You need high-quality gear and well-reasoned tactics to make it through a winter hiking trip. Whether you stay the night outdoors or not, you must do your best to stay safe. Here are the best cold weather hiking tips.
Deciding on your clothing is the first essential step in your hiking journey. When outside, the things you wear determine how warm and dry you stay, especially amid winter's cold wetness. Instead of bringing a variety of clothing items, plan ahead and avoid the temptation to cram your clothes into your hiking pack last minute.
Dress in Layers
Layers are the key to safe winter excursions, so pay attention to what you bring. Before you start folding and shoving, take stock of your clothes. Do you have several useable layers? Will you have clean clothes to wear for each day of your hike? Questions like these are vital for every traveler to consider before setting out.
For your innermost layer, you will want a water-wicking material that will keep your sweat away from your skin. Moist skin transforms annoying winter wind into bone-chilling gusts, so find a material that protects your body. Your middle layers should include items that focus on building and retaining heat, such as sweaters and fleeces. These will come in handy as you warm up and remove layers during the hike. The outer coat must hold heat in, but more importantly, keep everything else out. This layer is the one thing standing between you and the winter world. You will want water and wind-resistant material that keeps your other layers from becoming wet or cool.
Cover Your Extremities
Beware the unnecessary hodgepodge and take your time with your packing; you don't want to forget the accessories that keep the rest of your body warm. When exposed to the outdoor elements, your sensitive areas need protection. Your head, hands, and feet are all at high risk for frostbite, so ensure your extremities have protection. Protect your eyes, nose, cheeks, and ears with a warm hat and a pair of sunglasses or goggles.
You should avoid bringing tight clothing that restricts your blood flow. In the winter, your body moves slower, and your blood vessels constrict due to the frigid temperatures. Your body will already have a hard time keeping your extremities warm. Remember to find clothes that allow for ample room where you can shoulder a pack or take long strides up a mountainside incline.
Every hiker knows that their supplies lead to a successful trip. Though you must balance frugality with comfort, there are a few winter essentials to bring along.
Keep Your Water Warm
We all need water to survive, especially when sweating and expending energy. But you might hike through sub-freezing temperatures that will surely transform your drinking water into ice. Avoid this common problem with a simple solution—a thermos. These insulated bottles allow you to store warm items without them losing heat.
There aren’t many things that taste as rejuvenating as warm water on a long, cold hike. Along with the amusing sensation, this little bit of warmth also raises your body temperature. This little boost of heat may be just what you need if you feel the cold coming through your clothes.
Bring a Thick Sleeping Bag
When you sleep, your body goes into a mode of lower functioning. Your brain is always thinking, but your body slows its functions, including heart rate. This is a good and healthy thing, but it can cause problems when sleeping outside during the winter. You must have a thick sleeping bag that will protect you from the biting wind all night long when your body is at its most vulnerable.
When you hike through the snow up a hill under the wintry sun, your heart is pumping hard and your body heat is building fast. At night, though, you don't move a muscle for several hours at a time, meaning your whole body cools down. You'll need a sleeping bag that can preserve your body heat and keep you insulated from the cold outside. Be sure to check the sleeping bag's temperature rating and compare it with the average nightly weather.
Cold weather hiking isn't all about what you bring with you; it’s also about how you go on your hike. Be sure to reconfigure your hiking methods to suit your chilly environment.
Track the Day
The days are shorter in winter, which means the sun sets earlier. Though you still get sunshine during the day, the night can sneak up on you. If you're camping out in the cold, be sure to find adequate shelter or set up camp before it grows too dark. In the wintertime, the nighttime cold can drop considerably below daytime temperatures.
You should also track your day according to the sun. If you expect to maintain your typical hiking pace, think again. Winter trekking takes much longer than summer hikes due to the snow and cold. When you must lift your legs higher to trudge through an inch or more of snow and your body is fighting the cold for hours on end, your stamina will falter. Expect to complete shorter routes than usual.
Keep up Your Calories
Hiking already expends many calories due to physical activity. The winter only adds to this intensity. The snow and the cold temperature force your body to work harder when hiking. You must burn more energy to create more internal heat. You need to eat more often during winter hikes than at other times. Consider bringing snacks you can eat without stopping, like granola bars. These small snacks pack a lot of energy into a few bites that can feed your momentum through the snow.
Remember the best cold weather hiking tips as you pack and set out on your adventure. If you need warmer clothes or better supplies, peruse our selection at Tyler's. The next time you go out for a fun parent-son excursion, you can get boys outerwear to keep your child safe.