Essential Tips for First-Time Winter Hiking

To many people, hiking just means walking for a really long time. While they’re technically not wrong, it’s all a matter of perspective. Hiking is a fantastic way to get active, spend time with your friends and family, and also enjoy some breathtaking scenery that you otherwise couldn’t see by driving. There’s something special about conquering a hiking route. It gives you satisfaction, it makes you feel accomplished and it offers a sense of wonder when you finally reach your destination.

But while most people enjoy hiking on rural paths in forests and countrysides, there is an increasing number of people that enjoy hiking in the snow during colder months. It’s far more challenging, it offers incredible views and it’s a completely different experience to regular hiking. However, it’s also far more dangerous considering the hazards and temperatures that you’re exposed to. In this article, we’ll be covering some essential tips for people that are tackling winter hiking for the first time. It requires a considerable amount of preparation and discipline, so we hope that these tips simplify things for you.

Source: (CC0)

Don’t try winter hiking alone if it’s your first time

One of the biggest tips we can offer is to never go alone. If you were to hurt yourself or get lost, then it’s far easier to recover when you have a trusted friend or family member with you. It might take some convincing to bring someone with you, but if you know someone like-minded then it’s a fantastic opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Alternatively, you can also go with a guide. Some locations offer group hiking opportunities with a trained expert. Not only does the group environment make it a fun social activity, but you’ll also get professional advice from someone who has done it before. You’ll learn a lot about winter hiking by speaking to more experienced hikers, and it’s a fun way to make friends. If you have the opportunity to go with friends and family members or even join a group hike led by a professional, we highly suggest it over going alone.

Invest in some winter hiking gear

There’s a lot more gear involved when it comes to winter hiking. Hiking on regular countryside routes can be done with just a good pair of boots and a backpack, but for winter hiking, you’re going to need a lot more equipment. This can often be the biggest hurdle to overcome for newcomers, but as long as you’re prepared, it’s actually far more manageable than you might think.

For starters, hiking microspikes are a must have in the snow. Your feet need to be as comfortable as possible and they need to provide traction for a variety of different surfaces. It’s very easy to fall on slick icy surfaces, so a good pair of microspikes will make a huge difference. You’ll also want to dress appropriately for winter hiking. This involves avoiding cotton (since it holds a lot of moisture) and using synthetic or wool for base layers. You also want to consider bringing waterproof clothing for the weather and even multiple pairs of socks and gloves to protect your fingers and toes. A face mask can also be useful for strong frigid winds.

Communication is important for safety

When it comes to hiking in hazardous winter conditions, communication is your friend. Whether it’s letting people know where you plan to hike if you’re solo, or having walkie-talkies to communicate with the rest of your group, there are plenty of ways to stay in touch with others. This will make it easy for you to report a problem should you encounter one. It’s not just about your own safety either. Being able to communicate with others will ensure that you can help others when they’re in need. This could be achieved through checking distress frequencies or simply listening for someone shouting out that they need help.

If you’re in an area with mobile reception then a smartphone is often enough. However, if you plan to hike in the snow somewhere more challenging, then bringing a radio and learning how to use it can save lives.

Winter hiking is a fantastic form of hiking that more people should try out. Yes, it’s more challenging and takes more preparation, but the rewards and feelings of accomplishment are also far greater. If you live in an area where you can hike in the snow on a fairly regular basis, then we highly suggest that you invest in some proper winter hiking gear and do it more often.