Winter Hiking Done Safely With 5 Rules

For novice and avid summer hikers alike, the winter hiking season does not need to be feared or avoided. It should however be respected. The precautions a hiker should take when hiking in winter conditions are similar to those they should in the summer, with only some minor variations to account for the weather and potential changes in weather.Below are the five keys to being a safe winter hiker.

Be Conscious of the Weather

If you are planning a hike, check the local weather forecast for your destination area throughout the week prior in order to better understand the current weather patterns and temperatures. Make very sure to check the forecast on the day of your hike and take note of the expected weather and temperatures for the day of the hike as well as a day or two past. Also, it is best to understand how those weather conditions change or are modified as your elevation changes in the area. Never plan a hike when the conditions are expected to be harsh and innavigable.

Even the best laid plans can be thwarted by the weather. It is best to be prepared for the worst weather should it unexpectedly sneak up on you. The following tips will ensure you are prepared should such arise.

Layers. Layers. Layers

When you’re hiking, increased blood circulation will keep your body warm but when you stop, the temperature will quickly catch up with your body. It is therefore important to wear multiple layers of clothes so that you can add and remove clothes without putting yourself at risk of hypothermia or overheating. Choose hiking clothes that made of breathable fabrics and that do not absorb water or moisture. Cotton is a particularly bad material for winter hiking clothes because it absorbs sweat, rapidly cooling the body and keeping it that way.

Essential Gear

There are a few equipment items you should never hike without. Stock a comfortable backpack or waistpack with these essentials:

– Water: You simply cannot survive without it.

– A few energy rich snacks. Trail mix, protein bars, nuts and dried berries work well.

– A flashlight, headlamp, or lantern. A light will help you signal for help, find your way to a path or stream and just add some needed moral should you be stuck over night.

– Small first-aid kit with an emergency blanket and whistle

– Map and compass (see below)

– Cell Phone: Not all areas will be accessible by cell phone so do not rely on this solely but do carry it in case of emergencies

– Knife, pocket knife, or multi-tool. A knife, coupled with the many functions of a mutli-tool is invaluable for cutting branches for a fire and protecting yourself

Have A Plan

Never go hiking without a clear plan for where you plan to go and when you plan to return. Include in your plan where you need to be by a certain time in order to make it back or to your intended destination before nightfall. You should always tell someone your planned route and the estimated times of departure and return. Use your map of the area and compass throughout the day to make sure you are following your intended route, especially if the weather begins to worsen.

Have a Friend

It is never advisable to winter hike alone. Not only is hiking with others far more fun, it is also much safer. By hiking with another, you can share the responsibilities of carrying supplies and monitoring your hiking route. Should you fall or become ill, you will have someone with you who can call or get help.

Don’t let the winter keep you caged in. If you love to hike or explore nature, consider planning a winter hike with your friends. By following these five steps, you will be well on your way to a safe and fun outdoor adventure.