Hiking in winter is not for the weak-hearted. Hiking is a complex and dangerous sport that requires some grit and resolve. Combined with the teeth-chattering cold, only a few people are brave enough to venture onto a hiking trail. But those who do are in for a magical and spell-binding treat of beautiful snow-capped mountains. Winter hiking is quite different from summer hiking. A lot of pre-planning is required to handle the gritty weather. The gear and clothes needed for winter hikes are also different. Nevertheless, let’s explore some winter hiking tips for the adventurer in us all.
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It is imperative to wear clothes that will regulate your body’s temperature and keep you warm throughout the hike, like insulated jackets, waterproof shell jackets, and fleece pants. You should use moisture-wicking fabric for the bottom layer. This is necessary to avoid the cold that can arise from sweating. It is also essential to keep the feet warm throughout the hike since they are the first body part where you will feel cold. Wear thick wool socks and above-the-ankle hiking boots. You can also use gaiters to avoid sinking in the snow.
Communication is important
Hiking during the winter is an accident-prone activity. Therefore, it is necessary that someone knows where you are hiking and your expected return date. Walking in groups or at least with one partner is always better. This will allow people to rescue you in case of any untoward incident.
Start early and be prepared
The days in winter are much shorter when compared to summer. So, starting late might get you stuck on the trail in the dark. Starting early can help you avoid this issue. It would be best if you plan your start time based on the difficulty and complexity of the hiking trail. Make sure to take flashlights or headlamps with you in case the visibility is low. This will also help if you take more time than expected to complete the hike. It would be best to keep navigation tools like a compass, a map, and a GPS device with you. These devices will prevent you from getting lost. You should also carry hand warming packets, first aid kits, and emergency gear, including sleeping bags and pads. Make sure to pack extra batteries and keep them warm. Finally, it would help to remember that technological devices like mobile phones malfunction in extreme cold.
Know the weather
The weather during winter can change without notice, which makes hiking during winter highly unpredictable. Therefore, make sure to check the condition of the trail before you start your hike. Look at essential conditions like avalanche reports, wind speed, daylight hours, and precipitation. It is advisable to avoid hiking in the event of heavy snowfall, low visibility, or strong winds.
Food and drink
Winter hiking is laborious, and you may feel hungry and thirsty faster than usual. Pack winter snacks like granola bars, pumpkin seeds, and protein bars to keep you going through the day. A protein-packed and nutritious meal is best suited for the hike. Also, choose snacks that you can eat without stopping.
It is also crucial to keep yourself hydrated during the hike. Keep your bottle wrapped in a beanie or socks to prevent it from getting cold. Depending on your taste, you can also take a thermos filled with a warm drink like coffee, tea, or cocoa. You can also take soup broth with you to have a filling drink. The warm drink will keep you hydrated and warm. It is best to avoid alcohol during winter hikes.
Know when to turn back
Safety is paramount when you are hiking. If you encounter some adverse conditions like solid winds, heavy snowfall, or low visibility, it is best to turn back to avoid fatal accidents. Likewise, if the surface is too slippery and you are getting exhausted trying to hike through the snowy surface, it is advisable to stop the hike and turn back. Remember that you can always walk another day when the conditions are better and safer.
Hike in the sunshine
Summer hiking is all about avoiding the hot blazing sun, but winter hiking is the opposite. In winter, it is best to hike when the sun is shining, and it is the warmest. Since temperatures can drop drastically during the evening, it is better to complete the hike early. Time your hike so that you have sunshine for the entire time.
Hiking is one of the best adventure sports that will allow you to be physically active while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Following some tips to ensure warm and comfortable hiking in winter, you can safely immerse yourself in the beauty of the snow-capped mountain peaks. However, besides enjoying the hike, it is essential to consider the dangerous conditions during winter and take appropriate measures to ensure your safety.