Around here we love hiking. The crunch of gravel under our boots and the endless amount of trails keep us grabbing our packs while, at times, ignoring the notions of unstable weather. Ideally, we’d love to be able to hike in moderate temperatures, with clouds lazily rolling by and a light breeze to keep us cool. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Blustery winds can roll off the mountains and shower us with rain, sleet, snow (and sometimes all three at once). Living close to these mountains, we know to be prepared for any condition that may arise. For those just visiting it can be a shock to go from sunshine to three inches of snow in just under an hour. Below are a few tips from the Oboz crew on how to stay warm and safe when nature gives you a cold, wet surprise:
This is obviously the number one item that comes to our minds. Keeping your feet warm and dry is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your safety (and hell, your happiness!) on a trip.
Winter hiking requires proper layering. You aren’t sitting on your tail all day- you are working your ass off,
which means you are probably sweating. Sweat can be extremely dangerous in the cold, so it’s important to take steps to minimize that danger. You’ve heard it before:
Cotton Kills. Stay away from cotton layering in the winter. It doesn’t wick away moisture and when it gets wet, it takes forever to dry.
Start with a synthetic base layer that has wicking properties. This will feel good against your skin and will be sure to pull the moisture out and dry quickly. After your base layer, look for a microfleece or merino layer. There are many options of different weights depending on what you will need- pick something that will keep you warm but won’t have you sweating to death. After that can be your final insulation layer of your outer jacket. Pick something warm but lightweight that will be easy to take off and pack if you get too hot.
Your body will burn more calories and require more water when hiking through snow. Make sure you have enough food and water for your hike. If it is super cold and you are worried about your water freezing, keep a separate bottle inside your coat that will keep from freezing by your body heat. Pick foods high in protein such as dried fruit, nuts, and peanut butter.
Even though daydreaming about our upcoming winter hikes is way more fun than sitting at our desks, we won’t go on forever. The key is to think ahead: research the area you are going to, look on online forums to ask any questions you have about hiking in the winter, be in touch with your local parks and wildlife and overall, stay safe and have fun!