Packing the right gear is crucial for having a secure and pleasant winter hike.
Hiking within the winter calls for extra. More preparedness and more planning. More outdoor experience and talent, and—perhaps most easily overlooked—more time. The chilly months require higher decision-making and a more cautious mindset. The similar path you hiked in summer season six months in the past is a special world now. Just as a wind chill intensifies the chilly, winter has a method of magnifying mistakes.
Knowing what you’re stepping into, checking the climate, making a friend conscious of your plans, carrying and carrying the appropriate gear for the time of yr and terrain: these are the fundamentals of mountaineering any time of yr. But they’re never extra necessary than in winter.
If you are new to winter mountaineering and don’t know tips on how to begin, consider venturing into the backcountry with an AMC Wilderness Guide or participating in a local hike led by an AMC Chapter. Using guidebooks to search out hikes in your space or enhance your outside expertise can be helpful.
The following gear record is meant as a resource for winter day hike preparation. Not every individual might need to convey each merchandise. When you head into the backcountry, you are answerable for assessing the terrain, current situations, and what objects you want to have in your pack to outlive if you encounter a mishap or sustain an harm. If you are staying at the AMC Highland Center in New Hampshire, our workers can help equip you for a day hike utilizing gear from our L.L.Bean Gear Room.
Snowshoers benefit from the trails around AMC’s Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins within the Maine Woods.
One of the most effective methods to stay safe on a backcountry winter outing is to keep your toes warm and dry. Strong, dry toes are vital not only to maintain moving on a backcountry hike or ski, however to rescue your self ought to an emergency arise.
Boots: Waterproof and insulated to a temperature rating of zero levels for lower-elevation backcountry climbing or snowshoeing. For extra advanced mountaineering at larger elevations, choose boots which might be insulated to temperature score of 20 to forty degrees beneath zero. If you would possibly be hiking in icy conditions in higher elevation areas, your boots might have to be appropriate with crampons—whose lengthy spikes give winter hikers significantly extra traction and stability.
Hiking socks: Made from wool or artificial material. These materials will maintain your feet warm even when they get moist. Bringing an additional pair is beneficial.
Gaiters: A waterproof garment that protects in opposition to rain and snow. It is worn over your climbing boot and stretches up your lower pant leg to knee top.
Snowshoes: Footwear for strolling on snow. You ought to convey snowshoes that are designed for flat to rolling terrain. Be sure to make changes and test them out at home earlier than utilizing them on a hike. If you’re planning to hike in greater elevation areas, you’ll want snowshoes that are designed for steep terrain. (Read our snowshoeing information for beginners.)
Microspikes: Chains and small spikes which might be worn over your hiking boots for additional traction on relatively flat to moderately steep terrain. Make certain that your spikes fit over your hiking boots before hitting the trail.
Dressing for winter is all about layering. You could not put on each clothing item in your pack at a given time, however having additional layers to vary into is essential when you get moist or when temperatures drop. Make certain you don’t put on any garments made out of cotton. This fabric absorbs moisture easily and, when moist, will rapidly draw heat away from your physique. A lack of proper insulation can cause disorientation, hypothermia or, in extreme cases, death.
Base layer: Long- or short-sleeve shirt made out of synthetic/wicking material.
Mid-layer: Long- or short-sleeve shirt made out of wool or wool/synthetic blended materials. If the weather is going to be cold, it’s a good suggestion to convey an additional mid-layer with you.
Outer-layer: Lightweight fleece.
Insulating layer: Down or fiber parka. If possible, having a parka with a hood is good because it can be used to insulate your head and neck as properly.
Shell: Windproof/waterproof breathable layer that is large enough to fit over a quantity of layers you may already be wearing.
Well-outfitted AMC Family Adventure individuals get pleasure from snowshoeing in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest.
Bottom layers, like top layers, should be made out of non-cotton materials. As at all times, pack extra layers in your hike in the event that issues don’t go to plan, similar to experiencing an surprising chilly front.
Base layer: Leggings or long underwear produced from wool or artificial materials. Depending on the temperature and weather conditions, you presumably can choose to either start the hike by carrying or packing this layer.
Mid-layer: Leggings or pants created from lightweight fleece or warm synthetic material.
Shell: Pants which might be windproof/waterproof and breathable. Having a shell with a full aspect zipper is highly recommended.
Combine a hat with a neck gaiter for optimal heat.
Head and Hands
As with the other layers, keep away from clothes that is made out of cotton or other non-insulating supplies, similar to leather.
Hat: Completely covers your head and ears and is made out of fleece or wool. Bringing an additional hat is beneficial.
Neck Gaiter: Worn around the neck for warmth and made from artificial or fleece. This is also identified as a neck hotter or buff.
Gloves: Made from fleece, wool, or artificial materials, not leather. Bringing an additional pair of gloves is recommended.
Mittens: Worn over your gloves as an exterior wind/waterproof layer in your hands. Bringing an extra pair of mittens is really helpful.
Balaclava and/or face mask: Worn over your head and/or face and made from artificial materials or fleece.
Sunglasses: Protects your eyes from dangerous UV rays that replicate off of snow and ice within the winter.
Avalanche training individuals at AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge verify their avalanche beacons.
