It’s not difficult for me to admit that I didn’t always enjoy winter hiking. I used to dedicate the dark cold days of winter to working on projects indoors and rarely ventured out! However, years ago I decided I had to find some way to coexist with the longest season in my home state, Montana. As much as I wanted to at the time, I couldn’t let myself spend all winter waiting for summer to arrive.
So, what did I do? I buckled and bought a pair of Atlas Snowshoes at my local REI. As I was blazing trail in my new snowshoes and coxing myself to fall in love with winter, I came across a few other things that helped me to start enjoying cold-season hiking.
Curate Your Collection of Winter Layers
Truth: I couldn’t stand the cold because I wasn’t properly dressed for it!
You’ll be able to embrace the chilly winter days once you’ve mastered the art of layering. To start, say goodbye to cotton – the archenemy of winter back sweat! If you’re comfortable while hiking, the odds are you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more.
Remember, your layers begin at your feet with quality hiking socks! I don’t know why I struggled so much with this one, but wearing Merino Wool socks drastically improved my tolerance to the cold. Darn Tough Socks are perfect for wintery trails and they're made to last forever.
When you start to warm up and it’s time to shed some layers, make sure you have a good-sized pack to store them in. The Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is water-resistant to keep your clothes dry, and it holds up to 20L. It’s a great lightweight option for all-seasons of hiking!
Only Premium Fuel Will Do
I have this horrible unhealthy habit of pushing through a busy day and neglecting to eat until hunger pains remind me. Believe me – I’m working on this! Unfortunately, I used to take this nasty habit with me on the trail. As you can imagine, I was an absolute peach.
It’s hard to have a good time when it’s cold and you’re running on fumes. Your body is burning a lot of calories while hiking – and even more when it’s working to keep you warm! Here are some super simple snack ideas to keep you energized and cheerful:
Trail mix with chocolate
Energy bars that are packed with protein and calories – think Larabar, Probar, Clif Bar, etc.
Start Logging Your Hikes
There was once a multi-month gap in my hiking achievements. A blank space where there should have been snowy adventures! I’d find myself reminiscing about sunny summer days at alpine lakes instead of appreciating the season I was in!
When I started venturing out onto snowy trails, I also began entering my hikes into a journal. Logging my winter hiking efforts gave me cold-season adventures to look back on and appreciate. My favorite journal is the Adventure Planner – no competition. It's thoughtfully laid out to keep you inspired and tracking your goals throughout the year!
Now when I flip through my hikes, there are no more seasonal gaps. Seeing that logbook full encourages me to keep my streak going – even through the rain and snow!
How did you learn to fall in love with winter hiking?
If you’re still working on building a positive relationship with winter, what are your obstacles?
Let us know in the comments!
Emily is a freelance travel and outdoor recreation writer from Big Sky, MT. Samples of her published work can be found at emilylorenwriting.com.