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Many outdoor enthusiasts will tell you that hiking in the winter is great because of the breathtaking sites. The fresh blanket of snow looks like a real-life holiday card. However, a hike during the colder months also means taking the appropriate precautions. With these six tips for hiking safely in the winter, you can continue exploring without risking your well-being.
Pack Snacks and Water
Cold weather doesn’t mean you won’t sweat, so remember to pack water and an electrolyte drink. Likewise, you’ll need to refuel your body with a healthy snack like trail mix, jerky, or granola. You could also bring tea or hot chocolate, but be mindful that some beverages dehydrate you, so you’ll need to balance them out with water.
Invest in Quality Gear
Make sure you buy high-quality outdoor gear since it will keep you comfortable and last you through the season. Top-notch equipment can also be safer, as items like boots are more likely to have better grip to help you navigate an icy landscape.
Additionally, make sure you pack safety gear like a map, compass, first aid kit, flashlight, and pocket knife since you never know what you’ll encounter.
Wear the Appropriate Clothes
Wearing layers when you hike is crucial to a comfortable hike. You’re sure to sweat during this full-body workout, but you may get cold at higher elevations. Experts recommend wearing:
- Fleece gloves
- Wool socks
- A face mask and goggles
- A waterproof jacket
Planning what you wear is critical, regardless of the season, but you should take extra precautions to cover your skin in the winter. As you pick out what to wear, avoid cotton since it soaks in liquids and takes a long time to dry.
Check the Weather
While you may plan a hike a week in advance, you should still check the weather right before traveling to your location. Weather patterns can change overnight, and you don’t want to wind up trapped in a blizzard. If meteorologists predict poor weather, then postpone your hike for another day so that you can enjoy being out in nature.
Travel With a Buddy
Solo hikes are great, but winter isn’t the prime time for this. You should always travel with a buddy or at least inform others of where you plan to go. Getting lost along the trail is easier to do in winter, so telling others where you’re going will ensure you can get help if you need it.
The final yet vital tip for hiking safely in the winter is to leave early. By going on your hike in the early morning, you’ll likely finish by the afternoon and won’t wind up trapped in the mountains overnight.
As the sun sets and the trail gets darker, knowing where to go becomes more challenging. Plus, if you finish your hike in the early afternoon, you’ll have the rest of the day to recuperate with a nice mug of hot chocolate!