Why Do Hikers Wear Cowbells?

Why Do Hikers Wear Cowbells?

Adventurous souls around the planet are curious to seek the unknown. Mountain hikers and trail hikers are amongst those people. Does the sound of going on a hike excite you and refreshes you? Then you, too, are an adventure-seeking soul and have found the right blog for yourself.

Imagine going on an adventurous hike, and all you do is worry about a predator hunting you down. It does not sound like much fun. Luckily, you do not have to worry much as the hikers worldwide tie cowbells around their waist. Cowbells are one of many cautionary actions for the hikers to take. 

Other options include bear sprays, geared hiking poles, and rifle guns. As technology has advanced, mobile devices are also available. These devices tell the hiker’s accurate location to the nearby rescue center.

What are Cowbells?

Cowbells are the bells that farmers tie around farm animals. As these bells ring with movement, the location of a farm animal is revealed. This method has been used for centuries. Over some time, hikers started to wear cowbells.

Advantages of Wearing a Cowbell

There are many reasons why hikers wear cowbells. Among many advantages, a few are listed below that might grab your attention;

To Keep the Predators Away

On the mountainous trails, there are many wildlife animals. Hikers come across bears and lions the most. The animals get startled and may attack the hiker. Being killed on a hike is not a part of anyone’s bucket list. To avoid encountering the wildlife, hikers wear cowbells. 

Their ringing sound is unnatural to the wild beasts and they stay away. These bells have proved successful in scaring away the animals.

In 1982, research was conducted to study the effects of cowbells. Based on the Glacier National Park, the study revealed that cowbells were successful in keeping the grizzly bears away. Hikers with no cowbells encountered more Grizzly bears than the hikers who wore cowbells. 

However, interestingly, people who wore cowbells encountered the Grizzly bears at a closer distance.

To Help Hikers Find Each Other

Getting lost in an unknown place is a frustrating experience. Geolocation devices are now available, but technology has its drawbacks. However, if nothing works, this old-school method may come in handy. Cowbells let the nearby hikers or a rescue team find you via the sound of ringing bells.

To Make Bikers and Drivers Aware of the Hiker’s Presence 

Many hikers choose to camp in their RVs. It is easier and safer, especially at night. Blogs such as yapq may help you find the right vehicle for an adventurous hike. The vehicles are also in the same vicinity as the travelers on foot. The cowbells warn the vehicle riders coming toward the hikers. 

Cowbells may or may not put off wild beasts coming your way, but they definitely work in this case. The ringing bells let the adventurers on wheels know that a hiker is approaching. This reduces collisions and road accidents.

Disadvantages of Using a Cowbell

These bells provide safety but may limit the experience. Mentioned below are a few cons of these bells.

Cowbells May Not be Effective

It is seen that bears ignored these bells and approached the hiker regardless. Recently, a study was carried out by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center. Tom Smith, one of the leading geologists, hid near a popular bear trail. The bells were rung, but bears ignored it as they ignored the birds chirping. 

Interestingly, the bears did respond to the sound of twigs moving or clapping.

Cowbells Reduce all Wildlife Encounters

Coming across small mountainous animals on a hike is an adorable experience. But if a hiker wears cowbells, they push away all animals. This takes away from experience.

Extra Weight 

If you have ever been on a hike, you would understand well how heavy the mountain bag is. It carries food, water, a sleeping bag, and safety kits. For many hikers, a mountain bag is already a heavyweight to carry. Cowbells add to the base weight and may tire a person sooner.

Cowbells May Irritate the Hiker

Imagine going on a hike for peace of mind. But, if you take along a cowbell, the trip might not be too peaceful. There will be a constant bell ring you will hear. After a while, it may get highly frustrating for the hiker to keep up with the cowbell.

Cowbell Irritates Nature

As discussed earlier, the ringing cowbell sound is not natural. This disturbs flora and fauna in the wild. They do not just scare the beasts but also the smaller birds and animals that live in the wild. Any noise which is not natural is discouraged by the wildlife experts. The noise affects plants and animals psychologically. 

Such tools affect the reproductive activity of both plants and animals.

How to Stay Safe Without a Cowbell?

Cowbells are a safety tool. They may provide a layer of safety, but a hiker must not completely rely on them. There are a few other precautions that should be taken.

Hike at Safe Times 

Hiking at dusk, night, or dawn should be avoided. The predators are mostly out, and the lack of sunlight will not work in your favor.

Keep a Bear Spray

Use bear spray, especially in regions with a higher bear population. These sprays are available at stores near hiking sites.

Make a Noise 

Make some noise so that a beast can expect you to come and does not get startled. 

Usually, animals attack when they feel vulnerable if a hiker approaches. They attack to protect their cubs. Making a sound will warn them, and they’ll go away.

Conclusion; To Use Cowbells or Not?

Not much research has been conducted in this regard, and a few studies done are not conclusive- they do not prove anything. The final verdict would be that cowbells are one of many safety precautions.

 They may divert wild beasts away with an unnatural sound. People who are new to the challenging world of hiking should use cowbells. New hikers must also do thorough research (from blogs such as Hike Much and yapq). If a hiker is an expert and knows other precautions well enough, he or she may drop the extra weight.