The Best Tips For Winter Hiking And Camping

The Best Tips For Winter Hiking And Camping

Maryland and the Washington, DC areas are amazing places to get involved with nature. Not only do we have access to amazing portions of the Appalachian Trail, but due to the excellent job done by the National Park Service, we also have great areas for hiking, camping and enjoying all types of outdoors activities at our many natural parks.

Another great aspect to consider is that our weather provides us with a great opportunity to enjoy summer activities during the middle of the year and also some great cold hiking and camping in these winter months.

Aside from the parks, there are also many different places to choose from if you are inclined to get involved with some winter outdoor activities, and perhaps at a later post, we may talk about these amazing locales to greater detail. However, today here at Sudir Raju’s blog want to talk to you about some basic tips to take your adventures outside even in the cold weather. Most people getting started with hiking and camping usually try it during the most optimal weather conditions and that is why today we want to touch up on some basic tips to help you enjoy the most out of your winter outdoor experience.

Forest winter
Image by GabeD | Flickr

Layer up

It is obvious that you need to stay warm while you are camping or hiking in the outdoors, especially during the winter months. However, this doesn’t mean you should pack with you the heaviest jacket and gloves you have and call it a day. It is much better to use layers of thinner clothing that you can put on or remove as you see fit. When you are walking, you are more active and thus your body generates heat making it less necessary to wear as much clothing as when you are resting. The rule of thumb would be to wear as little as possible as you can to feel comfortable, yet not so warm that you will sweat. If you sweat, that moisture will become very cold due to the weather and you will get chills, you will have to change your clothing or become more prone to suffer from a cold weather injury. Learn to layer up and dress accordingly.

Protect yourself

People wear cold weather pants and jackets but often forget to protect their hands and face properly. You can hurt your face and eyes if they are exposed to the cold for too long, so wearing a nice pair of glasses and a balaclava with the proper wool hat is highly recommended. Your hands also need to be protected because it is very easy to hurt yourself when working with your bare fingers in freezing temperatures. There are thinner gloves you can wear while doing manual labor and thicker ones or mittens to use as you walk or rest. Remember that wearing sunscreen is very necessary during the winter as well. Just because you don’t feel the heat of the sun it doesn’t mean it cannot burn your skin. 

Use your phone

Use technology to your advantage. There are many weather and survival apps that can help keep track of your position and the weather conditions. It is important to know that weather changes must be taken seriously during the winter because storms are not as forgiving and a bad snowstorm can turn into a real emergency quickly. Look for apps that give you access to weather radars and check the forecast constantly. It is crucial to be informed and to make quick changes to your itinerary if you need to avoid adverse weather conditions.

snow camping
Image by Tim Berger | Flickr

Carry water, food and matches

Sometimes people forget to drink water if they are not feeling the heat as they do during the summer and that can lead to dangerous dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water, do it regularly and track your water intake jealousy. Bring more water than you think you’ll need as well as high-calorie foods you can consume during your walking. Matches or some means to start a fire are also useful even if you are just going for a day trek. Perhaps you want to take a break, sit down and enjoy a sandwich by a small fire. It can be truly uplifting if you manage to do so, so just have those in case you feel the need.

Bring more fuel than you think

Fuel is important for cooking if you are going to camp overnight. Cooking out there is a great wait to get a warm meal and to melt snow in case you need more water. Melted water can be consumed if treated properly and if processed the right way. You can also use it to clean utensils and equipment. When you are camping during the winter, you will need more fuel than usual, so make sure you plan accordingly and bring an extra can of fuel if you can. Warm meals really do make a difference out there, so make sure you treat yourself.