Hiking in the snow can be an exhilarating experience if you know how to be well-prepared for it. Whether the climate abruptly changed after you’d booked your hiking trip, or whether you want to try out the experience of making first tracks in 7 inches of snow, we’ve got you covered.
Of course, hiking in this kind of weather comes with its own set of hazards that you need to be aware of before you head outside, but if you know what you’ll be up for and pack everything you need, your journey will be a breeze. Here’s what you need to know.
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Tips For a Winter Hike
It goes without saying that the first essential step on your list should be properly layering up from head to toe. Your goal should be completely insulating your skin from the harsh weather so you can stay warm and energetic throughout your hike. You need to wear at least three layers of thick material, ideally wool. Avoid baggy clothes and opt for tight-fitting sweaters that won’t allow the cold breeze to sneak through your attire.
On top of your wool or fleece clothing, put on a water-resistant coat with a hood that can keep your head and ears warm. The coat should be a little oversized to accommodate the layers underneath it without making you feel suffocated. If you don’t have any turtle-necks, it’s best to wear a thick scarf underneath your coat and to secure it well, so it doesn’t get in your way.
Keep Your Gear Handy
Hiking gear includes everything from camping essentials to clothing accessories that keep you warm. If you don’t already own one, browse the best winter hiking hats you can find in the market and pack an extra one in case the one you’re wearing gets soaked. If this is your first hike, it’s best to avoid camping overnight and to start your journey early and return to your base camp or cabin before the sunsets.
However, if you plan to camp on the snow-covered hills, you need to pack a water-proof tent and sleeping bag. Further, you’ll want to take a couple of matchboxes and practice starting a fire at your base camp. You should ideally practice with the help of an expert camper.
Because you’ll be walking for long miles ahead, you need to pack plenty of water with you, at least 3 liters of water per person for the day. If you’re not used to drinking this amount of liquids, you may have to make several stops throughout the hike to relieve yourself. Avoid plastic bottles and always keep an insulated water bottle with a secure lid in the side pockets of your water-proof backpack for easier reach.
Don’t Stop Munching
Instead of eating a hearty meal before your journey, grab something light, and pack plenty of high-calorie snacks with you. This includes nuts, keto energy balls, beef jerky, dark chocolate, and protein bars. While you don’t want to overwhelm your digestive system with heavy meals, you still need to keep your energy levels high throughout your trip to keep your body warm in the harsh weather. Avoid eating any sandwiches or anything that you would normally eat at a picnic.
Avoid the Shade
While you’d normally seek shade while hiking on a warm day, you’re going to have to avoid it on your winter hike. Always follow tracks where the sun rays can keep your body temperature stable and help your extremities stay warm to prevent frostbites. With that in mind, you’ll also want to lather high SPF sunscreen on your exposed skin. No matter how cold it is in the great outdoors, reapply your sunscreen every 3 hours to keep your skin protected and to avoid getting sunburnt from the direct sunlight.
Before you set out for your winter hike, make sure to double-check the weather forecast, and to be prepared if there could be rainfall. Snow hiking is safe as long as there are no blizzard storms or heavy rainfall that could potentially put your health at risk. You need to make sure that you’re completely layered up and warm, and if it gets too cold mid-way, make sure you eat plenty of your packed snacks and stay hydrated. If this is your first time hiking in the winter, it’s best to leave in the early morning and return before dawn. However, if you’re planning to stay overnight, make sure you pack matches and learn how to start a fire at your base camp before you set out on your trip. With these tips in mind, you can safely enjoy your winter hike!