Above Treeline Gear
Additional objects could additionally be required for extreme situations, corresponding to prolonged above-treeline travel or journey in avalanche terrain. Some of this tools requires specialized instruction and data, follow, and a capability to take your self and/or your group into harsh, usually unforgiving circumstances. Without the proper training, sure items, corresponding to an ice axe or avalanche beacon, are useless should you don’t know the method to use them. If you have an interest in studying more, consider attending one of the workshops or programs provided by AMC and its native Chapters.
Insulating layer: “Puffy pants” created from down or fiber parka.
Crampons: Traction units used to journey on snow and ice in steeper terrain. The variety of points, or spikes, on the underside of crampons typically enhance when wanted for more technical terrain. For instance, most snow strolling and common mountaineering crampons could have eight to 10 points, whereas crampons used for mountain climbing could have 14 points or more. Make sure to fit your crampons to your boots earlier than occurring a hike.
Avalanche beacon: An electrical device worn on the body that each emits and receives radio indicators. If somebody is buried in an avalanche and their beacon is turned to the receive setting, different members of their celebration can use their very own beacons to locate the victim underneath the snow. Taking an avalanche security course is extremely beneficial when you plan to recreate in areas with avalanche risks.
Extensive first help package: A medical equipment that treats minor accidents, corresponding to blisters or cuts, as properly as more critical ones, like a damaged bone. We highly advocate taking a Wilderness First Aid Course so that you are correctly ready to cope with injuries within the backcountry.
Tinted Goggles: Ski goggles or glacier glasses that will help protect your eyes from sunlight reflecting off ice and snow. Overexposure to UV rays in winter could cause a painful circumstances referred to as snow blindness.
Ice axe: A 65 to seventy five cm lengthy mountaineering axe with a strap. Shorter technical mountain climbing axes normally don’t work as nicely in case you are trying to self arrest, which is stopping your self from sliding down an icy/snowy incline. Taking a mountaineering or outside expertise course to be taught the right approach for self arresting is highly recommended.
Fueling your physique with correct nutrition is essential on winter adventures, when you’ll burn more calories than you’ll in other seasons.
Food and Water
When climbing in chilly weather, your body requires much more gas to keep shifting and stay warm. For a typical winter day hike, the vitality expended might be 2,000 to three,000 more calories over what you normally eat. Hiking in these conditions isn’t the time to food plan. Make certain you might be eating and drinking water incessantly so as to avoid dehydration and depleted power levels.
Water: At least 2 liters. You can stop the liquid from freezing by insulating your waters bottles with a bottle holder or an old wool sock. We do not suggest climbing with water bladders because they typically freeze.
Hot drink: Hot chocolate, tea, or sizzling water in a thermos or other insulated container. Having entry to a scorching, sugary drink can help you heat up when you begin to feel chilled.
Food: High-calorie energy food that gained’t freeze. Some examples embrace, dried fruit, candy, bagels, bread, preserved meats or cheese, fruitcake, small sandwiches, nuts, and cookies. Remember that you’ll need extra meals and snacks than you’d for a hike in the course of the summer.
Read extra about nutrition and hydration for a winter hike.
Trekking poles may help provide extra stability and scale back knee impact throughout winter hikes.
Backpack: Medium to massive measurement with an adjustable waist belt. You typically carry extra gear in the winter that is bulkier and heavier. Make positive your pack can accommodate every thing that you want.
Pack cover/liner: External cover to guard your backpack from snow and rain. You can use a plastic compactor bag if your backpack doesn’t come with a canopy.
Trekking poles: Poles with handles that present extra stability and lowered drive in your knees whereas hiking. We recommend using flick-lock type poles with snow bales on the underside.
Whistle: Helps others locate you in an emergency. A whistle is a simpler way to call for help in the backcountry than your voice. Blow three loud, quick blasts to make a misery call.
Headlamp: Light source for climbing on the path, reading your map, or organising camp. Make positive to check the batteries earlier than you employ a headlamp on a hike and pack a spare set of batteries.
Map/Compass: Navigation tools for monitoring your location and the progress of your hike. While GPS items can be helpful, you want to always carry a map of the world you will be mountaineering or recreating in and a compass. Remember to leave a duplicate and itinerary of your route at residence or with a good friend. Don’t know how to use a map and compass? Check out certainly one of AMC’s outside abilities programs.
Emergency blanket or bivy: Shelters that will provide safety towards the weather in an emergency situation.
Lighter: Fire starter that may assist provide heat or signal for assist.
Knife: All-purpose tool for gear repairs, cutting fabric to make bandages, eradicating splinters, etc.
Lip balm: Prevents your lips for drying out and cracking, which could be painful.
Sunscreen: Protects your pores and skin from UV Rays that reflect off of snow and ice. Bring sunscreen that’s no much less than 20+ SPF.
Hand heaters: Small packets that produce warmth and are put inside gloves to heat your hands.
Foam pad: Insulates from the cold of the ground so that you simply don’t lose physique heat when sitting or lying down on the pad. This is great for when you need to take a break during your hike and it will defend you if you’re compelled to shelter in place.
Dry clothes: Change into these when you might have finished your hike and get back to your car. It’s a pleasant deal with for the journey residence.
This listing was tailored from the AMC Worcester Chapter’s Winter Hiking Gear List and parts of AMC Essential Guide to Winter Recreation.