Tips For Hiking And Camping In Winter Months

There is an old Scottish proverb that says There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.” This proverb is especially true when camping and hiking in the winter. Being prepared for a winter expedition can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience in nature or a trip cut short by necessity. Dressing properly can keep Mother Nature from chasing you back home for a bowl of steaming soup and a hot shower.

Dressing For Winter Excursions

Dressing in layers is best when spending extended periods of time outdoors in cooler temperatures. Generally, layering begins with a close fitting, long johns type top and bottom.

Special wicking material is sold to help keep perspiration away from your body when you sweat but traditional thermal underwear works as well. Next, an insulating layer, usually made of fleece is donned. This should be loose fitting and allow a pocket of body heat to form between the fleece and your long johns.

The last layer needs to be waterproof and windproof to prevent heat loss when out in adverse weather.

Wool or synthetic materials are ideal for winter dressing since they dry quickly and continue to insulate even when wet. This is not true of cotton fibers.

When choosing your camping attire, one of the most important items is your head gear. A quality head covering will keep you warmer than any other item of clothing since most of your body heat is lost through your head.

Multiple layers of gloves and socks are popular in especially chilly climates. This can be done safely as long as the layering does not restrict blood flow to your hands and feet.

It is also important not to lace your boots so tightly that blood flow is impaired in your feet and ankles. If circulation is decreased, your extremities will become cold no matter how many layers of clothing you apply.

Always carry extra pairs of dry gloves and socks so wet items can be replaced immediately. Wet items can be dried overnight by placing them under your sleeping bed next to your body.

Seasoned winter hikers will suggest a few extra articles of clothing like gaiters to keep snow and ice out of your boots, fasteners to secure your gloves to your sleeves so they don’t become lost on windy days, and a balaclava to protect your face and neck and add an extra layer over your head when necessary.

Other Considerations for Winter Trips

It is important to note that normal camping and hiking activities like pitching a pitching a tent , gathering fire wood, preparing meals and even travelling short distances will take nearly twice as long to complete in cold weather as it would in summer months.

Winter also brings shortened daylight hours and you should plan your daily activities with these two facts in mind to ensure that you reach your campsite and have enough time to prepare an adequate shelter and a meal before dark.

It is vital that you remain hydrated during winter trips. Mixing your water supply with an additive like Gatorade will allow the liquid to stay fluid longer since it will freeze at a lower temperature than pure water. Drink on a regular basis, even if you do not feel thirsty.

Your body requires larger amounts of fluids to generate heat. If you are using chemical water purification tablets, it is important to know that they take longer to work in frigid water.

Storing your water bottles upside down will result in ice forming from the bottom up, leaving the opening free from large ice chunks so you can drink more easily.

It is also useful to carry coffee filters to strain out bits of dirt and debris when melting snow for drinking. Always add a small amount of water to the bottom of your pot before adding snow to prevent scorching your pot before the snow melts completely.

These tips will help keep you on the trail instead of running for cover at the nearest motel. Spending time outdoors in the winter can be a rewarding experience, but proper precautions are necessary to make your trip a fun and safe event. Happy Hiking!

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