10 TOP TIPS FOR HIKING IN WINTER

Ever wondered what you need to look out for when you are going for a winter hike? Check out our top 10 tips for winter hiking!

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Winter hiking may be a new adventure for some of you.

Before embarking on it, it is important to be equipped with the best knowledge and tips!

Today, we will share with you the top winter hiking tips for an enjoyable yet safe experience.

It's advisable to always go prepared!

1. Never go alone

If it’s your first time hiking in winter, choose a hike which you are familiar with or join a group with an experienced guide!

Additionally, if it’s your first time going for a hike in winter, you will definitely want someone to guide you along the way.

There is greater safety in numbers - what's more, someone will always be looking out for you.

Going in a group will also mean there will be shared memories created to remember for a lifetime.

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2. Dress appropriately

The clothes you choose to wear will make or break your day!

So, effectively layer up to ensure you are warm at all times.

If you remember our previous article, "How to layer effectively", you will realise that wool or synthetics are going to be your best friends for your base layers.

Fleece jackets will be the ideal mid-layers, while a waterproof and breathable outer layer will protect you from bad weather.

If you think you are going to need additional layers to give you more insulation, you can opt for a lightweight gilet to weather in between your mid- and outer layer.

Do not forget your legs as well!

Layering for your legs is similar to layering for your body.

You'll need a thermal base layer, followed by synthetic trousers as a mid-layer, and waterproof trousers as your outer layer to protect you from the weather.

Be wary about frostbite - it is very dangerous and possible in sub-zero temperatures and will most likely affect your extremities such as your fingers, toes, and face.

So covering them is extremely vital!

You might want to consider getting a balaclava to keep your head, neck and ears warm during your hike.

3. Don't forget your feet

Hiking boots for summer should not be used for winter hikes!

You'll need to change your hiking boots to ones with a sturdier sole and designed for sturdier conditions.

Do not forget about socks as well! 

Merino wool would be the ideal choice as it will keep your feet extremely warm. 

Always make sure you have sufficient room for your feet in your hiking shoes to allow your toes to have enough room to wiggle around.

4. Weather forecasting

A week prior to your trip, you should keep an eye on the weather trends at your destination and continuously check what the predicted weather will be for the next 48 hours. 

By knowing the conditions of your destination, you can properly estimate what are the types of clothes you will need to bring along and prepare efficiently for your hike. 

Always prioritise your safety!

If the predicted weather conditions don’t allow you to complete a hike you have been preparing for, shorten your hike and make plans to head back to safety if you are not confident to go ahead with the entire hike.

5. Start early and finish early

The number of sunlight hours during winter is limited so you should plan to start your hike when the sun is rising. 

By starting early, you can maximise the number of hours of sunlight during the day.

Especially since the sun sets in the afternoons, you need to be realistic about what you can achieve in the day as you are going to face natural barriers such as snow, ice and even wind!

6. Be wary of natural hazards

During your hike, you will come into contact with snow, frozen rivers, ice and even overhangs. 

It is extremely important that you keep a lookout for hazards in your environment. 

Therefore, we recommended that you purchase hiking poles for your winter hike.

This will help you clear obstacles along the way such as deadfall, and even test if there’s ice below snow to ensure you don’t end up in a dangerous position!

7. Snack 'N go

During hikes, it is recommended that you bring snacks or finger food that you can eat as you go.

This is especially useful during winter where the days are short and you have to efficiently utilise the time you have to complete your hike.

Try to bring granola bars, fruits or peanut butter that will give you the necessary energy that you need during the hike.

8. Bring a thermos flask

Yes! A thermos flask for a snow hiking session is a must-have. 

You'll definitely need a thermos to keep your drinks warm. Otherwise, they'll easily turn cold and likely even freeze while you hike! 

Pro-tip: Bring along hot tea while hiking in the cold to provide you warmth as you hike. 

If tea is not your cup of tea (see what we did there), feel free to choose any hot beverage of your choice of course. 

Alternatively, if you don't have a thermos flask, you can opt to purchase sleeves for your bottles to keep your drink warm!

9. Hike while the sun is out

You'll do anything to stay out of the sun in tropical climates, but this is not the case during snow hikes! 

The sun is going to provide you with warmth during your hike, so you don't need to layer as much during the day. 

Of course, the weather can change its course any time of the day so you should be prepared for winds and snowfall.

You may hate the sun now, but it's going to be your best friend during winter hikes.

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10. Have basic knowledge about hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body’s temperature falls to a level where normal muscular and cerebral functions are affected - sometimes even impaired. 

Hypothermia can affect your ability to think and evacuate quickly to safety. 

Before you go winter hiking, it’s important that you take note of the warning signs and be able to recognise if you or your hiking buddy start showing signs of possible hypothermia.

CONDITIONS THAT CAN LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA:

- Cold temperatures

- Improper clothing and equipment for changing weather conditions

- Wetness

- Fatigue, exhaustion, dehydration, inadequate food intake

- Alcohol intake also expands your blood vessels which can lead to increased heat loss

SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHERMIA:

- Uncontrollable or violent shivering

- Slurred speech or inability to communicate

- Fumbling or lethargy

We hope you found this article useful, and all the best for your first ever winter hike - the view is going to be worth it!