While winter can be a more challenging time to get out and enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis, there are still opportunities to enjoy activities such as hiking. Hiking during the winter can provide the chance to take in beautiful views of the snowy terrain, and maybe even get out the snowshoes. Many people have some kind of idea as to what to bring in their hiking day pack, but this list will break down the ten essentials of what you should pack.
When it comes to navigation, a map and compass are essential. A good topographic map of the area you are hiking in can show you various trails and landmarks. Learning how to read a baseplate compass will also help if you become disoriented. While a GPS device works great, keep in mind that it will require batteries. If you’re traveling in the backcountry, it’s also a good idea to bring a personal locator beacon. This device can send out a message and determine your position if you’re in an area with poor cell service.
2. First Aid
You can buy a small first aid kit at most sporting goods stores, or you can make your own. Make sure you know how to use all the items in your first aid kit. Your kit should include bandages, gauze, gloves, tape, pain medication, and blister treatment.
3. Sun Protection
Even during the winter, protection from the sun is important. Having a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses can protect from your eyes from harmful sun rays and snow blindness. Sunscreen is also essential, especially at higher elevations. Even during colder months, the potential for sunburn is present.
A headlamp can help you find your way at night, as well as keep you hands-free to perform different tasks. Make sure to bring extra batteries!
If you run into an emergency, having supplies to start a fire is essential. A butane lighter or waterproof matches work well. Firestarter that will light quickly and burn for a few seconds will also be helpful. Candles, twine, and dryer lint all work well.
A good knife or multitool can be helpful when preparing food, repairing gear, or first aid. Depending on your needs, you can carry a basic folding knife, or a more elaborate multitool. Items for making repairs such as tape, cord, and zip ties can also be helpful.
It’s a good idea to bring a day’s worth of food when you’re hiking. Food such as jerky, granola bars, and dried fruit that don’t require cooking are all good options.
Keeping some type of emergency shelter such as a tarp, space blanket, or even trash bag can help protect you from wind and rain in case you become stranded.
Make sure you have enough water for your trip. Typically, you will need ½ liter per hour, but you’ll need to take into account other factors such as elevation and temperature. Carrying some type of water treatment method is also important in the backcountry.
The weather can turn quickly, especially at higher elevations, so it’s important to bring extra layers such as socks, gloves, and a jacket. For hiking in colder weather, carry extra layers for your upper and lower body.
Learning to pack these items, whether you are going on a day hike or into the backcountry is a good habit. Make sure to take into account the weather, distance you will be traveling, and the difficulty of your hike. Hopefully we’ll see you on the trail!
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