Hiking In Colder Climates: 6 Things You Need For Safety And Comfort
Hiking is a fun pastime that can help you stay fit and connect with nature. If you plan to go hiking during the winter, it is vital that you prepare properly and ensure your safety. There are some hazards that cold weather hiking presents that you should be ready for, and you will need to dress and pack appropriately. You also need to prepare yourself physically – hiking can be strenuous, so you need to train for it!
This article will explore some of the most important things you need to stay safe and comfortable while hiking in cold weather.
Wear Plenty Of Layers
You should ensure you have plenty of layers on before you set out. A good rule of thumb is to include a base layer, middle layer and outer layer. You can then remove clothing as you get warmer with exertion and add it back on less challenging parts of the hike. It is best to choose clothes that are designed with hiking in mind. This can ensure that you don’t get too sweaty or uncomfortable during your hike.
Start And End Your Hike In Daylight
Unless you are an experienced and adventurous hiker, it is best to start and finish a winter hike during daylight hours. You should check ahead of time when sunset and sunrise are. Temperatures can drop significantly after sunset, and hiking in darkness can present a range of hazards. Plan your hike around the sunlight hours, and don’t be afraid to cut your hike short if you’re concerned about getting back before sunset.
Invest In A Warm Outer Layer
Your outer layer is the one that will protect you from the elements, keeping you warm and dry. You should invest in a quality outer layer that will offer the best protection. There are plenty of outer layers to choose from, so it can help to do some research to find the right fit.
When you’re hiking at altitude, the weather can change with a moment’s notice, so it’s very important to have versatile clothing. Staying dry when it’s cold outside is vital!
Bring Snacks And Water
You will find that you burn more calories on a cold-weather hike compared to a warm-weather one. You should prepare for this by bringing healthy snacks. Energy bars and trail mix can be a nutritious, lightweight option to help keep you fueled on your hike.
Hydration is key to health and physical stamina (and keeping your mental wits about you too!), so be sure to bring plenty of water with you on your winter hike. Staying hydrated when hiking in the winter can be especially challenging, because we tend to not feel as thirsty as we do when it’s hot outside. So drink up, especially if you’re at higher altitudes!
Check The Weather Forecast Before You Leave
The weather in winter can be unpredictable. You should plan your hike for a day that has good weather forecast, and check that forecast again before you set out in case of sudden changes. While you’re out, ensure you keep an eye on the sky and know the signs of a storm or other adverse weather. Weather forecasts are an imprecise science, so be alert for unexpected weather.
Turn Back If Conditions Get Hazardous
If conditions get hazardous on your hike, don’t be afraid to turn back. Winter weather can be treacherous, and it is better to be safe than sorry. If you feel unsafe or uncertain about the path ahead for any reason, consider turning back rather than pushing onwards.
If you’re hiking at a state or national park, always check in at the ranger station before you head out. Ask about any known trail hazards, and let them know what trail you’ll be on and approximately when you expect to be back. Safety first!
Train For Hiking – Prepare Yourself Physically
You’ll enjoy your hikes a lot more if you’re in good physical shape, so you should train your body for hiking. Work with your personal trainer on endurance, strength, flexibility, and agility:
- Endurance lets you go farther and longer without getting tired or sore.
- Strength helps you climb steep hills, navigate difficult obstacles, and carry your gear, food, and water.
- Flexibility helps prevent injuries, and avoids cramps and overuse problems that could cut your hike short.
- Agility gets you over fallen trees, rocks, and streams. Improves your balance and prevents sprained ankles or falls that can result in broken bones.
So get with a personal trainer from Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition, and prepare yourself for winter hiking!