Winter hiking has its own charm. In winter, the forest and mountains are incredibly beautiful – the snow shines in the sun, the air is fresh and clean, and it’s quiet and peaceful all around. So, winter hiking gear traveling will help you relax even better than calm casino games and meditation.
Pros and Cons of Winter Hiking
There are benefits to winter hiking:
- Contrary to expectations, it’s not cold to go camping in the winter, as long as you go it’s warm, as long as you’re dressed for the weather.
- Winter is cleaner, there is no mud underfoot, and winter hiking gear is clean white snow all around.
- Winter hiking is less popular, so the likelihood that you will meet crowds of tourists is lower.
- In summer, it’s harder to get drinking water – rivers and springs can dry up.
- Winter hikes help to cheer up, get out of hibernation, and bring bright colors to life.
But it’s worth remembering the disadvantages:
- To be warm, you either have to move, or warm yourself by the fire, or stay in a tent in a warm sleeping bag.
- Winter hiking gear and clothing for winter camping weighs more and costs more.
- Winter hikes are more extreme, beginners should go on such hikes without an overnight stay.
What Is Important in Winter Hiking
Decide on the duration: for a one-day hike, a small backpack is enough, and in a hike of two days, it is important to take a warm sleeping bag and the right tent.
Think Ahead of Time Route and Destination
In summer, you can travel by changing the route easily during the hike. If you didn’t get to the place you wanted, you can spend the night almost anywhere. In winter it gets dark early, it’s easy to get lost and freeze. Be sure to stick to the planned route: go to the finishing point or set up camp before sunset, winter hiking gear gets very cold when it gets dark!
Check the Weather Forecast
Check the weather on several websites. Be prepared for a variety of surprises from rain to blizzards to poor visibility, dress for the weather.
Dress for winter camping warmly, but wisely. Use the principle of layering. On top there should be a thin thermal jacket, fleece, or wind-proof jacket. On the bottom – thin underpants and waterproof warm pants. For legs – comfortable warm boots with water-repellent coating.
As long as you’re going under the backpack, winter hiking gear won’t be cold, it’s comfortable in a thin jacket. For parking take a warm down jacket (natural or synthetic) or a spare warm jacket.
For sleeping in the tent take wool socks, warm underwear and a hat.
In winter, it’s hard to dry wet clothes. In case you get wet, take a spare set – socks, pants, sweatshirt. Pack them in airtight bags.
If clothes get wet, it’s better not to dry them by the fire, but in a sleeping bag, close to the source of heat – near your body.
Find out in advance where on your way there will be sources of drinking water. In case the source freezes, you can melt the snow.
Remember that your main source of heat in winter is your body, so at least a small amount of water should be kept in the inside pocket of your jacket, close to your winter hiking gear body – so water will never freeze even in extreme cold.
In winter, you can cook on a campfire or with gas, but it’s more difficult and resource-consuming than in summer. Gas consumption increases greatly, and not all the gas will work in the cold. It is convenient to have at least a small supply of cooked food: stew or a second course in a retort pack.
If you’re going to spend the night in the woods, take a winter tent with an extra layer – winter hiking gear will help keep you warm.
Consider sleeping in a cabin, trailer, or car. Sleeping on the cold ground is not an ordeal for everyone, especially if you’re traveling in northern latitudes.
Is fleece good for winter hiking?
This middle insulating winter hiking layer is critical for maintaining body heat by trapping air close to your body and providing insulation. Generally, a warm insulating layer will be made of down, synthetic down, or fleece. Keep in mind that down isn't warm if it gets wet.
What should I wear on my feet for winter hiking?
Comfortable hiking socks are one of the keys to happy winter hiking and snowshoeing. I wear thicker wool socks in the winter time to add warmth. Make sure your socks fit well and aren't too thick for your shoes.