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Hiking at night

Sooner or later it happens. Darkness descends and you are miles from your destination.  If you are equipped, it is time for lights, most ideally a headlamp.

But the best place for the headlamp is not on your head, but in your grubby paws..  On most trails, a light on your head, wipes out shadows, making bumps and irregularities in the trail indistinguishable, in extreme cases causing disorientation.  A hand held headlamp resolves the issue.  Of course, when you are scrambling or climbing, your headlamp goes on your head.

I like to make minimal use of any outside light in any event.  hiking at dusk, delay your light until your eyes are fully dark adapted.  You may find that starlight and moonlight will be sufficient, especially if the moon is nearly full.  Use the least amount of illumination possible to preserve your dark adaptation.

Pay attention to your other senses.  Your feet can often distinguish between the trail and off trail terrain.  in tall timber, a glance skyward will often reveal a clear path.  Be aware of switchbacks, it is easy to walk off one in the dark...

I gained a lot of experience in night hiking doing recreational hiking, but especially in SAR, where operations usually either began or ended in the dark.

What tips or insight can you provide to assist one foundering in the dark?

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
10 Replies

listening to audio book of LOTR, so when I read the lantern post, well…



REI Member Since 1979