The following article will help readers to understand the safety tips included in winter hiking along with understanding the essentials for winter hiking such as the need for winter hiking gear that will help you enjoy the trip.
While it may be true that winter is the season for hibernation for bears, it need not be true for humans. To make winter fun you can now go on with winter hiking. While this might sound like you need to suffer cold waves and hike your way through them, it’s not the case if you’ve got the right winter hiking gear to keep you safe from the cold. It is even more beautiful to hike during the winter as the landscape turns out quite different from the landscape you observe during the summer days. If you are looking for a guide to help you get on a safe winter hike then this article will help you understand all the precautions and tips you need to keep yourself safe during hikes.
10 Essential Tips for Winter Hiking
If you’d also like to become a pro at winter hiking then here are 10 essential tips that you can use while hiking up a heap of snow.
Check The Weather And Trail Conditions Beforehand
One of the most important aspects, when you plan a winter hike, is to check the weather before you plan your trip. This is because there can be abrupt changes that can occur which can affect the hiking trail and can cause quite a lot of risk while hiking through the track. Hence it is best to check the weather while also going through the trail once beforehand so that you’re familiar with the tracks.
Stay Hydrated At All Times
Cold weather can tend to either freeze out your water bottle or might lower the water temperature. It is hence recommended to carry an insulated bottle that will help you carry hot water. It is also equally mandatory to keep you warm and hydrated throughout the hike to keep up the energy. If you do not have an insulated bottle for your hike then you can either use an old sock or a cloth to wrap around the bottle to keep it warm during low temperatures.
Pack The Right Winter Hiking Gear
It is quite important to understand the right winter hiking gear and how to get them. Selecting the right bag, jacket, and shoes will make quite a big difference when hiking. Keeping yourself warm should be one of the main criteria when choosing the gear. You can start by wearing a good base layer and then layering it with a fleece jacket which will add on as a middle layer. Lastly a button-down jacket can be added to provide insulation to your body. While hiking, softshell pants are one of the best to select from as they help insulate your body heat which protects you from the snow or cold winds. You might also want to carry along an extra set of gloves, woolen hats, and socks.
Insulate Your Water / Bring a Warm Beverage
Keeping yourself hydrated in cold water will be necessary however drinking cold water may lead to you falling sick. It is hence recommended to carry along with you an insulated water bottle that can hold the hotness of the water for a while. You might also want to make sure you bring along a hot beverage such as coffee or tea to enjoy during the tea. This will not only keep you warm but will also provide the energy you need to complete the hike.
Pack Snacks For Your Winter Hike
To keep hiking during the cold weather you need to ensure you have consumed twice the number of calories you normally intake. For the same purpose, you’d need to pack some highly nutritious protein-filled meals such as protein bars, granola bars, or even organic pumpkin seeds that will keep you energized throughout the hike.
Stay Informed Of Any Possible Hazards While Hiking
Winter hiking can be accompanied by a lot of unexpected situations. In order to face such situations, you might want to keep a check on any possible hazards that have previously been encountered by other hikers. One of the best ways to check any sort of complications during the hike would be to:
Ensuring you are familiar with the trail pass or area
Learning how to utilize a map or compass before you go on a hike. This will help you keep a track of the trail.
Checking the weather even when you are just about to go out for a hike. If there is any indication of dangerous conditions you will be aware by keeping a check.
You might also want to keep a close family member or your friend informed regarding your trip which will help them look out for you or easily locate you when you are going out.
Make Sure Your Feet Are Always Warm
Keeping your feet warm throughout the hike becomes important. Hence you need to make sure you pack quite a few good pairs of socks that will keep away the moisture from the skin. You might also want such socks that will insulate the heat in your feet keeping your feet warm. The ones that quickly dry when wet will also be an important characteristic to look at. A pair of gaiters would be an ideal match to keep you from sinking while hiking through snow.
Hike When The Sun Is Out
While during summer you might look for a time when the sun is not out, however it is quite the opposite when going on a winter hiking adventure. You might want to soak up as much sun as possible during a winter hike as it will help you keep warm throughout and also help you enjoy the hike. It is highly advised that winter hikes be planned in such a way that they begin by morning and end by evening because when the sun sets there tends to be a drop in the temperature which can make hiking back harder.
Make Sure You Carry Navigation Devices
While hiking you must always carry a navigational device that will help you navigate easily. It can either be a GPS device, a smartphone, or a compass or map which will indicate the right directions throughout the trail. This becomes important as you can finish off, you’re hiking without having to waste a lot of time or getting lost.
Turn Around When You Need To
Putting yourself first and making sure you are safe is quite important. If you feel that you cannot go any further during the hike, you can feel free to turn around and go back to the base. This is especially important when the weather is not coordinating with you the way you had expected. In some cases, the snow trails tend to be quite exhausting and can hence lead to tire you out easily. In such cases, you need to stop pushing forward and take a step back.
Hypothermia is caused by your body’s temperature going below its normal temperature. Hypothermia is such a condition that can be life-threatening and hence needs to be taken seriously. Common signs of mild hypothermia would be shivering. Slow thinking, clumsiness, or confusion. Whereas severe hypothermia conditions can be understood with the help of signs such as an undetectable pulse, deterioration of mental status, or intense shivering. Especially during colds, it is important to know all about hypothermia and how to keep yourself warm to combat it.
