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Winter Hiking Gear: How to Choose What You Need
Hiking in the winter can be just as fun and refreshing as hiking in the summer if you’re prepared with the right winter hiking gear. Whether you’re new to winter hiking or want to upgrade your current kit, choosing the best hiking gear can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for.
However, with these tips, you’ll have the information to find the perfect winter hiking gear for your next trip through snowy forest trails and icy mountain paths.
What is the Importance of Choosing the Right Winter Hiking Gear?
Imagine trudging through a snowy wilderness, the crisp air biting at your face as you push on through the cold. Suddenly, your feet start to feel numb and your fingers go numb despite your gloves.
Your layers of clothing aren’t enough to keep you warm, and you’re starting to feel hypothermic. This scenario could have been easily avoided with the right winter hiking gear.
Don’t let a lack of proper preparation ruin your winter hiking experience – read on to learn how to choose the gear you need for a successful and comfortable outing.
It is essential for people hiking in winter to ensure that they have all their equipment. Even if someone has hiked many times, it is always good to ensure they have everything they need. It will help them avoid problems and help them enjoy their time on a hike more.
What are some of these pieces of gear? This post lists some essential things one should have when hiking in winter.
The 7 Essential Winter Hiking Gear
Choosing the right winter hiking gear is essential for staying warm, safe, and comfortable on the trail.
Any seasoned hiker knows that having the right gear makes winter hiking comfortable and hassle-free. Below is a list of suitable equipment for winter hiking:
1. A Backpack
When hiking in a snow-covered wilderness, a few things are essential. You should have proper clothing and food. While those two items might seem more than enough, what if your stuff gets wet? That’s why carrying a backpack with additional clothing, rain gear, and waterproof matches is critical.
The backpack size depends on how far you plan on traveling. If you’re hiking for only a day or two, make sure your bag has an easily accessible area for food at the top. For longer trips (and most winter hiking adventures), it’s best to invest in a duffel bag or backpacking box that you can access easily along your journey.
2. Extra Clothes
Light clothing is essential. Always carry a sweater, jacket, gloves, hat, and scarf. Even in milder temperatures, temperatures can fall rapidly when hiking, so bundle up. You should also consider packing waterproof clothes and rain gear when visiting mountainous areas during winter.
Finally, it’s good to bring extra socks for added warmth. Synthetic materials work best for hiking boots because they are less likely to freeze up than traditional leather boots. Before heading out into snowy conditions, make sure your shoelaces comprise durable materials that won’t freeze up in the cold weather. Some companies will even sell bootlaces explicitly designed for icy conditions.
Opt for breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex when choosing outerwear instead of heavy down jackets. If you plan to stay outside all day long, be sure to pack food and water with you, even though winter hikes usually don’t last more than a few hours.
3. Protein Bars
Protein bars can be a lifesaver when hiking in the winter. They’re lightweight and easy to pack on every trip, and they help stave off hunger, which can make you forget about snacks later in your hike.
In addition to basic supplies like energy bars and water bottles, consider bringing hot chocolate mix or other warm drinks on your hike.
The downside is that since they only contain calories from protein, not carbohydrates or fat, eating too many of them can leave you with a grumbling stomach. Opt for Kind Bars’ new Fruit & Nut flavor; it tastes like a granola bar but consists of 10 grams of protein per serving.
Tip: If you don’t have time to stop at a store before hitting the trail, carry along some emergency rations (like Cliff Bar’s ZBar). These bars supply nutrients when food isn’t available during an emergency. Because they comprise dense calories, they’ll keep your energy up without weighing down your pack as much as other foods.
4. Water Bottles or CamelBak
While some people like hiking with a simple water bottle, CamelBaks has a lot for them. They add a complexity layer to your hike. You can’t just go for any old bottle off a shelf and fill it up at a fountain.
On the other hand, CamelBaks are much easier to clean; you don’t need special equipment or techniques, just soap and hot water. CamelBaks also makes it very easy to carry other things on your hike. While hiking with children, you can easily tuck juice boxes or sandwiches into your hydration system.
5. Headlamp or Flashlight
It is crucial to have a light on you at all times. When hiking in winter, your hands may be covered with snow if you slip or fall. Therefore, having a headlamp or flashlight will allow you to see where you are going so that you don’t hurt yourself as severely. It is also helpful because it will let others know where you are walking.
There are many flashlights and headlamps, but it could be better if you had both. You could use a flashlight when cooking or doing things around camp and your headlamp when hiking if your hands get cold and you need gloves or something else.
The most important thing about these two items is ensuring they work correctly before going into nature. The last thing any hiker could wish is to get lost and injured without seeing where you are going.
6. Hydration Pack
A hydration pack will be necessary if you plan on hiking in cold, snowy weather. Even if it’s not snowing, frostbite is still a risk. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration (which can make you more susceptible to frostbite), so having a convenient and portable means of carrying enough water for your hike is essential.
Hydration packs with pouches designed for easy access are best so that you can grab them when you need them most. The Camelbak Octane pack is ideal for winter hikes because it has an insulated tube that keeps water from freezing.
The first thing that hikers need to consider when they’re in snowy conditions is traction. Snowshoes give you a platform with much more surface area than hiking boots, meaning you have less chance of slipping and falling on your ass.
Snowshoes are also great for winter backpacking because they distribute your weight evenly across your entire foot, leaving less pressure on joints and ligaments, thus, less pain and inflammation when you get home from a long trip.
Additionally, snowshoes allow for a full range of motion in your ankles; unlike regular hiking boots, there isn’t any clamping or constriction around your feet.
The Final Word
A cold-weather hike can be a great wintertime activity, requiring special equipment. On frigid days, you want to pack plenty of layers. If your hands get chilly while hiking, add a windproof outer layer, thick waterproof boots, and mittens or gloves.
Depending on your hiking location, you may need a headlamp or other lights if it gets dark early. Drinking sufficient water is essential; dehydration can lead to hypothermia and other dangerous conditions even when freezing outside.
Protect yourself with sunscreen and bug spray; some repellent contains DEET, so do not apply too much. Whatever clothes you wear on your hikes should be appropriate for cool and warm temperatures – layers are essential!