How to Hike in the Cold

mt-ida-hikerHiking in cold weather can be challenging. Frosty mornings where you can’t feel your fingers, and see your breath, are enough to deter most casual hikers. Some people would rather brave the elements than stay cooped up indoors all winter, though. Here are some cold weather hiking tips for people who want to hit the trail in cooler temperatures!

It all starts with a positive attitude

Cold weather hiking can be enjoyable, but it’s not always pleasant. Bitter cold and grueling trails can ruin your day if you’re not mentally prepared. Stay optimistic and maintain a positive attitude!

It’s better to start too cold than too warm

It’s OK to be a little chilly at the trailhead. You generate body heat as you hike, and it’s better to start the day¬† little cool than to start warm and carry around a bunch of layers that you’re not going to use.

Get your body temperature up before the hike

Do some jumping jacks, burpees, or pushups to generate some body heat before the hike.

Carry an extra insulating layer just in case

Bring a warm insulating layer for when you stop. You crank out heat while hiking or backpacking, but you lose it when you’re sitting or standing still. It’s also easy to underestimate cold temperatures, and it’s sometimes worth the extra weight to keep from freezing.

Dial in your layering system

Layering is a finicky beast. The layers you need depend on person, temperature, and activity, and ultimately dialing in your layerign system will take time, trial, and error. Typically you want warm base layer (synthetic or merino wool), an insulating mid layer (fleece or down), and a shell to protect from wind and moisture. The biggest advantage of layering is that it gives you complete control over regulating your body temperature.

Wear wool on your feet

Merino wool socks insulate and add protection and comfort for your feet. They can keep your toes warm, prevent blisters, and they’re much mroe comfortable than other socks out there.

Consider waterproof footwear for cold weather hiking

Moisture and cold is a bad combination. Stepping in a puddle when it’s 30-something degrees outside will ruin your hike, and ruin your day. Also, waterproof boots and waterproof shoes retain heat better than non-waterproof footwear.

Avoid cotton

Cotton retains moisture and pulls heat form the body. This makes cotton fibers great for the summer, but terrible for cold weather hiking. Go with a lightly insulated, synthetic pair of cold weather hiking pants rather than jeans, and a synthetic fleece layer instead of a cotton sweatshirt.

Pack a few hand warmers

Hand warmers aren’t going to crank out heavy heat, but they can put the feeling back in your hands.

Drink plenty of water

It’s easy to forget that you need to drink lots of water when the sun isn’t beating down and you’re not sweating buckets. Hydration is important even in cold weather. Remember to drink plenty of water.

Keep your water from freezing while hiking in cold weather

An insulated water bottle can keep your water from freezing or getting too cold, and insulated tube cover can do the same for your water reservoir.

Remember the accessories

Wear gloves, hats, and neck gaiters, and don’t forget the lip balm and sunglasses.

Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for any of your hiking or backpacking needs!

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