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Things to Pack for Your First Long Winter Hike

Hiking during winter may sound scary or cold, to enjoy nature without freezing. Are you ready to face a winter hiking challenge?

Winter is a time for rest and hibernation, but many hikers get excited over the prospect of enjoying their favorite sport this season. Many things can go wrong when going on a winter hike, such as falling sick or suffering from frostbite. If you want to ensure safety, then follow some basic rules for preparing for a winter hike.

Hiking during winter time can offer a refreshing change of pace from the busy city life, especially if you live somewhere where snowfall is rare or nonexistent. Hikes take place in various locations around the world depending on their interest and weather conditions. Winter hikes include ice climbing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, among other options.

For those who enjoy hiking, the cold weather means less sweat and chills, plus better visibility and reduced risk of hypothermia. Some hikers prefer to carry extra layers and thermal clothing to stay warm throughout the season. Others simply choose to bundle up well before heading out into the wild. If you love these activities, you might need to prepare ahead of time.

Before embarking on a long hike, these are the essentials you should pack

Warm clothes

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It’s no secret how cold it gets at altitude (or any elevation), especially if you’re hiking in the mountains. When you get above 10,000 feet, it can drop below freezing even in mid-summer. And while snowfall is not unheard of, high elevations often mean long stretches without any precipitation whatsoever. That means warm clothes are necessary — unless you want to freeze solid before reaching your destination. You should always bring warm clothes and layers, even if it’s only 20 degrees out. Make sure you have several pairs of socks and shoes that go with each layer and carry extra outfits in case something happens to your first set. In addition, make sure you have some kind of water resistant jacket that goes under everything else. This way, no matter what happens, you’ll still be able to stay dry.

Waterproof shoes

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Consider putting on waterproof boots are only useful for those who spend their days wading around rivers and lakes, but they’re just as helpful when tackling snowy slopes. Sure, they might look odd among your hiking gear, but they’ll protect your feet from both wetness and debris. If you don’t have a pair already, pick ones that fit well and feel comfortable enough to wear to bed at night. It is as important to keep your feet warm as it is to keep your hands warm. Besides you can bring gloves that will provide you with that warmth, there are also small devices that are intended for the same purpose. If you visit ocoopa.com on their website you can find what you need about golf hand warmer.

A hat

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Whether you need protection from sunburn or raindrops, a good head covering might seem unnecessary until you realize that you could easily lose 30% of your body heat simply from exposed skin. Bring along something that fits snugly over your forehead and ears, yet still provides adequate ventilation. You don’t want anything weighing down your face, either!

Extra socks

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If you’ve ever taken off your hiking boots, you know how chilly toes can become after hours spent in them. Even if you don’t plan to walk through deep snow, chances are you’ll encounter patches where the ground is colder than usual. To avoid blisters, bring along several pairs of extra socks, including woolen ones for the cooler temperatures. Be sure to wear these underneath your regular footwear rather than over them, though; otherwise, you won’t be able to take advantage of the insulation provided by your boot liners.

Sunscreen

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When planning a trip away from town, sunscreen should always be one of your first purchases. While it doesn’t stop you from enjoying the scenery, sunlight exposure becomes increasingly harmful the higher you climb. Plus, as you make your way toward the peaks, the weather tends to change rapidly, making it harder to tell whether or not you were adequately protected throughout the day. Before leaving on an excursion, fill a small bottle with some of your favorite lotion or cream and keep it near your backpack.

Food and water

Your body relies heavily on nutrition and hydration. Make sure to pack enough food and drinking water for the duration of your trip, especially if you plan on hiking for several days. If possible, carry a stove and cooking supplies so you don’t have to rely entirely on the food you packed. Bring food and snacks, especially those made of protein like beef jerky or nuts/seeds. These foods won’t spoil easily, you can eat them anywhere without to have to worry about access to clean drinking water, and they last longer than dried fruits. Keep an eye out for bears and other wildlife while you’re out hiking, and if anything does happen to you, you’ll want to be safe as long as possible.

First aid kit

While you probably wouldn’t consider carrying along a full medical kit on a weekend backpacking trek, you’d probably agree that a basic first aid kit is indispensable. At the minimum, you’ll want to include bandages, antiseptic ointment, tweezers, scissors, alcohol pads, antibiotic pills, plasters, and safety pins. Not all kits are the same, however, so pay attention to what you’re buying. If possible, purchase items specifically designed for use outdoors or by hikers. Otherwise, you’ll end up using your home supplies instead of treating an injury.

A compass

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Just about any map app on your phone will work fine, plus a paper map would be good to have around in case your phone dies. As long as you know where north is, you can figure out where you are heading. It’s always nice to have directions and waypoints along the trail. Even if you can figure out where you’re headed once you reach your destination, it can still be helpful to have a map ahead of time. You can download maps onto your smartphone using Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way when you hit the trails this season. Whether you’re looking to tackle a new route or just get outside more often, we hope you enjoy your adventures!


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com