Published on December 18th, 2014 | by Editor0
Tips for a Happy Winter Hike
Water wicking. Thinsulate. Gore-Tex.
(These are some of my favorite things.)
When hiking in freezing weather, keeping warm is a challenge.
Layer on the clothing starting with long johns up against your skin. The material should be a synthetic and specify that it is water-wicking. All clothing should be water-wicking. This means that sweat will be pulled away from your skin. Tuck the shirt part into the pants so you don’t get any cold drafts!
Wear a long sleeved shirt and a zippered fleece jacket. This will allow you to open the jacket up if you start to get warm. (But, you aren’t going to hike so fast and hard that you break a sweat because as sweat evaporates, it cools your body and that could get you in quite a pickle.)
To keep your digits warm, wear a pair of gloves and over the gloves a larger pair of mittens. A fleece band is great for keeping your ears warm, and a knit hat—on your head. A scarf wrapped loosely around your neck before your zip up your coat helps keep out random bursts of freezing air.
For your tootsies, winter-grade socks and a pair of boots with Thinsulate and Gore-Tex will keep your feet warm. Thinsulate boots come in different…errr… degrees. The higher the grams number, the more insulating power. A 400-800 gram Thinsulate will keep you warm. I usually go for a 600 gram boot for winter hiking. The 800 grams can get a little too hot for me.
A good coat is important. Get a coat long enough that it covers your butt and has the following:
- Lots of pockets
- Collar with a zipper or Velcro closure
- Drawstring cinch hood (tighten to block drafts)
- Drawstring cinch around the waist (tighten to block drafts)
- Wrist wraps to cinch down the end of the sleeves as well as interior sleeve extensions
- Insulated fleece lining
- Water-proof exterior shell
- Flap over the zipper to keep out cold air
Don’t Be An Idiot
Always tell at least two keepers (people who will worry about you if you don’t check-in) where you are hiking, which trails you will be on, and when you expect to be done. Then, as you are hiking, let them know (via text, photo, or call) how the hike is going and when you are done and safely back in your car that thankfully started.
Accidents can happen and your keepers could be the difference between life and death. This is not a joke. Even on short seemingly easy hikes, tell at least two people where you are going to be and check-in. If you slip, fall into a creek, break your cell phone, and manage to snap an ankle at the same time—being “overly” cautious could save your life in cold weather.
Don’t go hiking in winter or through snow if you have any physical problems. Hiking in snow is more taxing than shoveling the driveway and help is much farther away.
Be safe and stay toasty!