Waves, currents, and tides threaten thousands of miles of American
trails (any within a quarter of a mile of a waterway), and hikers can get caught in the barrage. Headland-sculpting, beach-pounding waves can swallow an unwary trekker without so much as a burp. Learn how to recognize, negotiate, and avoid nearshore hazards
On slick trail sections, switch to a soft-soled shoe, which won’t slip across algae-covered rocks. Try Columbia’s amphibious Powerdrain ($95; columbia.com), with a quick-draining mesh upper and sticky rubber sole. Tide Table App
When rounding headlands, a tide table miscalculation can spell disaster. Get an app like AyeTides ($10; ayetides.com), which shows real-time water levels and tidal trends for 10,000 North American locations–and doesn’t require cell coverage. Always bring a watch and tide chart as backup. Handheld Marine Radio
Coastal safety depends on up-to-date forecasts. A five-watt VHF transmitter like the Midland Nautico 3 ($80; midlandradio.com) can monitor NOAA Weather Radio, issue distress calls, and alert you to surprise storms, wildfires, or approaching tsunamis. Pack Liners
Keep dunked gear dry with waterproof protection like Granite Gear’s eVent Sil Ultra-Duty Pack Liners ($44 to $57; granitegear.com) or Sea to Summit’s eVAC Dry Sacks ($18 to $35; seatosummit.com).