COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Now that snow is finally dumping around the country, it’s important to know what items should be brought along for a winter hike. While many items are needed year-round, some can be especially helpful during the colder months of the year.
Here’s a list of winter hiking gear essentials, along with some additional winter hiking tips:
Winter hiking gear
Shoe traction: Bringing along microspikes or hiking boot crampons is a great move when it comes to navigating slick terrain. While you might not need the extra traction every time, this is one of those gear items that’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
Ski goggles: If ski goggles are good enough for alpine skiing, they’re probably good enough for hiking. Goggles can be a great option for eyewear on a snowy day, providing shade and protection from the intense sun and harsh winds.
Mountaineering ax: From being a great self-arrest tool on slick terrain to helping with balance in deep snow, a mountaineering ax can be a great tool for the winter pack. While an ax won’t be needed on most beginner or intermediate hikes, it is a must-have for those traveling steeper terrain.
Hiking poles: In flatter terrain where an ax might be overkill, hiking poles or ski poles can be a great balance aid. Many opt for hiking poles that are collapsible so that they can be stowed away when not in use.
Extra socks: If your socks get wet, it’s nice to have a replacement pair. Extra socks can also be used to double-up on layering if your toes get cold.
Extra gloves: Just like socks, gloves can also get wet. Having a replacement pair can be crucial when snow melts inside of the glove or the glove gets too sweaty. An extra pair of gloves is also helpful should a glove get lost — perhaps blown away by the wind.
Hand warmers: Whether you’re using hand warmers to keep your extremities toasty or to keep your cell phone battery warm (more on that below), having a few hand warmers in the backpack is never a bad idea.
Extra layers: Hiking in the winter can be a careful balance between staying warm and not getting too warm, thus sweating too much. One way of finding and maintaining this balance is to have multiple layers of clothing that can be interchanged. Having multiple layers can also be important if wet layers need to be replaced. Generally, a thin moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating mid-layer, and some sort of waterproof and windproof external shell are recommended. A trial-by-fire method is a good way of slowly landing on the perfect layering combination for a given day.
Sunscreen: The sun is powerful, and it can be even more damaging to skin when it’s also reflecting off the snow. Always bring sunblock and apply it regularly to prevent severe burns. Even if a small amount of skin is exposed during a winter hike, that skin is still worth protecting. ChapStick can be essential, too.
Shoe Gaiters: Seal the gap between the pant and the shoe …….