Winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. When you’re prepared, winter can be just as warm and enjoyable as the spring, but with far less crowding on the trails. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy yourself this winter.
Most of the people I talk to who say they hate winter, have no idea how to dress for it. Cotton and thin fleece jackets aren’t designed to fight off the bitter winter cold. Cotton doesn’t insulate, and a thin fleece jacket is only usable when you’re moving and producing a LOT of body heat.
A soft fluffy down or Primaloft jacket makes an amazing difference when the cold creeps in. Solid insulation is the key to a frost free happiness.
Consult my guide for Dressing for Winter, and you’ll find yourself much happier come this January.
Eat and Drink better
What you put into your body has a dramatic influence on how it performs. Eating carbs and sugars will help you get moving in the morning, but you really need proteins and fats to keep that steady burn alive to produce a long term warming affect. While hiking, nuts, peanut butter, and other high protein/fat foods are a great option. Have some before you turn in for the night paired with a nice dose of a warm sugary drink and you’ll find yourself sleeping longer, better, and warmer throughout the night. Just avoid tea, or other caffeinated drinks if you don’t want to make a 2.am pee run when it’s blowing flakes outside.
A quality sleeping bag and pad goes a long way. Make sure anything you’re using is of high quality (brand certainly matters in the backpacking word) and is rated below what you expect to come across. Don’t forget to calculate in elevation changes, and do know that the weatherman lies through his teeth, and wants nothing more than to wreck your weekend.
A good tent will also make a difference. 3 season tents are great for ventilation, but are generally terrible at providing real wind protection and trapping warmth. While they’re not designed to provide insulation, not having wind blowing through your tent makes a huge difference when you’re trying to stay warm. I’ve felt a 10 degree or more difference from the inside, and outside of my tent when using a 4 season. It’s worth considering.