Hiking might seem like one of those activities you should only do in the summer, but if you have the right gear and supplies, you can hike all winter long too. Winter hikes are quite different from summer hikes. You’ll see different animals racing through the woods, face different obstacles as you walk and need different gear too. While you can spend a few hours or more enjoying the great outdoors on a cold winter day, you want to make sure that you prepare for that hike and that you bring the right supplies.
Map Out Your Route
Before heading out on your trip, sit down with a map of all the trails in the area to plan your route. Make a copy of that route that you leave behind with others. This ensures that someone knows where you are and that they can contact help if needed. As you plan your route, make sure that you map out some type of backup plan. You never know when a trail might be inaccessible because of ice or when heavy snow might make your favorite trail too dangerous to follow.
Pack the Right Supplies
Even if you only want to spend an hour outside, pack as if you planned a longer trip. Winter snow, ice and other hazards can impede your progress and leave you stuck in the woods for longer than you would like. Always have a GPS unit in your bag that can help you find alternative paths and routes through the woods. You should also bring along waterproof matches in case you need to start a fire, a small first aid kit and some basic food. Smart hikers always carry at least two bottles of water, dehydrated hiking food and candy or energy bars.
Wear the Right Gear
No matter how much you love winter, you might not feel the same way after hiking through several feet of snow. Wearing the right clothing and wearing multiple layers can help you stay warm and dry. Try layering a pair of polar fleece leggings underneath your regular pants and wearing a tank top, lightweight shirt and sweatshirt under your hiking jacket. You can also wear several pairs of socks with plastic sandwich bags inside your boots. Preparing the right way, including wearing the right clothing and packing the right gear, can help you stay safe on a winter hike.