Tips for Choosing Winter Hiking Gear for Cold-Weather Hiking
Investing in the right winter hiking gear tends to be important as it helps you keep warm during the cold harsh weather. Apart from this, you can also enjoy the hike without having to worry about being sick due to the weather.
To keep a direction of the way in which you are going you will need to carry either a map or a compass or a GPS device. For a good GPS device that will help you throughout the hike you can check out the 50 multi-purpose whistle and orienteering compass – blue which will consist of the following features:
4-in-1 tool including whistle, thermometer, magnifying glass, and a compass
Provides high precision of the location and hence shows the right direction
Can be used easily and comes along with a carabiner to tag it anywhere.
How to use it:
You need to keep the compass flat to detect the magnetic north correctly. You can either keep it on a flat surface or you can keep it in the palm of your hand.
Precautions while using the compass:
You might want to keep the device away from a magnetic source such as high voltage power lines or mobile phones or metal objects as it can lose its magnetic properties when in contact for longer times.
Price: Rs. 599/-
2. Appropriate Footwear
Looking for the right footwear that will help you hike during winter is of utmost importance. You might want to invest in good pair of footwear that will help you not only warm but also save you from moisture. The following options can be used for a better hiking experience.
The women’s waterproof mountain Hiking Shoes - MH100 Mid -Khaki has a cushioning effect that helps the hiker to stay in comfort throughout the hike. Especially it being lightweight allows you to hike easily without getting tired. You can also select the shoes based on your walking frequency and intensity with three categories being laid out such as:
Occasional hiking: Going on about 10 hikes per year with about 3 to 4 hours each hike.
Regular hiking: About 20 hikes per year with 4 to 6 hours per hike
Intensive hike: Going on more than 20 hikes per year with more than 6 hours during each hike.
The men's mountain hiking shoes MH100 Grey is a shoe made up of yarn dyed in such a way that it does not impact environmental conditions. While dyeing needs a lot of water which can be considered environmental waste. The fabric used in shoes hence undergoes a pigmentation process that is environment friendly. The grip of the shoes is also certified via various tests conducted on smooth, rugged, dry, and wet surfaces. This ensures that the soles provide a great grip throughout the hike.
The kids’ Warm Waterproof Hiking Boots SH100 Warm Leather Laces Size 2.5 – 5 apart from being waterproof provides warmth and a snuggly fit which keeps the feet quite comfortable throughout the trip. With a number of thermal tests being conducted on the shoes proves that the shoes can keep the feet warm up to a temperature of -4 degree Celsius. Apart from being a good thermal option, these shoes are also quite breathable to wear and walk in.
Sizes available: UK 2.5 to UK 5
MRP: Rs 4,999/-
3. Extra Water (Also water purification system)
Carrying a small bottle can prove to be too little especially if you are planning to go on a long winter hike. It is hence advised to carry extra water bottles with great insulation to keep the water hot for longer periods. The following might be a great option.
The isothermal Mug MH500 Stainless Steel 0.38L – Khaki can be a great option if you are more accustomed to drinking water from a mug. With big bottles comes bigger opening which might make it hard to drink through bottles. The isothermal Mug MH500 Stainless Steel 0.38L – Khaki provides a great way to keep your drink warm while also providing ease to drink through it. The double rust-proof wall provides safety to your lips and hands while sipping through the mug.
The isothermal Insulated Bottle 0.7 L Stainless steel – Black provides a great option to carry hot water without losing its thermal properties for longer periods. There is also an attached cup screwed onto the bottle for easy transport. With zero BPA in the bottle, it is an eco-friendly option to choose from.
Weight: 450 grams
Dimension: 8.3 cm X 26.4 cm
Available capacities: 0.4 L/ 0.7 L/ 1 L/ 1.5 L
MRP: Rs. 1,299/-
4. Extra Food
Winter makes most people hungrier than usual. It is hence needed that your intake twice the number of calories than your use. This will allow your body to be kept warm while also providing the energy needed for a long winter hike.
5. Rain Gear & Extra Clothing
In winter you can expect snowfall near the area where you are going for your hike. It is hence advised to carry rain gear along with some extra clothing that you might want to change into if there’s any incident that takes place.
Some shoes might not provide the grip you need on snow or some terrains might be extra slippery leading to injuries. To avoid such a situation, it is highly recommended to use the adult Snow Crampons - SH100 - S TO XL that will provide an extra grip even on very slippery trails due to its spiky texture.
To protect your kids from cold it is recommended to use the Kids’ Fleece Hiking Gloves - SH100 - 4-14 Years which will help keep their hands warm and safe from frostbite. The fleece material present in the gloves will trap air. This air acts as a natural insulator that will keep the body warm. It is available at an MRP of Rs. 299/-
Wet gloves can lead to cold hands which in turn might make you fall sick. It is hence recommended that you use the waterproof warm gloves - Simond cascade light that will protect your hand from getting wet from the snow.
