Sunny summiteers, fear not; the days may be closing in but with my top tips, you can keep hiking in winter.
There’s something about winter that makes even the most mundane landscape seem magical, doesn’t it? A thin dusting of snow transforms a trail you might have visited dozens of times into a whole new place. When hiking in winter though, even around trails you have hiked before, extra precautions have to be taken. Avoid common hazards and make the most of your wintry days out on the hills with my top tips!
1. Go hiking earlier, return earlier.
There’s fewer hours of daylight in the winter – make the most of the sunshine and start hiking as soon as the sun comes up. This might require more planning, particularly for hikers that rely on public transport, but in return you’ll have a full day outdoors and choice of the best seats in the empty pub when you finish ahead of the others on the hills!
2. Pack appropriate layers to stay warm and dry.
A layering system that keeps hikers warm and dry is essential to hiking in winter. This doesn’t mean wear loads of layers either; you’ll still get cold from sweating too much one you pause for a break. Wearing base-layer, insulation and waterproof layers are essential, as are additional accessories like gloves and hats. Check out my full guide on how to layer clothes for winter hiking.
3. Pack a head torch.
A head torch should be taken on every hike, but especially in winter. While all precautions can be made, sometimes a wrong turn can mean your winter hike takes an extra couple of hours to complete. Phones aren’t a suitable replacement for head torches either, as cold temperatures can rapidly drain the battery of some models. Inexpensive head torches can be found at stores like Decathlon, and other stores like Cotswold Outdoor offer regular discounts too.
4. Wear shoes with waterproofing and good, grippy insoles.
Trails can be covered in a thin sheen of ice in the winter, making them slippery hazards. Trainers simply won’t do on this type of treacherous terrain. Not only that, but shoes without any waterproofing can become saturated, eventually soaking your socks and giving you freezing toes. Before hitting the trails for any hiking in winter, make sure your hiking boots have good grip on the soles, and some form of waterproofing. If you find yourself looking for a new pair, I’ve written a handy guide for finding the perfect hiking boots for your feet.
5. Bring extra snacks.
Your body burns extra calories to keep you warm when hiking in winter. Keep yourself hydrated and energised by eating regularly and bringing high-energy foods like nuts or dried fruits. Avoid foods like energy bars, as these can harden in the frosty temperatures.