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Winter Hike Essentials
Now that winter has arrived, you may wonder what to do during your days off. For those that crave adventure, you may try hiking in the snow. Hiking during the summer is much different than in winter. However, we have compiled a list of top equipment you should have before venturing out in the chilly temps.
Lots of Layers
Bringing lots of layers is the most important way to stay warm while hiking. There will be parts during your hike where you will get warm, and having the ability to shed or add layers is essential to winter hikes. Some items include an insulated puffy jacket, windbreaker, fleece jacket, raincoat, and thermal tees. For pants, ski pants are great if hiking in an area with lots of snow. Otherwise, standard waterproof and windproof pants will work.
Another essential piece of clothing is a beanie or headband to protect your ears. Some people prefer one over the other depending on how much warmth they want on their head for the hike. For shorter hikes, a headband with a hoodie would do just fine. For others, you may need a beanie for extra protection from the wind. No matter what you decide, make sure your ears are covered to avoid frost bite.
Neck gaiters are also essential for winter activities. They’re lightweight, easy to breathe through, and help protect your face from the frigid air. While hiking in the mountains, the wind tends to pick up and the temperatures drop as you gain elevation. Having a neck gaiter will protect you from your nose down. You can even wear a gaiter during the summer to help protect the back of your neck from sunburn.
Gloves / Wool Socks
The last bit of clothing needed for winter hikes are gloves and wool socks. Most hikers wear wool socks throughout the year as they add extra padding and prevent blisters from forming. Wool socks also help prevent sweating and allow your feet to breathe while in your boot. Obviously, socks are not waterproof, so it is important to bring an extra pair just in case. Lastly, a good pair of gloves is necessary for winter hikes. Make sure to purchase a pair that is insulated, waterproof, and have a grip in case you need to do any climbing during your hike.
This may seem obvious, but for winter hikes you must have waterproof boots. Whether they are insulated or not depends on the terrain and length of your hike. Most hiking boots are waterproof and have a good amount of traction. Waterproof boots will keep your feet dry while trekking through ice and snow. When purchasing boots, make sure to do the “shift test” in store or as soon as they arrive. You want your boots to fit snug and not slide when going downhill. Shifting boots is one of the main causes of blisters. If your boots shift only a tad, try thicker socks to keep your feet protected!
Boot Spikes or Snowshoes
Depending on the terrain of your hike, you may need to bring boot spikes or snowshoes. For trails with lots of snow, snowshoes are best. For trails with less snow and ice, boot spikes will give you more traction. Do research before you leave for your hike to check the weather and trail conditions to be fully prepared.
Insulated Water Bottle
Our last winter hike essential is an insulated water bottle. Standard water bottles will freeze during winter hikes, whereas insulated water bottles will keep your water cool and flowing. Along with an insulated water bottle, make sure your backpack is also insulated if you have a water bladder. You must keep hydrated while hiking, so you must have the proper equipment to prevent your hydration from freezing.
Additional Gear to Bring
- First Aid Kit
- Hand Warmers
- Portable Phone Charger
- Additional Clothing
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