Safety Tips for Hiking in the Winter

This winter season, many restrictions are coming into effect because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While packed restaurants and similar locations may be off-limits, state governments might still allow hiking because people typically don't stand close together on trails. Before you complete your plans for a trip, though, take a moment to brush up on some safety tips for hiking in the winter.

Outdoor conditions in the cold can be treacherous if you come unprepared. If you decide not to hike this season, you can use these pointers for future excursions as well.

Check the Conditions

While looking up potential destinations for your hike, you should make sure to check the conditions for the day. Possible risks include inclement weather and the likelihood of avalanches. Should you see that either of these conditions are not looking favorable for a safe hike, you should move on to another hiking spot or set another date. You can find this information by visiting local websites that monitor local weather and mountain conditions, or by contacting the park staff or rangers via phone.

Know How to Navigate

Snow envelops the landscape in a beautiful white covering, but it can also make everything appear the same. This means it's easy for you to get lost without even realizing it. For this reason, whenever you go hiking in the winter, it's important to know how to navigate well using a compass and map. These tools will help you know exactly where you are, and will be more reliable than relying on landmarks.

Look up guides online or sign up for navigation courses to learn these skills. You might want to practice near your home or in a hiking spot that you already know before tackling unfamiliar trails.

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Keep Yourself Warm

Maintaining body warmth is crucial when temperatures outside are freezing. If you get too cold, you may experience hypothermia or frostbite. Protect yourself by layering your clothing effectively. Your outer jacket and pants should be waterproof and windproof, while underneath, you should be wearing insulating layers. Wear synthetic or wool fabrics next to your skin to wick away sweat. Staying warm while hiking also involves protecting your extremities. You should seek to cover up as much of your body as possible with gloves, a hat, a neck gaiter, and warm socks. Going for heavy-duty waterproof boots will keep your feet dry while walking through snow.

If you do decide to brave the wilderness, enjoy the adventure and stay as safe and warm as possible!


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