Although we’re still a couple of days away from the official start of Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, much of the United States has already been hit with plenty of cold and snow. Of course, that’s no reason to stay inside all the time! It just means we need to dig out the snow shoes and hit the trail in warmer clothes. Winter does bring a different set of challenges to being in the backcountry however, not the least of which is what you should carry in your pack. In the Summer you can get away with going lightweight and leaving some gear behind, but in the Winter, it’s better safe than sorry.
They start by examining our packs first and foremost. When hiking in the Winter it’s important that you have a decently sized pack to help carry the extra gear items that you’ll need to bring along, plus having a place for an ice axe or two, a set of crampons, and lets not forget that you’ll still need to carry water. Just because it’s not as hot as the Summer doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated.
The article goes on to suggest some spare clothing items to throw in your pack (warm, dry layers), an emergency shelter just in case you get caught out in the cold over night, and extra food and drink for the same reason. Further suggestions include bringing a cell phone or other means of communication (always a good idea no matter the season), as well as a head lamp, whistle, first aid kid, and more.
While much of this is common sense, it’s nice to have a bit of a refresher before you go on your next Winter hike. Organize your gear and pack ahead of time, and avoid leaving something essential behind. The Winter is a perfect time to hit the trail, as long as you’re organized and prepared. But then again, what do I know? It’s 73 degrees here in Austin, TX today. 😉
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