How to night hike and not die.

Woods Walker

The Wood is cut, The Bacon is cooked, Now it’s tim
Jun 8, 2008
New England woods.
Disclaimer. This is not an E&E type of thread. This is about seeing and being seen. Sometimes for various reasons people night hike. It could be pushing late into an extablished camp. Could be heading late to the next camping site. Maybe returning late from fishing or hunting at dusk. It might be an ER like a break down. Maybe just for training during winter as it gets dark much sooner. Perhaps you're on a night investigation for Bigfoot. Whatever the reason here is the type of gear I prefer packing if expecting a night hike. This is the base line. I may have additional items or even less. Sometimes in life yea deal with what yea got.

The kit.


Lets break it down. Remember my intention is not to spend the night rather go someplace to spend the night.


1. Armytek Standard Wizard.
2. Armytek Viking Pro.
3. Nitecore F2 (sometimes substituted for the F1).

There is a lightning cable inside the bag the F2 came from. The intention is both lights and powerbank use the same battery type in this case 18650. Should I run out there are plenty of options aka rob Peter to pay Paul. I use other combos as well however my preference is for a headlamp and flashlight. Beyond the obvious two is one and one is none logic the flashlight offers greater throw to see the path or potential problems at greater distance. Also a flashlight glares less in the fog/rain/snow. That said the headlamp gets the majority of use for reasons which will be described later.


1. PSK. Larger sized than Altoids
2. Bear spray.
3. Zombie/toxic green Bic lighter.
4. High visibility green LMF Mora knife.

The PSK has FAK items and your usual survival check list things. There are even water tabs inside. The thing is stocked! Also there is a good deal of high visibility paracord whipped around the tin. I like to keep a lighter in my pocket. This way it's warm and if somehow separated from my pack and knife odds are I can get fire. The woods has bears but really the occasional domestic dog running free is a more probable concern. Most know the LMF Mora knife has a ferro rod in the handle.


1. Gloves.
2. Tyvek suit
3. Dry bag.
4. Reflective pack straps and bright orange reflective vest.

During hunting season I pack the vest. If I am night hiking odds are was also active at dusk. My hat is also hunter orange. What is more likely? I am shot by a black helicopter following me or by accident during hunting season. I hunt myself so understand the issue from both perspectives. Also the vest is great when crossing or utilizing roads. The reflective zombie green removable straps which can be seen better in the video are for street crossings or walking. They light up like Christmas trees when hit by my flashlight or headlamp beam. The Tyvek suit acts as a wind break, rain suit and jumbo contractor trash bag all in one.


1 Poncho.
2. Cordage kit/ridgeline kit.
3. TP.

I carry some kinda poncho all the time in my kits but really like the Equinox Silponcho with extension. The cordage kit allows me to instantly setup an adjustable ridge line. The ridge line kit allows for a very fast adjustable tarp pitch. That combined with the cordage whipped around the PSK adds up to a good amount. TP goes with the territory

The following are action shots from the video. This was filmed the night before thanksgiving. In all the years walking this trail I have only seen two other people. More people probably use it but this section has no parking. So despite having a road or house within a few miles of any point no one is coming if someone breaks their leg, more so the day before thanksgiving. The number one rule is to have a float plan. Tell a responsible person your plans and expected return. Do not change your plan unless that person is informed first. A float plan is worthless if you're not in the expected area. The temps started off in the 50's but dropped into the high 20's during the night. You don't need to be 50 miles from no place to die of exposure or injury. Do not depend on your phone alone for this after the fact if in trouble.


4 legs are better than two. My primary concern is mechanical injuries. They're not action packed like a herd of zombies. Often they don't even make the paper but in the middle of no place at night isn't the place to be hurt. Hands free is the primary reason why a headlamp does most of the work.


This is maybe a 15-20 foot drop then a very steep slide into moving water. Guessing 10 feet from the trail. It is squid **** black out. One reason why I invest so much in lights.

Brook trout in..... the brook!!!



The throw light is great for getting me back on the correct path. The floody headlamp for seeing all around to avoid slips, trips and falls. Wet leaves are a risk.



It's hard to see in this freeze frame but the video shows there is moving water under these rocks. Never trust anything which is subject to moving water in terms of stability. Often rocks which are under cut will give way. This is made more problematical at night because... it's dark.


These are across the trail so I went around. They could stay up for 5 years or .05 seconds. Having seen trees and branches fall (and thereby actually make a sound cuz I heard them...yea....right) in the woods my impression was there is no time to dodge anything. It happens so fast. It is best to be someplace else which is what I did.



