If you’re planning to hike in the snow, you’re up for some memorable experience of your lifetime.
Hiking in the snow can be adventurous and thrilling, and alongside offers the miraculous view of mountains and landscapes.
But hiking in the snow can also be equally challenging and dangerous as compared to other trails. So before you begin your trip, there are some tips that you must know.
Let’s get started:
1. Dress in Layers
Dressing in layers is the key to being outside in the snow or cold weather. According to science, you should dress in multiple layers rather than a single thick layer. When you wear multiple layers, this provides multiple insulations to the heat from your body. Less cold air will enter inside and less heat will escape from your body to outside.
Generally, 3 layers of clothes will do but, of course, add or remove as you need:
- Bottom layer: This is the closest layer to your skin. It is best to wear a moisture absorbing shirt or thermal layer.
- Mid layer: You can put on a polyester synthetic woolen jacket in the middle layer.
- Outer layer: Always wear water and windproof jacket and pants from the outside. This will prevent the snow or cold wind from entering the inner layers.
Other essentials for hiking in the snow are wind/waterproof hiking gloves, at least two pairs of waterproof woolen socks, woolen bandana/scarf, and waterproof hiking boots.
2. Check the Weather
Well, you obviously know this. But still, just to be on the safe side, it is necessary to check the weather conditions for your hiking trip and not just the temperature. Check the forecast for any news of avalanche, precipitation, wind speed and chances of snowfall.
Hiking in the snow and winter season can be dangerous if you are not prepared enough. Many lose their tracks in a snow blizzard, many get buried under an avalanche.
But do not worry!
Doing some research on weather reports will get you going. And if the conditions are unfavorable, you can always postpone your hiking.
3. Never Hike Alone
Though you might prefer to hike alone, it is better to bring a buddy with you. Hiking in the snow is quite dangerous and you never know when you might run into emergencies. Hiking with some company is fun as well as safer.
There are always risks of getting injured, falling, freezing, and getting frostbite. In such situations, having someone by your side is always helpful. Plus, hiking in a group is always useful for splitting gears and for motivation as well.
4. Crampons and Other Safety Gears
Hiking in snow and winter is pretty risky as compared to hiking in other seasons and terrain. You can easily lose your track in snowfall as the trail gets covered in snow. The trail might be way too slippery or your feet might sink in the snow.
Safety gears might just be a lifesaver in case of an emergency. A little precaution never does any harm now does it?
Aside from your hiking clothes and hiking gears, you should always have a first aid kit, a compass, a pocket knife, a trail map, and a headlamp. When you are with someone, you can always split the safety gear. This reduces the load and keeps you ready in case of emergencies.
You can also consider bringing a sleeping bag and sleeping pad with you. Your backpack might be a little heavier but it will help you avoid the frostbite in case you have to camp on a mountain.
Crampons or microspikes are the spiky clip-on for your hiking boots which help you get a firm grip in the snow. Crampons help make the balance in the slippery snow thus making your hike a safe one.
5. Gaiters and Snowshoe
Gaiters are great to protect your inners from getting wet in the snow. Gaiters seal the gap between the boot and your pants thus keeping the snow out. Also, bring an extra pair of socks in case the first pair gets wet in snow.
Snowshoeing is a great way to hike in the snow. It involves wearing footwear designed to displace your weight over a larger area. It is meant to prevent snow accumulation and snow drifting. Displacement of weight also prevents sinking in the snow thus making hiking in the snow fun and comfortable.
Snowshoes come in three different sizes (22”, 25” and 30” sizes). Your shoe size depends on your weight. More your weight, the longer shoe you will need.
6. Start Early and Finish Early
In the winter season, sunlight hours are limited. Starting early in the morning will give you some more daylight hours. You can utilize most of your time hiking in the daylight. Snow trails can be tricky, so set a realistic target to cover in the daylight.
In winter, the sun sets 2-3 hours early and in the mountainous regions, it might even be 4 hours earlier. Reach your target before the sun goes down.
7. Stay Hydrated
Many people might neglect drinking water when they are hiking in the snow or when it is cold outside. But know that your metabolism is much faster in a cold environment than normal. This causes dehydration if you don’t drink sufficient water.
Always take a water bottle and cover it with wool socks to keep it insulated. This prevents the water from freezing in low temperatures. Take regular sips of water throughout the day.
8. Pack some Snacks
Every few miles, treat yourself with snacks. Always bring the food you can eat on the go because let’s be real – No one likes to take a break and sit on cold ice for a snack.
Take some fruit, nuts, and chocolate bars with you. Hiking takes up a lot of energy and periodic snacking helps to replenish your energy and keeps you in going.
9. Know How to Prevent Frostbite
Frostbite can be a major risk when hiking in the snow. Preventing and taking care of frostbite is crucial as it can be fatal if not taken care of. Without continuous attention and care in the cold weather, you might also suffer from hypothermia.
Symptoms of hypothermia
- Uncontrollable shivering
- Slurry speech
- Drowsiness and lethargy
Read the following tips to prevent frostbite when hiking in snow and winter
- Staying warm: It is the most crucial measure to prevent frostbite. Properly dress up for the snow hiking as mentioned in tip number 1. Wear three layers of clothing, winter hat or earmuffs, woolen scarfs, gloves, woolen socks, and gaiters.
- Rub: If you feel your finger, toes or any part is getting cold and numb, stop immediately. Rub the part to generate some heat. Placing your hand under your armpits can also be another trick.
- Stay alert: Stay alert and watch out for yourself and your hiking partner.
- Warmup: After taking a break or resting for some time, it is better to do some warmup exercises before resuming the trail. This will heat up your body and promote better blood circulation.
So these were the 9 awesome tips for hiking in the snow. Follow them and get ready for your hiking adventure in the snow.