Do’s and Don’ts of Off-Trail Hiking

Off-Trail Hiking

Anyone who has seen the film ‘127 Hours’ or read Aron Ralston’s harrowing account of his fateful trip to Robbers Roost in south east Utah, will know the first rule of hiking off trail….NEVER leave home without telling someone where you’re going.

Aron set out to visit the isolated canyon one spring day in 2003, and nearly lost his life in the process when he became trapped by a fallen rock. After 127 agonising hours, and facing certain death, he finally freed himself by taking the drastic measure of cutting off his trapped arm.

Even in today’s highly-technological world of communication, nothing is guaranteed – especially in the barren wastes far from civilisation, where phone coverage can be spasmodic to say the least and mobiles can be rendered useless by geographical whereabouts or changing weather conditions.


  • Tell someone where you’re going
  • Wear suitable hiking boots or walking shoes
  • Wear layers – body temperature can be crucial in changing weather conditions
  • Carry your gear in a suitable rucksack – comfort is paramount when carrying heavy loads over long distances
  • Heed the local weather forecast – if it says rain or snow is likely, you better believe it!
  • Remember that one slip or stumble may result in a sprained ankle or broken leg, when you could be miles away from help


  • Presume the weather will hold – pack waterproofs along with your sun hat and Factor 10
  • Forget food rations and adequate water
  • Forget the basics – map, compass, first aid kit, multitool and emergency supplies
  • Exceed your own expectations when alone – if it looks to be a step too far, it probably is
  • *Suitable walking boots or approach shoes are probably the most important ingredient on any hiking expedition.

Comfort is everything – blisters can be caused all too easily by ill-fitting footwear, and the pain of seriously sore feet can be unbearable when – to paraphrase Robert Frost – you have miles to go before you sleep!

Whether you’re an experienced pro on the hiking trail, or a beginner just starting out and looking to invest in your first pair of serious boots or shoes, make sure you do your research before committing yourself.

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JC. Princen

“Success is best when it's shared.”

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