Many folks believe that when the cool air comes in it is time to put away your hiking boots for the season and forget about fresh air until spring. However, with the right supplies and clothing you can still enjoy hiking year-around.
This guide is set for winter weather hiking in the PNW, not specifically for snow travel or snow shoeing, though many of these tips apply. Snow travel requires additional avalanche prep and knowledge that will not be covered here.
Firstly, you want to make sure you are dressing in warm layers, with your outermost layer being waterproof, and your inner layers being…NOT COTTON. I cannot stress enough how much you do not want to wear cotton. So much not cotton. Obviously this will very based on the estimated temperature of your area.
- A base layer (think “long johns”).
- An insulating layer or two.
- Outer Water Proof Layer.
You will want to make sure you pack your “Ten Essentials Plus“. It is especially important that you carry extra food and water, as water sources may be frozen, and you burn more calories exercising in the cold than you do in the heat.
Finally, make sure you are doing all of your essential “R.A.D Plan” steps. In the winter you may come across unexpected travel impediments or lose your trail due to weather. As the trails will be less populated it will be harder to ask for help from other travelers. Know where you are going and have a plan to get out. Have someone back home who is expecting you and knows where you are going and when you should be home. Be smart and be safe.