With summer quickly approaching, it is time to start planning what adventures to take. For some, this means a trip with the kids to see family, for others it means laying on the beach to soak in the sunshine. For many others, this means the thrill of testing oneself against the rugged terrain of the mountains or the forest.

Hiking is one of the most well-rounded activities a person can participate in. It is great for both your mental and physical health, helps inspire creativity, and has even been shown to help combat  depression. Hiking in a wheelchair can also seem really difficult. Wheeling through a tough trail—and even just getting from your house to the trailhead itself, can feel like an overwhelming endeavor.

But, thousands of adaptive hikers around the world see wheelchair hiking a bit differently. They know from experience that the right equipment can go a long way (literally), and they’re now out conquering roots, rocks, inclines, and whatever else the woods throws their way. Even if it looks a bit different than it used to, hiking can (and should) still be on your list of options!

Whether you use a GRIT Freedom chair or traverse the woods another way, safety should always be a top priority. To make it easier, we have created a list of tips that will help on your next solo adaptive hiking trip.

Want to connect with other adaptive hikers? Join the Facebook group →

Tip #1: Stock up on the right gear and supplies:

Preparing a rucksack or bag with all the essentials to aid you on your hike is a critical step in the planning process. To get you thinking on what to put in your bag, we have listed a few basic supplies you should consider below: 

Phone (with the location tracker turned on)

Map of the hiking perimeters 


Hydro-flasks for water

Trail snacks

Rain parkas or windbreakers 

Basic first-aid kit

Going the extra mile and investing in high-quality sunscreens and mosquito repellents can make your time on the trail even more enjoyable. While it is important to pack the necessities, make sure you don’t go overboard, since you will have to lug the heavy bag around with you all day. If you’re using a GRIT Freedom Chair, you can easily sling a backpack on the seat back and load it up for a day on the trails.

Also make sure you have the tools you need for the equipment you’re bringing. Every all-terrain wheelchair, prosthesis, cane, or crutch will be unique, so make sure you are prepared for on-the-trail repairs. GRIT Freedom Chairs use standard bicycle parts to make this easy. Prosthesis users may want to be armed with a chafe guard, barrier cream, or set of Allen keys to tighten things up as necessary.

You can never be too prepared or safe when participating in solo adaptive hikes. Flat tires, loose screws, tough inclines, mud, and more will happen. The last thing you want is to be stranded without the appropriate tools or supplies. So, even if you’re not hiking Mt. Everest, a small tool bag can make the difference between an unsafe situation and a totally awesome experience.

Bring a chair that can handle the rough terrain

While battery-powered chairs are great options for some hikers, they are not without their risks. Battery life is, of course, the biggie here, and because you’ll be chugging through dirt, inclines, and off-road paths, the batteries may deplete faster than expected. Backup batteries can also be cumbersome and difficult to swap out.

Powered chairs also tend to be massive in size and tremendous in weight. This makes them extremely difficult to transport, but also difficult to maneuver on the trail. We know some unbelievably strong hikers out there, but not many who can lift a 350-pound electric chair over a felled tree.

If a manual chair is an option, it will actually help make the trails more manageable. The GRIT Freedom Chair disassembles in just a couple of minutes; fits into virtually any car; is light enough to maneuver; and won’t require an expensive vehicle, lift, or trailer to transport. Load up your GRIT Freedom Chair, head to the trail, pop on the quick-release wheels and seat back, and ride!

Your all-terrain wheelchair should also help you hike with assistance, if you want it. If you want to tackle a tougher trail or just need a nudge now and again, equip your chair with push or Trail Handles and have that option whenever you need it. While power chairs offer a fair amount of, well, power, they limit the ways riders can be supported by friends and family. With the right all-terrain manual chair, you can have the option to go out 100% independently or to take on different adventures with the help of a friend.

Get more information on the GRIT Freedom Chair →

Tip #2: Create an itinerary and share it

Before setting out on your adventure, keep a close eye on specific things like weather patterns, updates on the hiking trails you are going to be exploring, and local news. Prepare and share your itinerary with your closest family or friends and let them know your exact trail path, which can often be as simple as a text or call telling them the following:




Hiking trail path

It is also important to consider the trail texture when choosing a path that is suitable for your mobility equipment. While it can be enjoyable at times, it is important to consider the dangers of slippery slopes and hazardous topography. 

If there are any animal hazards in the area, such as bears, it is best to carry a whistle or bear spray to deter them. These little details are easy to overlook, but can often be the most important.

Another danger to look out for is the presence of poisonous plants such as sumac and poison ivy. Take appropriate precautions and wear clothes that sufficiently cover your body.

Tip #3: Educate yourself

Reading and researching articles on safety and other precautions is a great way to prepare for your next excursion. It is also important to read about your hiking location and make yourself aware of any problems that may arise.

Talk to other experienced hikers and ask for advice and tips on having a successful hike! The Beyond the Pavement Facebook group is a great place to ask questions about where to hike, how to hike, and even connect with others who may want to join you on the adventure. Join the group here ->

Below are a few things to check before leaving for a hiking day:

Inspect and tune up your equipment beforehand.

Ensure the air in your tires is at a pressure appropriate for the trail.

Check out the incline level of the hike.

Tip #4: Have an emergency plan

It is important to have a backup plan in case things don’t go exactly the way you expect them to. Make sure a friend or family member knows where you are and can reach you as quickly as possible if things turn bad.

 If you have health concerns, make sure to pack appropriate items such as:

  • Medicines
  • Vitamins/supplements
  • Inhalers
  • Epipens 
  • Insulin 

Always keep emergency contacts on speed dial and make sure you inform family about your trip.

Pro tip: If you’re in the woods and need help, take along a whistle and blow three times into it. Trail instructors know this is the national distress signal and—when in earshot—will immediately rush to assist you.

If you happen to stray away from the trail, do not panic, stay calm, breathe, and try to look for trail marks to retrace your path. Check your map for landmarks and plan your return route accordingly. If nothing works, use your whistle or phone to call for help.

Tip #5: Test your own limits

Wheelchair users shouldn’t have to stop doing the things they enjoy. If anything, your chair should help you do more than ever before. If you want to go hiking, go hiking—just make sure you have the right tool for the job.

Test your strength by trying different hiking trails. Explore the wilderness and soothe your mind with the melody of mother nature. Connect with your inner conscience and just enjoy the ride!


While solo adaptive hiking can seem intimidating, it just takes a little preparation and the right tools. Done right, and you will find yourself enjoying peaceful (or adrenaline-pumping) nature trails in no time.

Want to connect with other adaptive hikers? Join the Facebook group →