As hiking grows in popularity and more people choose to hit the trails, what are some ways you can make sure you stay safe?
Hiking’s popularity exploded in 2020, according to a report by RunRepeat.com and the AllTrails app.
The number of recorded walks was 171% higher than in 2019.
Search and rescue teams have also seen an increase in calls in national parks over the years.
So if you’re out hiking, do you know what safety tools to take with you?
A tool used for security are maps. But they’re not always available, especially if you don’t have Internet service and rely on your phone.
“If you don’t have what’s known as offline maps, you can’t communicate with that server anymore. You can’t browse the internet, so you no longer have a map in front of you,” Paul Finlay, CEO of HiiKER App, said. . He originally created the app for himself a few years ago in college, because hiking was his escape. But when he put the app on the app store for download on his own phone, other people downloaded it too.
“Now it’s the industry standard to immediately open that paywall and say, ‘Hey, we want $35, $40, $50 from you to make this work,'” he explained of other apps on the market.
The HiiKER Trail App wanted to change that. Earlier this year, they made all of their offline maps available for free. This way, hikers can download trail maps to their smartphone before starting a hike.
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“If this just helps get more people out there and attracts more people to nature… then honestly nothing makes me happier,” he said.
Finlay said he wants the industry to change.
“When a person downloads maps offline, it actually ends up being cheaper for the app company because it doesn’t use the server as much,” he said. “I can’t get comfortable with the idea of encouraging people to walk, but then charging them for the one thing that will really keep them safe.”
What once started as an app for himself is now used by people all over the world.
“I think we now have close to 30,000 trails on HiiKER, which is crazy for me to think about,” Finlay said.
The American Hiking Society recommends bringing a paper map and compass as a backup for your phone, too.
The other essentials they recommend for a hike are appropriate shoes, water, food, rain gear, safety items, a first aid kit, a knife, and sunscreen.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation also recommends making a plan, walking with a partner, and staying on the trail.
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