An easy to avoid obstacle across the trail. So long as you see it. A fall is a fall. Once the dice is cast if falling one never knows how it will play out.


On the dark dank road dressed in black and camo synthetic clothing. Those reflectors come into play here. That's about it. No bear attacks. No survival situation. Just pushing late on a hike.


Here is a video of me ranting about and doing all of the above.

Thanks for looking.


Staff member
Dec 23, 2008
Penn's Woods
WW- Do you change the footwear you use for hiking at night? Something sturdier due to less visibility?


Well-known member
Jan 3, 2014
As a fellow outdoors enthusiast, I definitely appreciate your posts, Woods Walker. Your stories and photos invoke a desire for adventure.

As a night hiker myself, it's interesting to see the gear you carry on your hikes given that you live in the Northeast and I live in the Southwest in Southern California. Having recently moved back here after a decade in Maryland and DC, it's certainly a different experience when you're outdoors. It goes beyond the temperatures, humidity, and seasons to even the trails and lighting. For example, on most trails in So Cal, you have direct moonlight given it's a desert climate so tree canopies aren't common. Hence, I often find many people on popular trails with vistas who don't carry flashlights. They rely on the moonlight or their cell phones for lighting. While that will get you where you need to go in most cases, I find it inadequate and it's evident when I compare my rate of travel to them. They are often stumbling around looking for good footing on inclines or just walking slower because they can't see the path well. A flashlight makes a huge difference even when the moon is out in full force to light up the trail, obstacles, and other things. I also like to examine human artifacts like stone mounds, dropped items, and geocaches and you really need a flashlight for that. I also like using a flashlight to spot spider webs so I don't walk right into one and to spot wild animals on the trail. Speaking of which, the predatory animals we have here are coyotes, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes as the ones that people fear. The mountains have black bears. However, encountering any of them is rare unless you're in the right place at the right time. I haven't seen a single one since moving back here in the late summer but have seen wild tarantulas in late September. I was delighted as I haven't seen them before in the wild. Field mice and wild rabbits are a very common sighting on night hikes. I see multiple on every single hike. Sometimes, birds of prey fly around in the darkness, hunting them.

I also don't regularly carry any fire-starting materials for short hikes. It doesn't get cold enough here to warrant one unless you're in the mountains. Furthermore, it's a grave danger in causing wild fires. I think we all know of the wild fire risk in California as some record-breaking ones currently burn. Having personally lost a home to a CA wild fire back in 2003, I take it very seriously. While the fire that took out our family's home was started by an arsonist, the fire that burned in San Diego at the same time was started accidentally by a lost hunter who used a flare.

On the contrary to fire, water is of special importance out here. It's much hotter and you get more sun exposure during day hikes as many trails are on the ridgeline. Streams and other water sources are also rare here and most are often dried up. This means that packing water is essential. Hence, my day hiking bags are often hydration bags from Camelbak or Osprey designed around the hydration component while offering gear storage. I often end up packing more water than I needed for daytime trips but I don't see that as a bad thing out here.

I also carry the other essentials such as a first aid pack, multitool, knife, spare batteries, spare flashlights, and a power bank. I also own a Nitecore F1 but favor carrying dedicated power banks for short trips. I find them more convenient to use and many have built-in LED lights for convenience and back-up. Some now have water, shock, and dirt proof designs with IPX6 to IP68 ratings. I recently picked one up with a 4000mAh rating for under $15.

Again, I enjoy your posts and adventures. It's always great to see a fellow flashlight enthusiast out in the dark wilderness.


Well-known member
Mar 10, 2011
Those are interesting points about the difference between the two areas. Good to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing!

american lockpicker

Well-known member
May 29, 2008
West Virginia, USA
I would night hike in the wintertime using moon light reflecting off the snow and lights from distant houses I could see through the trees to navigate. I was able to do so successfully multiple times without needing a light although I did carry a Surefire 6P and a 3C LED Maglite. I'm planning on experimenting with IR and Gen 3 NVG soon.


New member
May 5, 2019
How to night hike and not die

If youre going to hike at night, I highly recommend wearing eye protection. I almost lost an eye many years ago hiking at night. The person in front of me pulled a branch forward and let it go, and part of it hit me square in the eye. Of course this was on a field training exercise and we werent using lights. Even using lights, Id recommend wearing some clear glasses. Its cheap insurance for something which is irreplaceable.


Well-known member
Mar 10, 2011
Re: How to night hike and not die

Ouch, that's a good thing to think about. Glad to hear that your eye recovered.