Thousands of people traverse South Africa’s mountains daily, with the vast majority making it home safely. Tim Lundy, accredited mountain guide and qualified first aider, outlines how a little forethought and planning can minimise your risk in the great outdoors.

When we talk about mountain safety, we generally refer to four risks:

  • Injury that would require the need for assistance to complete the journey;
  • Losing the trail, becoming disorientated, or going the wrong way (which would require assistance to complete the journey);
  • Being vulnerable to robbery;
  • Fire that would cause damage to the mountain.

Tip #1 Get the gear

Reduce the risk of injury by having good gear and being properly prepared for the hike.

Invest in a good pair of hiking boots — for example, the new HI-TEC Ravus Quest Mid (available for both men and women). They help protect hikers from simple injuries, such as twisting an ankle on wet rocks.

Men’s Ravus Quest Mid

Women’s Ravus Quest Mid

Tip #2 Map it out

Sometimes hikers venture into areas without knowing the terrain and end up getting lost. While most of us are familiar with GPS technology (and the ease of having our mobiles do the thinking for us), it’s crucial to know how to read a map, should we not have access to our tech.

Before you set out, get a map of the area and familiarise yourself with the terrain.

Tip #3 Hydrate

Dehydration can contribute to disorientation, so ensure you take more than enough water.

Tip #4 Extra layers

Remember whatever the temperature it is in urban areas, it can be a good couple of degrees less on the mountain, so dress accordingly. Hypothermia is a surprising (but common) risk for walkers.

Tip #5 The buddy system

MinimiSe nasty encounters on the mountain by walking in a larger group (4+ people) or on a popular route so you don’t get isolated or targeted.

Tip #6 Don’t light fires

This one is self explanatory but crucial to avoiding wildfires, particularly in fynbos or surrounding flora. Don’t light fires on any mountain.

Tip #7 Never underestimate

Mountain rescue teams get called out every year (for all sorts of reasons). Don’t underestimate your surroundings and be prepared for sudden changes in weather.

Be properly geared up, know where you are going and what to expect on the trail. Ask yourself: “How safe is the trail and what precautions can I take to reduce the risk factor when on a hike?”

Always ensure you have a well-equipped first aid kit and do not underestimate a mountain. Mountain safety in all forms should always be taken seriously every time you decide to go out hiking or exploring the great outdoors.

To find boots that can carry you through the mountains, visit HI-TEC.