Hiking is a popular outdoor activity for most seasoned and novice hikers who like to experience delightful trails and the peacefulness of winter wonderlands in the backcountry. If you’re about to set off on your first winter hike, here are some essential tips on safety to ensure that you have a safe and memorable winter adventure.
Check Weather Condition and Be Prepared
Storms or other severe weather conditions develop quickly in winter. To prepare properly for your hike, check forecasts regularly and as early as possible so that you aren’t caught off guard. With appropriate preparation and planning, weathering a snowstorm will ensure that you hike comfortably and safely. Hikers who neglect to monitor the weather could put themselves in grave danger.
Dress in Proper Layers
It’s best to add an extra layer of clothing because the body tends to build up heat after a few minutes of walking, particularly for individuals who choose a strenuous trail. To maintain a consistent, warm body temperature while hiking in the snow-covered mountains be sure to wear the following: a breathable shirt or thermal layer, a heavy fleece jacket, a scarf, a long-sleeved shirt, extra socks, gloves, hat with ear flaps, and waterproof boots. Avoid cotton garments as they stop keeping you warm once they get wet.
Know Where You Are
The best hiking compass is a mandatory item for hiking day or night in winter, as it’s easy to quickly become lost while exploring. Modern GPS navigation systems are useful tools to find your way back, but they can also fail and leave you stranded. Having a good map is a great backup plan.
Plan Shorter Hikes and Start Early
Winter means that the hours of sunlight is low, and dusk starts early. To avoid any problems that may arise after sunset, start early to make the most of the day without any issues.
Individuals who travel in avalanche-prone areas need to bear in mind the risks involved and how to safely cross these zones with proper gear. Read up on articles about avalanches in order to be well prepared if you’re a novice hiker in the mountains.
Carry an Emergency Kit
Every hiker should have a first aid or an emergency kit. Key items include bandages, a sling, a blanket, high-calorie food, matches, a pocket knife, a flashlight or a headlamp.
Bring Enough Food and Drink
Choose satisfying and nutritional food to fuel your body during a hike. Since you could end up spending extra hours or extending the days of a hike, the last thing you want is to run out of food. Always pack more food than you may first anticipate because you’ll undoubtedly use up more energy while hiking. Make sure you also have plenty of water with you. Though winter season doesn’t make you thirsty like summers do, it’s still important to stay hydrated.
Be Aware of Hypothermia
It’s important to know that warm clothes don’t prevent hypothermia. Without any room for sweat to evaporate, it can accumulate and freeze on your skin, putting yourself in danger of hypothermia in particular when you take a break. Make a point of adding and changing your clothes as you go along, and don’t forget to keep your temperature constant.
Tell Somebody Where You’re Going
Being unable to find your way back or call for help in case of minor or major problems can turn into a potentially life-threatening crisis, especially if you’re alone. It’s absolutely vital to let somebody know where you’re going and when you hope to return. In case you have a change in plans, inform your friends and family. If it’s your first time hiking in winter, consider having an experienced partner accompany you. He or she can provide you with excellent safety tips and offer the solutions to any problems encountered along the way.
With additional training, education, and proper gear there’s no reason you should never take an active hike in winter.
— Uncharted101.com (@Uncharted1o1) February 5, 2017