If you live in a cold or snowy place it’s easy to be tempted to hunker down for the winter and stay off the trails. While our preferred forms of winter recreation and transportation are by cross-country ski or snowshoe we do in fact hike during the coldest winter months. And it’s pretty fun.
Here are a few tips for winter hiking.
- Dress in layers. Just like you would if you were cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and avoid cotton. This will keep you warm and dry, allowing you to add or shed layers as needed to keep from overheating and sweating or freezing.
- Hike with trekking poles. Trekking poles are awesome at helping a hiker maintain balance on slippery, slushy or icy terrain. There’s no need to get fancy, any old pair of ski poles will do, baskets on or off it really doesn’t matter.
- Invest in some traction. Grippers that you can easily slip on top of the soles of your boots are worth every penny. They are lightweight and can help keep you on your feet on slick trails. We’ve tried yak trax and stabilicers. We’re not nuts about yak trax but we love our stabilicers.
- Ditch the trail shoes for a good pair of boots. There’s a lot of debate in the hiker community about hiking shoes vs boots, its really all a matter of personal preference. Al and I are year-round boot wearers. In the winter boots are the best choice because they’ll keep your feet protected from wet conditions. We both love our Asolo TPS 520’s because they are comfortable, have good traction and keep the snow out. We keep the leather protected and water out with sno seal.
- Use gaiters. Gaiters are awesome at keeping snow or moisture from working its way into your boot and pants. Some of my most miserable winter hikes have occurred on days when I forgot my gaiters and ended up with cold, wet legs. I have a pair of OR gaiters and I love them (stay tuned for a review).
Do you hibernate or hike during the winter? What are your tips or must-have pieces of equipment?