The following is dedicated to the adventurers that don’t let cold weather, change of seasons, or even the changing of the seasons keep them from exploring the great outdoors. Even if it is raining like a monsoon or snowing so hard they cannot see their own finger right in front of their face, they are outside. There’s nothing stopping these people from having adventures, no matter what the weather is like (to some extent obviously), no matter how cold or wet it is. You can be just as adventurous.
The summer months are slowly turning into autumn, then as soon as they’re gone, winter starts. Can people still hike when the peaks are covered? “Yes!” is the answer! It’s great, so of course they like it. Like any activity, be prepared before you go on a winter hike. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, you need the appropriate gear and knowledge. What you need to know about preparing for a hiking trip in the winter. However, let me tell you something, that mountaineering and hiking are not at all same.
Make sure to check the weather
Checking the weather is the first and most important step in preparing for a winter hike. Make the smart and safe decision and take a raincheck if a big storm is on the radar. Even if we plan well, Mother Nature can certainly throw a kink in our plans and always wins, so don’t be as stubborn as you would like and just do whatever she says.
Bring the right gear
Don’t head out on a hike without the right gear, just as you wouldn’t show up to soccer practice without shin guards and one thing is always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Become prepared, and if you’re lucky, unfortunate events become little more than hiccups in your adventure plans. Pack an extra sweater and dry socks if you have room and make sure you have enough food and liquids to keep your body fueled for the duration of the hike.
The following items should always be in your pack when you plan to go on a hike, regardless of whether it is winter or not:
- Headlamp fully charged
- An adequately stocked first aid kit
- Sufficient amounts of energy-boosting and protein-rich snacks
- More water, more water
- Wear spare layers, like dry socks, gloves, a toque, a packable sweater, etc.
- Working whistles, avalanche equipment, such as probes, transceivers, shovels, etc.
- Ensure your phone is fully charged before you use a spare battery
- There’s some cord or rope
- You’ll need either a pocketknife or Swiss Army knife or a multi-tool
- Protect yourself from the sun and apply lip balm
- Waterproof matches and lighters
- Maps/map books of the area or a compass
While hiking in any weather, dehydration is always a possibility, so you want to drink as much water as possible throughout the hike. During a winter hike, pack a small and light thermos full of hot cocoa or tea along with a small, portable stove and the supplies needed to make it on the go. Enjoy a short but pleasant break and warm yourself up with a warm cup of something sweet.
Knowledge and experience
Although hiking is a fun activity that is accessible to most people, not everyone enjoys it. Make sure you choose experienced friends if you are going on a winter hike together. At any point during your trip, you should have it in the back of your mind that should things go south, so will your friends have your back?
Being an explorer can be exciting and easy, but you need to be aware and educated about potential risks. The best adventure companions can be chosen wisely, as well as the best terrain.
For winter hikes, layers are your best friend
It’s easy to remove layers when you’re too hot, but it can be difficult to get warm once you’ve caught a cold, so dressing in layers is important. There is no such thing as being too cold or too hot.
In order to maintain an equilibrium of body temperature, layers are used. As the day progresses or the weather changes, you will need to add and remove layers as necessary. In the valley, it may be very warm and sunny at the start of the hike, but as you reach the summit, the temperature can drop and clouds can roll in.
As not everyone has a huge hiking pack, packing layers has to be done wisely, but thanks to the outdoor industry for continuously producing new, innovative products, it’s become easier. Almost every manufacturer offers a packable, insulated jacket, whether it is down or synthetic, so the options are endless.
Softshells are an ideal layer for hiking because they are lightweight, flexible, and highly breathable. By doing this, you can get the warmth you need while also getting adequate air flow so you don’t overheat. A waterproof shell should always accompany your softshell, since softshells usually aren’t fully waterproof.
Generally, if you are layering for an outdoor activity, you should start with a moisture-wicking base layer, topped with a softshell jacket and some type of waterproof pants. One of the few insulation layers above (whether it’s down or synthetic) is a good idea to carry daily or to keep in your pack for when it’s needed.
You should keep extra socks, gloves, a toque, a neck warmer, and other essentials in your pack. It might be a good idea to throw in some HotShots too if you tend to get cold hands or cold feet.
Hiking Boots for Winter
It is crucial to wear proper winter footwear when hiking in winter. Make sure your boots are waterproof and well insulated so you won’t be surprised by a frosty surprise at the end of the day. It’s a good idea to wear a wool sock inside your boot during the winter.
In case the terrain becomes extremely icy, it will also be handy to have crampons with you. Before you use crampons for the first time, make sure you practice using them and using them correctly. With this extra knowledge, there will be no unpleasant surprises and the transition will be quicker.
Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew
While hiking in the winter, the days are shorter and you burn more energy so fatigue and lack of daylight are serious issues that must not be ignored. Check the sunrise and sunset times before your hike so you know how much sunlight you will have. If you are doing a hike in the winter, check out the location in the winter to get a feel for it before you go out in the summer. In the winter, it may not be possible to cram that hike into one day if it is a long, tough hike in the summer.
A lot of times, hiking is safer and easier done during the daylight. There will always be those nocturnal adventurers who choose to participate in activities at night rather than during the day, but for the most part, plan your hike while it is still light out. Therefore, you may have needed to start really early in order to complete the hike during daylight hours.
If conditions are unsafe, you should start early and turn around as soon as possible when hiking in winter. When the elements are harsh, it is never safe to risk your life or the lives of others to reach a summit. As mentioned before, Mother Nature cannot be messed with.
Winter Hiking Tips Before You Set Off
Regardless of whether you are heading out for a hike or any other outdoor activity, it is always a good idea to review your gear and plans one last time before you set off. Check that all your gear is working properly and that you have first aid kits and matches on hand before you go for a ride. The most important thing is to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to finish.
If something goes wrong while you’re out in the mountains, you should always let those around you know where you are. If you need a little inspiration, send a quick text to a friend or call your parents right away. Getting the attendant at the little general store you stop at on your way to the mountain to know about it isn’t a bad idea either. The more people who know about your plan, the sooner you will be able to respond if anything goes wrong.
Become familiar with your surroundings before venturing out into the unknown.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How do you stay warm in winter hiking?
We can stay warm in winter hike in the following ways:
Warm Up Inside
Layer Up More
Pack Some Heat
Pack a Snack
Stuff Your Socks
Stay on the Sunny Side
Stay on the Move
Is it safe to hike in the winter?
In the winter months, hiking in or camping in the backcountry can be dangerous, but with proper planning and preparation, you can have an enjoyable winter hike. Winter hiking should never be done alone. There are simply too many potential consequences. Winter brings short daylight hours and early sunsets.
What should I wear hiking in 40 degree weather?
Unless we know the trail will be muddy or there will be several stream crossings, compression pants and shorts are okay to wear if it isn’t too cold (45-60 degrees Fahrenheit). In temperatures above 40 degrees, wear regular compression pants to keep me dry and warm by wicking away perspiration.
What should I wear hiking in the winter?
To know what to wear on a winter hike, you need to check out this video!