Why hike at night?
The question of why some people hike at night seems to stir controversy, normally due to the debatable factor of safety. It’s obvious that hiking at night will impair one’s vision causing difficulty to see compared to hiking during the daytime; however, hiking at night has its advantages. There’s less crowds, you get a break from the heat especially during the summer months, the stars and moon shine brighter on the trail compared to the city, and because your vision is impaired, your other senses will awaken, making you feel more connect to your surroundings and with nature.
How can I see at night?
Natural Night Vision
Your eyes will naturally adjust to the dark – I know, the anatomy of our body works wonders. Years of evolution passed down from our Paleolithic ancestors has given us the gift of night vision. Thanks to them, our eyes will naturally adjust to the darkness, giving us natural night vision.
Be aware it does take time for our eyes to grow accustom to the night, from up to 45 mins or longer. However, it will take just about any glimpse of a bright white light from a flashlight or lamp to ruin your night vision that you worked up for.
While your natural night vision is active, use your peripheral vision instead of staring straight at an object. There are more rods in your retina peripherals that allow you to see better in dim light. That means rather than staring directly on an object, try looking at an object with a blank gaze to get a better focus.
Headlamp or Flashlight
Despite the superpowers that we possess, there are times when night vision may not be enough. You’ll need a headlamp or flashlight in case clouds or fog roll in. In addition to safety precautions, your headlamp or flashlight may come in handy when trying to read a map or sign, or if you need to reach for something inside your pack. Keep in mind that any flash of bright light will kill off your night vision that you worked hard for, so be sure to only use your light source when you really need it.
Tips for hiking at night
What to pack
When preparing for a night hike, the same goes for how you’d plan a normal day hike. Depending on the length of your trail, your pack may vary. Essentials for any hike should be water, snacks/food, first aid, and other gear that you may see fit. Hiking at night does require a bit extra gear needed such as a flashlight or headlamp.
Keep your pack organized
You want to keep the use of your headlamp or flashlight to a minimum, so make sure you know where things are in your pack. Keep things that you know will be taken out frequently such as water and snacks and put that at the top or front of your pack.
Start with a familiar trail
If this is your first time hiking at night, we recommend starting with a trail that you’re comfortable and familiar with. With some much awe during your night hike, one can easily get side-tracked and lost.
Hike with a partner or group
Hiking with others will enhance safety by having more eyes on the trail. At night, one can easily get spooked by a snap from a twig or wind being blown.
Hiking in the dark is more challenging even if you’re familiar with the trail. Small rocks or vegetation may appear out of nowhere and may cause you to possibly trip on it, hurting yourself if not too careful. Take it slow and enjoy the wonders of the night.
With absence of the sun, temperatures may get cooler. Always check the weather forecast before going outdoors. It’s important to bring an extra layer just in case and dress accordingly.