There’s nothing quite like getting into the great outdoors during the colder months and experiencing nature during winter, but it can also come with a whole new range of perils and dangers that people just aren’t prepared for.
We’ve answered some of your winter hiking FAQs to give you a little more information on getting outside during winter.
If you forget all else when you’re hiking and camping in the winter, here are three things that you must remember:
Although you might not feel as thirsty as you do when hiking in the heat, the drier air in these conditions means you’re actually a lot more dehydrated than usual. When you’re dehydrated well your blood can flow properly which means you’re less likely to feel the cold.
Every good hiker knows this mantra when hiking during winter, and it can literally save your life. Layer your clothes as if you were an onion, and you can easily remove or add more as the day goes on.
Even if you had intended to head out somewhere in the morning, you still need to know the weather conditions. Don’t risk hiking and camping in snow storms or blizzards, as you can always postpone your plans until things have cleared up.
There are a few measures you can take including insulated shoes, double layered socks, and waterproof outer pants. Dress for the conditions you’re heading into, and if you think it’s going to be colder than usual it never hurts to pack extra layers of clothing.
One of the best ways to pass the time is watching the sunsets themselves, as these will look particularly spectacular during winter. Otherwise, you can build a fire, do your prep for the following day, spend more time on cooking, and get some reading done while cozied up for the night.
The Wilderness Society listed their top 20 picks for winter time, including quite a few choices in Utah. If you’re lucky enough to get to the state, you can try out Arches National Park or even Bryce Canyon National Park for vastly different landscapes.
Although it’s hard to choose from all of the states, particularly when you consider how amazing they look in the light of winter, the top picks would be Utah, Arizona, and Washington. Each of these looks completely different to their usual warm hiking and camping landscape, so they can’t be missed.
Your clothing choices will need to be far more in depth than standard hiking, and you’ll need to be aware of weather conditions in your proposed destination.
This is recommended for experienced hikers only, or those who are traveling with someone experienced. If you’re thinking of going above the treeline, you should also carry with you:
If you’re planning to explore above the treeline then conditions are particularly windy and can do severe damage to an unprepared body. Keep your face and body shielded from the wind and have emergency supplies such as a beacon just in case.
Depending on how long you intend to venture out for, a good sized backpack is 35-45L. You’ll need side compression straps or a shovel pocket so that you can store skis, snowshoes, and anything other bulky required for this weather.
Some of the benefits of hiking in the winter include being mostly alone and enjoying solitude, appreciating views that you normally can’t get during summer, and exploring new terrain and areas that you possibly couldn't reach without the help of snow and ice.
Hiking during summer can be dangerous enough, so winter, in particular, needs extra care and attention to prepare for. Always stay updated on weather conditions before you head out and have your emergency packs ready should the worst happen.
Winter hiking and camping can treat you to some of the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer, provided you stay safe and comfortable along the way.