How To Hike Safely In Winter

Walking in the winter can be a magical experience, but of course it is often the most dangerous time of year. Here are some tips to bear in mind when venturing out to upland areas in ice and snow, to help ensure that your experience is memorable and rewarding.


Dress for the weather

In cold temperatures, the key is to wear layers of moisture wicking fabric. Add a long-sleeved thermal base-layer, teamed with lightweight leggings. A fleece makes an ideal mid layer, and a breathable waterproof jacket will keep out the weather and allow you to sweat. Avoid wearing moisture retaining fabrics such as cotton and heavy knitted garments.

Wrap up hands and feet, and protect the face to avoid frostbite, with lined water proof gloves, a neck gaiter or scarf, and a balaclava or a generously sized hat. Well-fitting boots with sturdy rubber soles and warm thick socks are essential.


Pack the right kit

It’s best to pack for the worst-case scenario if you are going out for the whole day. Take extra energy-giving food and a hot flask, plus plenty of water. A torch, map, compass, first aid kit, and spare clothes, an emergency shelter and roll mat are the very least items you should pack for mountain walking in winter.


Have lines of communication ready

Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. Make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged, and have emergency contact numbers programmed in. If you are going to out of range of a signal, some means to attract attention if you are lost, such as a whistle or flares, will be necessary.

Finally, keep an eye on the weather forecast and know when to turn back if things take a turn for the worse. Avoid walking alone, and in snow and ice, at least one of you should have some previous experience of using kit such as crampons and ice axes.


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