Maybe they call it fall because that’s what happens to the leaves, or maybe it’s for an entirely different reason. Either way, leaves on the ground is usually a sign that winter is just around the corner. For many mountain lovers, especially hikers, this means that they will soon be trapped indoors until the snow melts and they can return to the hills. Fortunately this doesn’t have to be the case. With the right equipment and a bit of planning, the mountains can be enjoyed year round. Here are 5 tips that will help you stay active on the trails, even when they’re covered in snow.
1. Wear the right clothes
You’ll be a lot warmer when you’re trudging uphill than when you’re resting or going down. Dressing in layers allows you to easily regulate your temperature by adding or removing a layer of clothing as needed. The essentials are a base layer next to your skin, a layer of insulation (fleece, down, or a synthetic puffy), and then a protective shell in case the weather gets nasty.
2. Stay Hydrated
Because you’re generally not sweating as much, it’s easy to forget to drink water during winter workouts. Sweating and breathing still use up your body’s water supply so make sure to bring liquids, whether in a hydration pack or water bottle. It’s always better to bring more water than you think you’ll need, just in case.
3. Think About Traction
It goes without saying that trails might be a bit icy and possibly even covered in fresh snow during the winter, but we’ll say it anyway. Be sure that you have a general idea of what trail conditions will be like so that you can bring the right traction device. Sometimes boots or even trail runners will be enough, but other times you’ll want to bring a pair of Yaktrax or a similar device that attaches to the bottom of shoes or boots. When the conditions include recent snowfall or your journey takes you off trail, snowshoes are helpful not only in providing traction, but also keeping you on top of the snow.
4. Watch the Weather
It’s important to check the weather forecast before embarking on any winter adventure, especially ones far away from home. Conditions can quickly change, particularly near mountain peaks, so you’ll need to be ready for anything the weather could throw your way. Don’t be afraid to turn around when things look grim or the conditions reach an unsafe level.
5. Bring the Right Gear
Nothing takes the fun out of winter hiking like cold hands and wet feet. Luckily there are plenty of solutions to keeping your fingers, toes, and ears dry and ready for adventure. Outdoor Designs creates products specifically to keep you warm and comfortable while enjoying the outdoors. The Skyline Gaiters are an excellent option for keeping mud and snow from getting inside your boots, and the Diablo GTT gloves provide the perfect balance of protection and breathability for high output winter activities. Check out the full lineup here.
If you plan on heading to the mountains this winter, be sure to follow these tips to stay warm, dry, safe, and happy.