Imagine you’re ready to tackle that epic winter camping trip you’ve been planning for months. You know the basics of staying warm, but lack in-depth knowledge of how to hike safely in cold weather conditions.
If you’re an avid hiker, winter time doesn’t have to mean curling up in front of a fire. Instead, bundle up and hit the trails! Here are 7 tips for cold weather hiking and safety so you can get out and enjoy nature even when temperatures start to dip.
1. Invest in the Proper Clothing and Gear
Having the right gear and clothing can make a cold weather hike more enjoyable, as well as safer. Make sure you have warm layers, waterproof boots, a hat and gloves or mittens, trail gaiters and insulated socks – all of which will help provide warmth and protect from the elements.
2. Check the Conditions Before You Go
It’s always important to check the conditions of a trail before you set off on a hike, but this is especially true in winter months. Make sure there isn’t predicted bad weather that could make your hike more difficult or dangerous. Additionally, check for snow and ice on the trail and make sure you’re prepared for that.
3. Let Someone Know Where You’ll Be Going
It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you plan to hike and when they can expect you back, especially when hiking in cold weather. This way, if something happens, help can be sent.
4. Stay Hydrated and Fueled Up
It’s easy to neglect hydration in cold weather, but it is still important to stay hydrated while you’re out on the trail. Just like during a summer hike, make sure you bring plenty of water or other hydrating drinks and snacks to keep your energy levels up.
5. Take Breaks and Pay Attention to Your Body
Cold weather can make a hike more difficult and challenging, so don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need them. Additionally, pay attention to your body – if you start to feel tired or cold, it could be time to turn back.
6. Avoid Slippery Trails
Especially in winter months, trails can be slippery and icy, making them dangerous to navigate. If you see any significant ice on the trail, it’s best to turn around and find another route that is safer for you. Otherwise, you can use traction devices such as crampons or microspikes to make the trail safer:
- Crampons – fit over boots and provide additional grip on ice and snow
- Microspikes – provide similar traction to crampons, but in a lightweight form
7. Bring Adequate Lighting
In winter, the days are shorter, so it’s more likely that you’ll be out after dark. Make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries just in case you need them on your hike.
By following these tips for cold weather hiking and safety, you can stay safe while enjoying time outdoors this winter. So, bundle up and hit the trail!