Women Trekking Hooded Padded Jacket - MT100 -5°C Turquoise provides great insulation to your body hence keeping it warm for a long time. This padded jacket is also perfect for a temperature of about -5 degrees Celsius. Even though it might not be that thick there is string insulation property within the padded jacket while also remaining lightweight. Even when it gets wet, it can easily retain warmth.
The men's Warm Water-Repellent Hiking Trousers - SH100 ULTRA-WARM is specifically curated for the winter hiking season. Its fleece content protects the skin from the cold due to the air trapped inside which provides great insulation. The water-repellent property makes it easier to walk through the ice without having to get wet or feel cold.
The Men's Hiking Fleece Sleeveless Jacket MH120 is a great addition to your closet for winter hiking. This fleece jacket can serve as a boundary even during temperatures between 7 to 10 degrees Celsius without having to add in a padded jacket. With high durability, this fleece jacket has been curated in Mont Blanc, France with utmost care.
It is important that you save yourself from snow and hence the Men’s Waterproof Winter Hiking Jacket - SH100 Warm -5°C Waterproof – Blue provides the same purpose of waterproofing. The jacket has a design that keeps out both wind and water and hence making it comfortable for the wearer to wear for hours. There is also an additional warm hood along with two warm pockets to save your cold hands.
The Women’s Waterproof Winter Hiking Jacket - SH100 WARM -5°C is tested for its waterproof ability along with its capability to withstand both wind and water. There are also taped main seams which makes them airtight and hence not allowing the water to enter through these areas. There are also two lined pockets to keep your stuff safe.
Size: XS to 3XL
MRP: Rs. 2,999/-
6. Fire Starting Equipment, Light (headlamp with extra batteries is best), whistle
You might find it hard to light a fire in the snow, especially with the drop in temperature. However, the following gadgets might help start a fire. The headlamps can also provide great vision if there’s a lot of fog due to the temperature.
Carrying around a torch in your hand can seem a bit tough especially when you need balance during your winter hike. It is hence recommended to use the Battery Head Torch - 80 lumen - ONNIGHT 100 which will provide a great way to turn on lights without having to hold them throughout the hike. It is operated on 3 LR03- AAA batteries which are supplied with the light. The standard LED lighting is also quite bright not only during the day but also during night time allowing you to see clearly.
In case there are no lights on the hiking trail, the Dynamo Hiking Torch 300 Waterproof 35 Lumens which is small and very convenient to hold can come in handy. This torch has a narrow illumination range which concentrates on the light being charged. The outer plastic body of the torch is also designed in such a way that it can easily withstand multiple falls during the hike. The torch can be availed for Rs. 999/-
The CAMPING LAMP - BL200 RECHARGEABLE - 200 LUMENS has a battery life of 2500 milliamps which makes it a great option for usage through long hikes. If you’d like to charge the lamp during your camp you can use a micro USB port to charge it. You can use recharge it by using a power socket, a car cigarette lighter, or any other standard USB port. One of the added advantages is that you can also use a solar panel to charge your lamp. This lamp is available for Rs. 2,799/-
Carrying extra batteries throughout the trip is important as it can come in handy at any point in time. Using the AA Batteries x4 you can ensure that you already have additional backup batteries for any of your battery-backed-up devices.
7. First Aid Kit
You must keep a first aid kit during your hike as there might be some other unexpected incidents that may occur. Some of the essentials while packing your first aid kit includes the following:
Dressing pads, adhesive tapes
While it is good to soak in Vitamin D from the sun, it is still important to carry a good sunscreen for hiking which will provide a good layer of protection against the UV rays.
Carry along good sunglasses to save your eyes from extreme sunlight that will damage your eyes. Carrying polycarbonate lenses that are suitable for outdoor sports will be a great option. The Adult Hiking Sunglasses Cat 3 MH140 Blue is not only lightweight and also provides good stability and coverage.
Carrying all the essentials in your backpack can tend to be a bit problematic. It is hence recommended to use the Hiking Backpack 40 Liter MH100 – Grey which provides a great way to segregate the products and hence makes it easier to pick things out of the bag. The bag can be availed at Rs. 4,999/-
11. Extra things that one must carry.
Apart from all of the essential items, you will need to carry some of the extra things such as follows:
For good mountain hiking support, it is recommended to use the Anti-Shock Mountain Hiking Pole 500 Grey which will provide extra support throughout the hike. With the help of the pole, it is possible to check for any bumps that you could stumble upon. While a lot of people only need a single pole, most prefer to use a pair to keep stability. The mountain hike pole can be availed for Rs. 2,999/-
In case you find that your camping kit has been broken and you’d like to fix your kit, then the Camping Fiberglass Tent-Pole Kit For Tents - 0.85mm Diameter can come in handy. With ease of use, the poles can be used to fix for camping.
Weight: 654 grams
Dimension: 5 m length, 8.5 mm diameter
MRP: Rs. 999/-
While winter hiking is sure fun and you need to go on one at least once in your lifetime, it is also essential that you check all the safety tips and keep a check of the things you need to carry in order to be prepared for any circumstances. With safety being put first you can easily go on a winter hiking trip with your family to enjoy a great getaway!