Some people might avoid hiking in the winter, but it can be a beautiful time to go out and enjoy your natural surroundings. Nature areas are less congested in cooler months, making it easier for you to enjoy the wilderness on your own.
One concern that might keep you from winter hiking? Chilly weather! Don’t let dropping temperatures keep you from enjoying a hike. If you follow our winter hiking tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors even in the coldest months.
Winter Hiking Tips
The first of our winter hiking tips? Don’t wear cotton. Cotton is a great fabric for summer hikes, but not ideal for winter hiking. When wet, cotton loses its insulating properties and will draw warmth away from your body. If wet cotton freezes, it will become extremely cold and hard, which will make you uncomfortable.
The Best Fabrics for Winter Hiking
Rather than your cotton gear, grab one of these fibers to fulfill winter hiking tips:
- Wool: It’s warm, tough, and remains an insulator when wet, plus stays flexible even when frozen. It can handle campfire exposure and extensive motion.
- Polypro: Wool can be very scratchy, so you’ll want another layer of fiber between it and your skin. Polypro and other inner synthetics wick moisture from your skin, creating a layer of warmth that will provide just the right moisture.
- Down: If the combination of wool and ploypro doesn’t prove to be enough, go for the goose down. It’s a lightweight, compressible insulator that is a great last layer when you’re cozied up for the night at camp. Just avoid getting your down blankets wet, as moisture renders them ineffective. Keeping them in a waterproof bag (another one of our hiking tips!) should do.
Don’t Go Too Tight
One of the best hiking tips that sometimes gets forgotten is making sure that your gear is not too tight. Layering clothing too tightly will prevent you from getting warm, because it prevents good blood circulation, particularly in your extremities. Try looser layers over your synthetic fibers to stay toasty. Your inner layer of polypro should be skintight, but nothing else should be.
The same hiking tips apply to your boots. If they’re too tight, your toes will be chilly — but if they’re too loose, you might get blisters. Be sure that your boots are properly fitted, and if they’re not, consider investing in a new pair that are.
Don’t Forget Your Hat
One of the easiest winter hiking tips to follow? Wearing a good hat. We lose warmth from our heads, so wearing a hat will help your body retain warmth. Wear your thickest hat to bed, when your body won’t be in motion.
Prepare Hot Food and Drinks
Our winter hiking tips wouldn’t be complete without a suggested menu. Rather than relying on prepackaged dry foods or picnic fare, make a fire and have a cookout. Bring a cook stove, hot cocoa mix, some hot dogs or premade chili — whatever hot food you feel will warm your belly.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The last of our hiking tips will also help you stay warm. If you don’t rest well at night, the next day, your body will struggle to stay warm. Pack a thick, insulating sleeping pad and a sleeping bag that fits you well. Remember that sleeping bags with stretched fill don’t insulate well.
If you follow these hiking tips, you should stay warm while exploring wintry landscapes! For more hiking tips for every season, or to find quality camping gear for your next winter hike, call Uncle Sam’s at (314) 499-8330.
Do you have any winter hiking experiences or hiking tips to share?