Staying safe while winter backpacking is only half of the story, however. You should also do your best to enjoy yourself in the outdoors when winter backpacking, because there are plenty of things to see and do that just aren't possible during the warmer months of the year.
Winter Backpacking Tips - Sights and SoundsWinter backpacking opens up a whole new world that you are not exposed to with summer backpacking. For those who are willing to go out in to the snow, there are plenty of opportunities for seeing something new.
The first winter backpacking tip, then, is to have the courage to go winter backpacking. As long as you leave the house prepared, winter weather wont be much of a worry. Just like summer backpacking, you need to prepare. But if you are prepared, then there are things like frozen lakes, snow covered forests and empty trails to greet you, which make winter backpacking more than worth it.
Winter Backpacking Tips - GearBeing prepared is the best winter backpacking tip, and when you will be spending the night in the outdoors, being prepared comes down to the gear you bring with you.
- Winter Tent - First on the list of winter backpacking tips for gear is a winter tent. If you can be sure that you wont run in to any foul winter weather than a summer tent will usually hold up fine. Wind, blizzards and the other uglier forms of winter weather can flatten and soak a summer tent in no time, however, so if there is the possibility of foul weather, bring a proper four season tent with you.
- Winter Sleeping Pad - On the tent floor you should have a winter sleeping pad. The cold ground will absorb a lot of your body heat, and so another good winter backpacking tip is to bring along a winter sleeping pad with a little insulation built in. The insulating layer will absorb and reflect body heat, whereas that heat might seep right out of a summer sleeping bag. Consult the sleeping pad R-value page to learn more about this.
- Winter Sleeping Bag - Finally, a winter sleeping bag will complete your winter sleeping system and keep you nice and toasty throughout the cold night. You might be tempted to try and supplement your summer sleeping pad with insulating layers and a sleeping bag liner, but a proper winter sleeping bag is a much safer option, especially if the weather turns ugly and you really need to hunker down in dipping temperatures.
- Footwear - It goes without saying, but a good pair of winter hiking boots are essential if you plan to spend any significant amount of time on the trail while winter backpacking. Keeping your feet dry and warm over a multi-day winter backpacking trip is crucial, and a good pair of waterproof winter hiking boots is the way to do it. Also consider a pair of hiking snowshoes to introduce a little novelty in to your backpacking and keep you floating above, rather than slogging through, the deep snow.
- Insulation - One final winter backpacking tip with regards to gear is to bring along some proper insulating layers. When you're doing your cooking at night you will be thankful for the extra warmth, and if the temperature really dips you will be thankful at night in your sleeping bag for the extra warmth. Down is an excellent material for insulating layers because it packs small and weighs next to nothing. Mont Bell is to go to manufacturer for down insulating garments, and a couple of their best are the men's and women's down inner parka, and the matching down inner pants, also in men's and women's models.
Winter Backpacking Tips - WeatherOne final winter backpacking tip is to consult a weather forecast before you head out. If you're going backpacking for more than a few days, long term forecasts shouldn't be relied on too much, but it helps to know what to expect.
But even if the weather might not be great for your winter backpacking trip, that's no reason to cancel. The important thing with winter weather is to be prepared. If you have the proper gear and the proper knowledge, there's no reason to cancel or postpone a trip on account of bad winter weather.