You can find countless hiking checklists online telling you what you should bring for the great outdoors and how many. But what if you run into an emergency during a trek and the solution is not in your bag? Such occasions call for MacGyver skills and know-how, like the ones we’re sharing with you right now.

Picture taken at Jungfrau

Getting Blisters

If they’re small, let them be as these will eventually heal. However, if you have a broken blister, do a simple first aid and clean and disinfect it with water, rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer. Cut off any ragged edges of skin. Apply antibiotic ointment or iodine drops. Cover with a band aid, plaster strips, or a piece of cotton sealed with duct tape.

If you got the kind that hasn’t broken yet but is giving you much discomfort, try pricking it carefully with a safety pin or needle sanitized with rubbing alcohol. You don’t need to cut off the skin as this will serve as your natural barrier. You can cut off the extra skin a few days after it has dried up, though. After draining it, apply wound ointment or iodine and cover it up as previously mentioned.

One blister treatment hack that you can use for long hikes is applying superglue to the sterilized and drained blister. The superglue acts as an extra layer of skin that protects the popped blister from infection.

Feeling Dizzy

Dizziness can be a symptom of many conditions, which makes it one tricky situation. If you’re hiking under hot conditions, you’re probably on the brink of getting a heat stroke or dehydration. In this case, you should stop, put your pack down, and rest under a shaded or cool area along the trail for a couple of minutes or until the dizziness fades.

If the nearest shade is quite a distance away, use an umbrella, hoodie, or hat and take a few sips of water. Loosen up your clothes, too, to let in air and lower your body temperature.

Dizziness can also occur when you’re hungry or missed taking your medication (if any). Take time to refuel a bit or take your medicines if these are the case.

Running Out of Water

Somehow, you ended up consuming all your hydration before you arrived at your destination or the next water source. Or maybe spilled them along the way or used them for other emergencies. What to do if you’re thirsty and your bottle is empty?

Iodine tablets or a portable filter could help you out at this point – if you brought either. You can collect any water you can find on the trail and purify this with the filtration system or the tablets. Or you can pick edible berries to moisten your throat a bit.

You can also hike under the shade or rest a bit every now and then to keep yourself from drying out further until you reach a water source. See to it that you’re dressed or changed in light-colored clothing if you’re hiking in humid or hot conditions to keep yourself from feeling the heat even more. Don’t breathe with your mouth open, too. Keep breathing through your nose even on difficult ascents or descents.

Soaking Wet Clothes and Shoes

It’s not often that you get a perfect day for a hike. When a sudden downpour happens – or you accidentally got your clothes and footwear wet – it’s important to dry them out quick so you avoid hypothermia, which is the case when you’re hiking in cold climate.

If not all of your clothes and shoes got wet, put the wet ones in a plastic bag or dry bag. This could also be done the other way around if you got more wet clothes than dry ones – you’ll need to make sure the dry clothes stay dry. Squeeze and hang the wet ones inside your tent or shelter if it’s raining or windy and wet outside. Make sure that you spread out the clothes so they dry faster. You can also twist and spin the clothes above your head or in front of you to remove extra water and speed up the process.

If you’re able to get a camp fire going, place your clothes and hiking boots nearby. Make sure they’re not too near or you’ll damage them.

If the items are not dripping wet, you’re in luck. You can hasten the drying process by putting the smaller items of clothing near you or in your sleeping bag so the heat can speed up water evaporation. Do this with the things that you really, really need to use the next day or in a couple of hours.

Picture taken at the Aletsch Glacier

Getting Lost

As soon as you realize you’re lost, stop and assess your situation calmly. Observe your surroundings and check your map. Alert the ranger or your emergency contact so you get help as soon as possible. Then, find a spot nearby – or set up shelter – that will protect you from the sun, wind, and rain (including wild animals, if there’s any on your trail) but will still be easily visible by rescuers. Cover up with a blanket, keep yourself hydrated, and wait.

Avoid transferring or walking onwards, except if your current location is really unsafe. This is so that rescuers won’t go on a cat-and-mouse search that likely will stretch on longer than it should.

Have you got into any of these emergency situations in the past? Share your experience with us!


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