One is that winter weather is always unpredictable, and if you are going to be hiking for a long period of time, all day or even overnight, then you need to go winter hiking prepared for a few possibilities, such as the weather turning ugly on you. Summer hiking is a lot more forgiving than winter hiking, and people often underestimate just how ugly things can get when the weather turns bad. Snow storms, wind storms and generally cold temperatures can mean that your gear requirements are a lot different than a summer stroll.
And speaking of gear, there are a few winter hiking equipment possibilities that you might consider taking along to enhance your fun on a winter hike. The environment changes rather drastically in the winter, and snow on the trail, for instance, can present an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in a different way.
Winter Hiking EquipmentHere are a few likely winter hiking gear choices that you should consider bringing with you when going hiking in cold temperatures.
- Insulating Layers - When winter hiking it is important to ensure that you can always be warm, and that means taking along insulating layers to work with your other layers. Just because you're taking along insulating layers, however, that doesn't mean you have to weight down your backpack with all kinds of heavy gear. Mont Bell makes an excellent down inner jacket (women's version) and down inner pants (women's version) that are ideal for winter hiking. They weigh very little and pack down to almost nothing, but will keep you nice and warm in a pinch.
- Sunglasses - You might not think it, but a pair of sunglasses can really come in handy when out winter hiking. Sun reflecting off the snow can cause snow blindness, which can be dangerous if you are by yourself. Also consider taking along some sunscreen for the same reason.
- Winter Hiking Boots - It pays to bring along a pair of winter hiking boots, especially if you are planning to go on an all day hike. Keeping for feet dry and warm is paramount to not only enjoying yourself in the outdoors but staying safe as well.
- Outer Layers - A good waterproof outer layer is important. You should have a jacket at least, and a pair of pants wouldn't be a bad idea either, especially if you are heading in to the snow. Look for a waterproof fabric that will breath as well, such as GoreTex or eVent.
- Overnight Gear - If there is a possibility that your day hike will turn in to a backpacking trip, then it would be a good idea to bring along a winter sleeping bag, a winter tent and a winter sleeping pad. Staying warm overnight when winter hiking is critical, and if there is a chance you will be spending the night outdoors you should not leave home without a few essentials.
- Hiking Snowshoes - If you plan to get in to some fresh snow while out winter hiking then a pair of hiking snowshoes might be a great idea. Snowshoes will save you some energy and also let you experience the outdoors in a new way.
Reasons to go Winter HikingWinter hiking has more dangers associated with it than summer hiking does, but there is a definite benefit to going winter hiking, which is the opportunity to experience the outdoors in a whole new way.
There are different animals out and about in the winter months. There are also a lot of very different things that can only be seen in the winter months, like frozen lakes and snow covered mountains.
One of the best reasons to go winter hiking, however, has to be that there are far less people out with you. Summer hiking can feel a bit claustrophobic sometimes with all the people that go out to enjoy the outdoors, but winter hiking can be a very solitary experience.