Hiking isn’t just a summer activity! The fall and winter months offer new elements and sights to experience, not to mention a completely different set of challenges. Avid U.S. traveler and hiker James Hutchinson offers some great safety tips for winter hiking.
First, Hutchinson points out the need to check the weather forecast, paying attention to the expected high and low temperatures as well as the time for sunset. Days are shorter during the winter months, so the duration of your hike should be as well. Make sure you check the day of your departure as opposed to the week before — weather forecasts change.
Dressing appropriately for a winter hike is imperative to managing your safety, and layers are key. In summary, Hutchinson recommends waterproof boots, thick socks, good jeans with long undergarments, and at least three layers on top including a sweatshirt and overcoat. Wear gloves and a hat as well. Also consider using a ski mask or scarf to cover the exposed areas of your face.
Hutchinson also offers tips for planning a safe route. He recommends selecting a familiar route that allows you to return with plenty of daylight left. He says to consider planning a route that crosses busy areas where you could potentially stop for warmth or help.