extra batteries at your disposal. There’s nothing scarier than being in the middle of the wilderness and your batteries die out, especially when you’re relying on them the most.

Don’t disrupt wildlife

Yes, you do want to be equipped with the proper lighting, however, you’re in the wild to experience it in its natural state. Do not go into the wilderness, beaming your flashlight around everywhere, disrupting the natural environment.

Do Not Disturb Wildlife

You should be highly aware of your surroundings since the wildlife is different at night, however, don’t be annoying. Take your time while walking through the trail and make sure you’re alert to your surroundings while respecting the wildlife.

Check the weather forecast

Listen, you need to check the weather forecast. Don’t listen to your grandma, even though she’s an expert on the weather channel. You need to do your own research and make sure that you’re going to hit the trail when you have proper visibility.

Weather Forecast

We recommend you plan your hike around the lunar cycle, it’ll help you in choosing the period with the most visibility. You want to avoid going on a hike when it’s foggy or overly cloudy. Going on a clear night means you’ll have proper visibility and temperature.

Test out your gear beforehand

You probably bought some extra gear to go on this night hike which is a great idea, you’re preparing yourself in advanced. But, word of caution, just because you have new gear it doesn’t mean it’ll be of much use. You need to know how to use your new gear beforehand. If you have brand-new equipment, make sure you have full knowledge about your gear and how it works.

Testing Hiking Gear

Once night falls, the last thing you want to do is try to read the instruction manual for it. So, before going on your night hike, make sure you test your gear out and become comfortable with it because it’s a lot different at night then it is in daylight.

Don’t try a new trail

You’re probably thinking that you want to try night hiking on a new trail that you’ve never been on because you heard it’s good for night hiking. Listen, don’t do it. Never try a new trail when you’re embarking on a night hike.

Night time is not the time to try new things and test out untouched lands. When you go on your night hike, you’ll want to go on a trail that you’re very comfortable hiking. This way, you’re familiar with the trail, you know your location and what to expect. Seeing your trail during the night will be a different experience for you and won’t look like the trail you usually hike during the day.

Do Not Try New Trail

Once you’ve tried night hiking a couple times, then you can try to test out new trails during the day before taking them on at night.

Tell someone your plans

You may think this is for someone who is a beginner with hiking, however, it’s not the case.  Even the most experienced hikers alert people of where they’re going to be hiking. What happens if your batteries die out and you’re stuck in the middle of the woods? You’ll be wishing at that moment that you told someone where you are.

Make sure you tell someone like a friend or family member of where you’ll be. It’s even better if you give them the route you’ll be on, that way, if something happens, they know exactly where you’ll be. You want people to be able to find you relatively easy.

Girl is Texting

In addition, tell them how long the hike will be so that they have an idea of the time period where they should start to be concerned about your whereabouts.

Embrace the dark

You usually don’t hear people say this. Instead, they tell you that you should be scared of the dark and that’s dangerous. Well, of course, there’s a certain amount of danger involved in night hiking just like there is when you’re hiking during the day. If you’re curious about night hiking it’s obvious that you want to try to embrace the darkness rather than fear it.

Embrace the dark

When you’re night hiking, it’ll take you around 30 minutes to become adjusted to the light, however, with a headlamp, it’ll help you adjust your eyesight quickly. Once your eyes are adjusted, now all you have to do is hike and take in everything.

Wrap Up

Night hiking has become a popular activity amongst the outdoor community. If you’re into hiking, why not change things up and challenge yourself by going hiking in the dark.

With night hiking, you’re able to see old trails in a new light, heighten your senses and experience the world with different eyes. Though, we do recommend you go with someone, when you’re hiking in darkness, it’ll feel like you’re alone.

Night Hiking

Night hiking isn’t difficult to do, however, you do want to be properly prepared. Make sure you have the proper gear, you go on a trail you’re familiar with and someone knows where you are.

If you follow our guide, you’ll be able to go on a night hike without any problems. We listed everything you need in order to hike, plus, we gave you the how-to on a successful night hiking adventure. Be prepared, be alert and embrace the darkness, we know you’ll love the experience. Have you gone night hiking before? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jerry Mueller

Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.