After outfitting yourself with the proper winter gear, you then need to focus on staying hydrated and properly fueled while out on the trail. Hiking in the cold, especially in snow, burns more calories. By some estimates, hikers can burn as much as 50 percent more calories when compared to similar distances and terrain in the summer.
And by not consuming enough calories while on the trail you become prone to getting cold faster. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks with you to munch on periodically throughout your hike. Watch out for foods that can freeze solid, such as some power bars. Or, instead of storing in your backpack, put some snacks inside your fleece jacket. Your body should generate enough heat to prevent them from freezing.
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it can actually be easier to experience dehydration in the winter, versus hiking in the summer.
Dehydration can occur faster in cold weather because the air is much drier. Moreover, dehydration can be dangerous because it can accelerate hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure you bring plenty of liquids with you, and drink often while on the trail.
If you’re storing water bottles in your backpack during a very cold day, you may need to insulate them to prevent them from freezing. An old wool sock will work in this case. Also, you may want to turn the bottle upside down to prevent the water from freezing at the neck. If you plan to be out for several hours, consider bringing a thermos containing a hot drink, or even soup.
Become Versed in All Possible Hazards
Other winter hazards hikers need to be aware of include hiking in steep terrain that’s prone to avalanches, or a storm that covers the trail with fresh snow, thus making navigation difficult. You should always carry a topographical map and a compass with you in case you ever need help finding your way back to the trailhead if you were to become lost.
Other gear to bring with you includes a first aid kit, firestarter, waterproof matches, a pocket knife, an emergency blanket and maybe even a bivy sack.
Finally, let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who to call if they don’t hear back from you at a specified time.
With a little care and preparation up front, anyone can discover the joys of winter hiking.
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