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Solo Hiking Confidence
For Female Hikers

By Diane Spicer

Female solo hikers need confidence in their skills. Here's how to get it. #solohiking #soloconfidence #femalesolohiker #solohiker #hikingalone #hiking #backpacking

Solo hiking confidence: Is it something a woman is born with?

Or is it something that can be learned?

In my mind, it's a bit of both.

If you were lucky enough to be raised by confident adults who did not micromanage your behavior, confidence is probably one of many positive traits you absorbed.

Your attitude toward solo hiking and backpacking is probably something like this:

"Take off on a solo hike? Sure! Nothing is holding me back!"

But if you had timid parents, or were not taken into the outdoors regularly, maybe it's something you have to learn.

  • And you can!

What solo hiking confidence
is made of

You know that old rhyme about "sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of"?

Yeah, let's leave that on the trash heap.

Sweetness and being nice ain't gonna cut it when you go solo.

Solo trail confidence implies a complete and total trust in

  • your hiking skills,
  • safety and navigation knowledge,
  • decision making ability, and
  • physical limits.

It's mental, physical, and for some women, spiritual strength all rolled into one.

Which should give every female hiker something to think about:

How and where do I get the skills

to build solo hiking confidence?

Glad you asked!

In no particular order, here's a list of where to turn to get your solo hiking confidence oozing from every pore, right along with your perspiration.

Hike your own hike meme with yellow and red autumn leaves

Solo hiking confidence checklist:
start with some book smarts

The internet is crawling with sites dedicated to hiking.

A small corner is devoted to solo hiking, aimed at female hikers.

And even fewer are give solid information without generating or reinforcing fear.

So only go to the best sources, the ones that won't feed your fears but will offer you practical tips on how to hike solo.

Keywords to use

Your keywords for searching for solo hiking information could include Hiking For Her's topics:

Are you getting the idea that you'll have to do meticulous and extensive planning if you plan to go solo?

After all, you're in charge!

Work on your mindset

For a female solo hiker or backpacker, thoughts have power.

Time for a few words about preparing yourself mentally in case you must face a dicey personal safety situation on the trail.

Focus your mind as you hike

There are times and places along the trail when you can just relax and tune into your own thoughts.

But when you get that "uh oh" feeling in the pit of your stomach, even if you don't consciously know why, it's time to focus your thoughts on your safety.

Some of these suggestions you probably won't like, because women are trained to be sociable, truthful, and helpful from birth.

It's up to you to implement them, or not, but IMHO they are best practices for solo hiking women.

  • Don't wear earbuds. Ever. Stay aware.
  • Size up the types of hikers you meet on the trail, and react appropriately.
  • Make eye contact when appropriate, and say a few words in order to anchor yourself in their memory so they can recall where & when they saw you.
  • Carry pepper spray or a weapon with the full realization that it can be turned against you.
  • Never admit that you're alone. Refer to a hiking partner or make up a male name and say they're nearby (pit stop, changing clothes, whatever but don't feel you  have to volunteer that info).
  • If facing someone on the trail who makes you uncomfortable, stand tall and use a strong voice to take yourself out of the victim category. Self defense classes can drill this into you so it becomes automatic.
  • Don't reveal your real name, destination or hiking plans to strangers, no matter how benign they seem.
  • Carry a personal locator beacon where you can grab it quickly. Or a Bivy Stick.
  • Forget being a "nice girl". Be a savvy, smart woman who can take care of herself.

Membership organizations
have solo hiking tips

Sadly, there are no solo hiker groups (that would be an oxymoron, no?)

But there are hiking groups which run classes, sponsor hiking events, and create a "can do" environment for those who want to expand their hiking knowledge base.

Take a look at Washington Trails Association's stance on solo hiking.

American Hiking Assocation can also get you started on thinking about building trail smarts.

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is also worth a look, but be prepared to invest a lot of time into their intensive coursework.

REI Co-op classes also address solo hiking skills, and how to strengthen your general hiking and camping skills so you can gain confidence.

Home study
and on line courses

I am a fervent believer in the do-it-yourself approach.

What better way to learn to identify trees than to get out there, field guide in hand, and LOOK at trees? (or what have you: flowers, insects, snakes, butterflies....).

I've stumbled across a few pretty cool "schools" for those of us who love to learn, and don't need a classroom or structured setting.

Self-mentoring, I guess you'd call it.

Wilderness Awareness is my favorite, with Seattle area courses as well as on line learning opportunities.

And I'd love to receive your recommendations for courses you'd love to take.

Private female hiking community

Join our Over Forty hiking community to be encircled by other women who can help you gain solo hiking confidence.

It was created as one small way to give back for the hiking knowledge and confidence I've received over the decades.

My Girl Scout leaders, camp counselors, and family friends challenged me to take those first scary steps into the big, wide unknown, and to keep going.

  • They gave me feedback.
  • They challenged me to get better every time I went out.

And now that I'm an old trail dog, it's time to give back. And I'm not the only woman who feels that way.

  • Read more about our community here.

What are you waiting for?

All of those gorgeous hiking trails are waiting for your boot prints.

But only you can give yourself permission to get out there.

What are you waiting for?

You owe yourself the chance to see what you can do quote over a frozen lake and snow covered mountain background

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Solo Hiking Confidence