How to Pack for a Cold Day Hike

by - 1:48:00 AM

It's the perfect time for hiking. Yes, even when it's cold. In fact, hiking during cold weather might be more satisfying, and easier in some ways, than doing it in the summer. But, before you venture out into the wilderness, make sure you stock up on the right supplies.

Wearing Something Over Your Head

Wearing something over your head is probably going to be essential. While many winter hikers opt for a simple pull-over hat or headmask, these might not be the most ideal in terms of performance. Why? Because, when you sweat, it will be absorbed into the material. Most hats are made from cotton or a cotton blend that's designed to hold heat in. This is fine, but those materials also hold in moisture.

When the hat is exposed to the cold air, it will quickly cool the sweat. Now you have a cold, damp, hat in constant contact with your face - not good.

Opt for something made from polypropylene if you're going to wear a face mask. Otherwise, consider a heat-exchange mask. These masks will do three things. First, they will keep you warm. Second, they will warm the incoming air from the outside. Thirdly, they will insulate you from the cold, so that you're constantly breathing warm, moist, air.

Get Lip Balm

Lip balm is for when you're not wearing a heat-exchange mask and you want to protect your lips from the harsh cold. When it gets cold outside, it can also get pretty dry. The tendency is to lick your lips - a bad idea but a natural reflex nonetheless.

Lip balm will help protect your lips from becoming chapped. And, if you do have a habit of licking your lips, make sure you keep reapplying it frequently. Get something made from bee's wax. It tends to do a superior job.

Have Plenty of Water

Water is absolutely essential when you're out hiking in the cold. While you might not perceive sweating as a serious risk, it happens almost all the time. That sweating, caused by layering clothes that trap heat, is necessary in the morning and evening, but it's often overkill in the afternoon.

Of course, you should always try to prevent yourself from sweating, but that won't decrease your need for water. You're using up a lot of energy. Your body will need to stay hydrated. Bring a few water bottles with you but also consider investing in a water bottle filter capable of filtering non-potable water. That way, you can fill your bottle will stream water without worrying about viruses, bacteria, or weird spores.

Bring Nutritious Food

Nutritious food is also a life-saver if you're going to be hiking for hours on end. Believe it or not, many serious hikers bring sticks of butter. Yes, it sounds a little gross, but butter is a very calorie-dense food filled with fat soluble vitamins. It will keep you energized for long periods of time.

If that's a little too over the top for you, consider picking up snack foods like trail mix or energy drinks. Most retail sporting goods stores sell them. You can even find that sort of stuff online through companies like

A Light

A light is necessary if you think it'll get dark before you return home. But even if you only anticipate a day trip, bring a light. You never know what might happen to you out there. The best types of lights are the Faraday-style lamps that don't need batteries. They operate on a crank or they employ a magnet and wire to charge a capacitor. This setup will provide you with a never-ending source of light.

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