Welcome to the fourth and final instalment of Get Out Toronto’s winter hiking tips series. In each of our previous posts we went into detail on a different topic, covering hiking clothing, footwear, and fuel (aka, food & drink). This last post is a highlight of our top ten quick tips to get out hiking safely and comfortably this winter!
Consider the Sun Part 1 - The sun sets early in the winter and, when it does, temperatures drop fast. Make sure you get out with plenty of time to finish before sunset and remember that winter hiking is slower than summer hiking.
Consider the Sun Part 2 - This may be obvious but just because it’s cold (or even cloudy), doesn’t mean you can’t get burnt. Use sunscreen and UV protective chapstick.
Warm your Tech - Devices tend to lose their battery power in cold temperatures. You can prevent battery loss by wrapping your phone in a scarf or mitten and putting it in an inside pocket. That said, you should always know where you’re going! Carry a map and DO NOT rely on your phone or any other technological device while winter hiking.
Bring a Flashlight - Bring a flashlight/head lamp and keep it somewhere warm inside your pack. The sun sets early, hikes can take longer than expected, and phones are less reliable than traditional battery powered flashlights in the cold.
Eat More - Your body burns extra calories in the winter trying to stay warm. Pack extra carb and protein rich snacks that can be easily eaten on the move. (See more on winter hiking food).
Drink - You may not feel as thirsty in the winter but your body is losing lots of liquids. Dehydration expedites hypothermia so be sure to drink plenty of water!
Wear Layers - Always have a wicking garment-layer next to your skin and an insulating layer on top of that. This will make sure to keep you warm and dry throughout your hike. (Check out this post for more information on winter hiking clothing).
Be Bold, Start Cold - It’s ok to feel the cold a little bit at the beginning of your hike. Start a little chilly, with your extra layer in your pack, and your body will warm up as you walk.
Check Weather & Trail Conditions - It’s easy to get lost in a blizzard, or to fall on an icy trail. Get whatever information you can on the weather and trail conditions before heading out.
Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst - For the most part, hiking in the winter is fun, energizing and a fantastic way to spend the day. That said always be prepared for unpredictable weather, poor trail conditions, and unexpected delays. Bring extra layers, a first aid kit, and extra food & water.