5 tips for overnight hikes in parks

You can’t be too prepared for an overnight hike. Follow these tips for a safe and fun overnight hiking experience.

Once you’ve decided on an overnight hike, there are a few things to take into account, like how far you can walk, how to stay safe, and what to take with you.

Here are five tips to make your trip an enjoyable one.

1. How far can I walk in a day?

This will depend on how steep the terrain is and your level of general fitness and ability. If you are a person without disability, with average fitness and the trail is fairly level, then you should be able to walk 15 kilometres in a day without too much trouble.

If things get steep or rocky, if you have children with you, or you have a lower level of fitness or ability, then it’s a good idea to plan to cover a shorter distance.

2. Should I tell someone where I’m going?

Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. This is so important. If something does go wrong, then someone will know where to start looking for you. It’s recommended that you hike with at least one other person, both for safety’s sake and for the fun of sharing a great experience.

Plan your walk carefully and make sure you leave early enough to arrive in daylight. Night walks can be fun if you know the area well and there are no hazards nearby like unfenced cliffs or mineshafts, but they can also be an easy way of getting lost or injured.

It’s also important to stick to the trail and follow markers, and carry a map. Many South Australian parks have maps for download on Avenza Maps, allowing you to download the appropriate map to your smartphone before you go for use offline.

If you have a GPS signal, you can even see yourself as a moving dot on the trail and with some phones, this signal works even when you’re out of mobile network range. A paper map is an important back up, though, as your phone battery may not last your whole trip.

3. What should I bring?

The minimum you’ll need for your first overnight hike is a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, camp stove, food, water, something warm for when the sun goes down, a head torch, a first-aid kit and a mobile phone.

Outdoor stores sell lightweight tents and sleeping bags specifically for hikers, so if you think you’ll be doing a lot of this sort of overnight walking, it’s worth making the investment to lighten your load.

4. How much water do I need?

Most parks don’t have drinking water available, so always take plenty with you and remember to drink regularly. Water is heavy to carry, but you’ll be thankful you’ve brought it along.

The amount of water you’ll need will vary with the weather. The minimum is 2 litres per person per day, with extra for cooking, but if it’s hot weather, you might need double that or even more. Don’t forget to bring plenty of snacks for the trail, either – it’s easy to get hangry on a long hike, and nobody wants that.

5. What about toilets?

Take a little shovel and a roll of loo paper with you, as you won’t see too many toilets on the way. Read up on bush toilet etiquette at the bottom of this page.

Wondering where you can go on an overnight hiking trip in South Australia? Here’s a list of four parks that you simply have to visit.

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