Cold Weather Hiking Tips from Experts: Everything You Need to Know
by Emily Jannet on Feb 07, 2023
Hiking in cold weather is different from the summer time hiking. This is a whole new experience and sometimes a challenging adventure. However, proper preparation, clothing and gear can help you enjoy winter trails and get rid of those daunting thoughts on what you should do if you get cold. Here are some expert tips on how to prepare for an enjoyable winter adventure and protect yourself from cold weather and other potential hazards.
Cold Weather Hiking Preparation Tips
1. Thorough planning and preparation are the key to success!
Winter hiking starts at home. First, decide what trail you’re going to explore and check whether it is open. Study the route! Make sure that you have an alternative plan to escape an avalanche. Next, check the weather forecast not to get trapped in heavy snowstorms or winds. Remember that however good the weather seems, it may change very quickly!
2. Make a checklist of what to wear and bring hiking
When hiking in winter, you need high-quality winter clothes and footwear specifically designed for extreme weather conditions. These should be water-resistant and insulated. Never opt for cotton or denim. You should rely on the 3-layer system for cold weather hiking: base layer, thermal mid layer, and outer layer.
Remember to take sunglasses as winter sunshine may be especially tough on your eyes. Do not wear too many pairs of socks as this results in poor blood flow and cold feet. Instead, choose quality merino wool or coolmax socks.
You might also want to consider using zip ties not to take your gloves off to unzip your pockets. In addition, it’s important to take a spacious backpack and emergency supplies, such as a first-aid kit, waterproof flint fire starter, a whistle, hand warmers, and a down jacket repair kit. Take extra batteries. It is recommended to use lithium batteries as they perform better in low temperatures. Once you set off, try to keep them warm.
3. Hydration is key
Although you’re not expecting yourself to be sweating as much as in summer, remember that dehydration causes hypothermia. Therefore, try to drink water every 10-20 minutes during your hike. Learn how to prevent water from freezing. For winter hiking, a plastic bottle is preferred to a stainless steel one.
4. Take high-calorie snacks
You should focus on nuts, seeds, nut butter, protein bars, cookies, granola. Take more food than you think you’ll need. Do not stop to take a full meal not to lose body heat.
When On the Trail: a Brief Reminder
- Use a compass and a printed map not to get lost
- Cover your skin
- Sip water every 10-20 minutes
- Wear sunglasses
- Take enough food
Hopefully, these tips will make your hiking experience as safe as possible and you’ll enjoy completing such an expedition.