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Winter Hiking: A Beginner’s Guide

Hiking in winter entails unique challenges, which demand extra equipment and more tools, and you could be carrying over 5o lbs of gear if you are not picky enough. While there are many essential things to bring on a winter hike to the snowy wilderness, a secret that doesn’t break the bank and break your back is picking just the essential things.

So when you get set for your next winter hike, give some thought to taking these 10 pieces of gear.

1. A 4-Season tent:

4-season tents are stronger than other types of tents and can withstand a blizzard. They have stronger poles and are designed to let the snow slide off the sides.

Dome-type tents are a good alternative for winter camping, especially in areas where snowfall can become heavy. However, be aware that, unlike 4-season tents, dome tents can accumulate snow and have poles that aren’t as sturdy as 4-season tents.

2. Petroleum stove

This is optional for day-long hikes where you won’t need to cook outdoors. For long hikes that take a number of days, you need cooking equipment that can function in the bitter cold and can melt snow.

Petroleum stoves work in high altitudes and are quite reliable even in low temperatures, where other types of stoves would fail. The downside is they are bulky and heavy, so they’re certainly not for light backpackers. You’ve got to decide if the weight is really necessary.

3. Backpack

Winter backpacks are specifically designed and suited for winter hiking and camping and certainly unlike 3 season backpacks. However, not all winter backpacks are built the same, and you should be careful when choosing one.

Choose backpacks that have 70-80 liters of capacity and weigh around 5 pounds. Avoid heavier and bulkier packs. Remember that you’d be carrying more gear in winter than in any other season of the year. It makes sense to start off with relatively light packs.

4. Sleeping bag for a winter hike

Seasoned winter hikers and campers recommend winter sleeping bags, most especially if you’re heading out to the wilds where temperatures creep well below freezing. Whether you’re buying or borrowing a sleeping bag, try it first. The length of the sleeping bag should accommodate you entirely without you having to push the end of the bag with your feet. It should be easy to close and open from the inside.

5. Trekking poles

Trekking poles give you more stability when walking on snow-covered terrain. But you have to check that your poles are designed for the specific terrain you’re hiking on. Some poles are not designed for rugged, rocky terrains, not to mention some trekking poles can sink deep into the snow and make walking problematic. Some hikers just prefer ski poles.

6. Lighters and matches

It’s hard to start a fire in summer without a lighter or a match. It’s harder to start one in winter. Lighters and matches are indispensable hiking and camping tools that will definitely make your life much easier in the wilderness. These seemingly trivial items are needed when starting campfires. In winter, a nice campfire is just what you need for warmth and cooking.

7. Bowls, spoons, and mugs

Or else, how are you going to eat? This is not your usual dinner at home complete with your dining set. Eating outdoors isn’t that nice. You’ll have to contend with a few utensils. The most important thing is you get something to fill your stomach with especially on a winter hike.

8. Headlamp/flashlight with extra batteries

Winter is the time of the year when days are short and nights are long. You may find yourselves hiking in the dark, and carrying light with you is essential. A flashlight is good, but a headlamp is much better because it frees both of your hands for other things like holding on to rocks or holding your ski pole.

Make sure you bring extra batteries. Long hours of hiking at night can drain your lamp’s batteries, and since you might not be able to recharge batteries anywhere, you should bring extra batteries with you.

Don’t rely much on your smartphone’s light. It’s not a good light source because it spreads the beam, instead of focusing it in a narrow area, and it doesn’t reach more than a few feet before diffusing.

9. Pocket knife

A pocket knife comes really handy in every hiking situation. You can use it to cut food, cut a rope, or maybe open canned food. Knives can be used for hunting and food preparation. the most-5-biggest-camping-mistakes.

10. Maps and a compass

A map and a compass are two hiking items that you should never leave at home, especially if you’re traversing a territory you have never been to before. Don’t rely on your power-hogging GPS. The GPS is good for occasional checks, but bring a map with you, and train yourself to read a map and find your way through the trail.

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