Winter can’t stop you from backpacking, and in fact, if you get over the whole “freezing cold” thing, it can actually be quite a pleasant time of year to take a trip. There are fewer tourists, meaning that you get to observe the culture in a more slice-of-life kind of way; the air is brisk and clean, and accommodation tends to cost less. But lurking behind all of these pros is still that pesky con: it’s often cold, which means that you have to pack more.
That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, though, and with a few wise packing moves, you can ensure that you have everything you need for your winter backpacking excursion without being too weighed down. Three tips that will help you have a better experience while backpacking in the winter. Take a look at my top tips for backpacking.
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1. Be Prepared For Extreme Cold
Even if the place you’re going to is known for being a little milder, it’s still good practice to prepare for the coldest it could possibly be. That starts with choosing the right clothes for winter – insulating clothes that resist sweat and can be worn for a long time without getting dirty. Merino wool clothing is perfect for this: it insulates; it wicks sweat, and it can be worn for a long time. Additionally, when you wear merino wool as a base layer, you won’t sweat buckets when you head inside a heated hotel or restaurant, because besides being insulating, it’s also breathable in warm climates.
You don’t need very many Merino wool pieces either, since they stay fresh for so long – just a merino wool t-shirt, and a couple of pairs of high-quality wool underwear and socks. You’ll also need an outer layer: a coat, some gloves, a scarf and a hat of some kind. Wear these items on the plane (or at least as you board the plane) to avoid having to stuff them in your luggage. You can always take these accessories off when you get on the plane, and stow them under the seat or use them as a pillow.
2. Carry The Right Gear
You already know that Merino wool clothing for adventurers is an absolute must, but next, you need to pack the right gear. A couple of must-haves, especially if you’re backpacking on a shoestring, are dry shampoo and good batteries. The dry shampoo helps in case you’re staying at a place where the hot water isn’t working. Theoretically, you should always have access to warm water in the winter, but it doesn’t always pan out that way, and starting your cold day off with a cold shower can be soul-sucking. For those emergency occasions, you should carry dry shampoo, even if it’s something you pick up while you’re there.
As for the batteries, you’re going to want to switch over to lithium batteries in the winter, as standard alkaline batteries are notoriously lousy in the cold. If you have any electronics that take batteries, make sure to opt for lithium. But again, that’s something you can probably pick up when you get to your destination.
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Finally: keep moisturized. Nothing can sully an otherwise fun trip quite like dry, irritated, chafing skin. Keep that chopstick in your back pocket at all times, and, no matter how weird you feel when you do it, put some lotion on at night. Keeping your skin moisturized is one of those things that just elevates your mood instantly.
There you have it: carry with you a few, choice, insulating clothing items; make sure you stock the right gear in case you get into an inconvenient situation; and keep your skin from drying out. With a few precautions taken, the winter can be the best possible time to travel.