If you haven’t tried it yet, winter hiking needs to be on your to-do list this year. Colder days do not need to mean the end of hiking for a few months. With the proper preparation, winter hiking provides a whole new experience for you. Following these five tips for winter hiking will let you experience Outside Walla Walla.
1. Dress Appropriately
One essential step to let you explore more during the winter months is to dress appropriately. Maintaining your body temperature by laying clothes is an important part of your winter hiking preparations. Dress so that you can add or remove clothing as you progress on your hike. A backpack to carry your clothing should also be on your winter hiking list.
You don’t want to sweat while you’re hiking in the winter, so select your layers of clothes that are made from material that wicks. Fabrics made from wool and synthetics are blended to pull sweat away from your body; this material also dries quickly.
Don’t forget to protect your hands and head from the cold.
2. Winterize your Footwear
Wicking material, such as merino wool, is a great option for your socks. Sweat will be wicked away from your feet, which will keep them dry and warm. If you will be going on an extended hike, toss an extra pair of socks in your backpack.
Wearing the right kind of hiking footwear will not only keep your feet warm and dry, but they will also provide traction for you, depending on your hiking trails. Choose waterproof hiking boots. If you encounter icy or snowy trails, consider microspikes, snow gaiters, or snowshoes.
3. Know your Tools
Cold and snowy weather can affect how your tools perform on your hike. Electronics and their batteries can be negatively impacted by cold. Storing your Smartphone closer to your body instead of in your backpack can offset the battery drain. If you rely on hiking apps to follow and explore the trails, bring a paper copy with you, just in case!
Since it does get darker earlier in the winter, add a headlamp to your winter hiking supply list.
4. Stay Hydrated
By dressing in layers with clothing made from wicking fabrics, you don’t feel your sweat. However, your body releases moisture as you hike. Though you might not feel as thirsty on a winter hike as a summer one, it is important to ensure that you drink enough water. Staying hydrated will help your body retain its internal temperature while you hike in the winter.
Select water bottles that will not freeze and that are easy to handle while wearing gloves or mittens.
5. Enjoy the Scenery
The sounds, smells, and vistas in the mountains during the winter will provide an entirely new experience for you. Often, you will not encounter as many people, which will change the ambiance of the trails. The quiet peacefulness of the woods will let you enjoy winter scenery and landscape with a different and new appreciation for the great outdoors. And there are no bugs!