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A Hiker’s Guide To Winter Trekking

How to trek when the weather is cold.

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Hiking in the winter might not sound appealing to everyone. However, if you like the idea of sharing the trails with fewer people, enjoying some amazing scenery, embracing a new challenge and having fewer insects to battle with, then winter trekking should certainly be on your list. Winter hikes might take a little more preparation and planning, but the rewards are almost always worth it.

Before you embark on your first winter trek, it’s important that you take the time to plan, prepare and research in advance. Not only will being organised ensure that you have a better time on the trails, but it will also ensure that you and your fellow walkers stay safe. Winter trekking brings its own set of challenges, and you need to be sure that you are ready for what lies ahead. With the right prep, you can be sure that your winter walks will be worth every single step. 

Let’s take a look at a few things you need to consider to ensure you have fun and stay safe on the trails this winter. 

Pack The Right Gear

Heading out into the hills in the summer versus going out in the winter are two very different experiences, and you will need to ensure that you have the right gear. While warm heavy layers might be your first choice, this is the wrong approach. Instead, you should pack multiple lighter layers that you can add and remove as the conditions change throughout the day.

You should also ensure you have waterproof winter pants and a jacket to keep you dry, as being wet when it’s cold is a recipe for disaster. Finally, you will need sunglasses, a hat, gloves, a buff, plenty of food and water, survival gear, a head torch and any specialist equipment for the areas you will be exploring.

Check The Weather

 While checking the weather forecast is essential before any hiking trip, it is even more important in the wintertime. The weather can be much more changeable in the winter months, and temperatures can drop suddenly when the sun goes down, so be sure to head off early so that you’re not out after dark without the right gear. Knowing what the weather is looking like before you leave is vital for your safety on the trails in winter. 

Be Prepared To Move Slowly

If you are trekking in areas that are subject to snow or ice, remember that you will be moving much slower than you would be in the summer. Even if there is only a dusting of snow on the trails, moving too quickly can result in you slipping and potentially injuring yourself. “Slow and steady” should always be your mantra when you’re hiking in the winter. Avoid taking unnecessary risks and allow as much time as possible for your route by setting off early. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Turn Back

In the warmer months of the year, things are typically more predictable when you’re out hiking. However, in the winter, there is more chance that something unexpected might happen. Trees can fall because of high winds, heavy rain can wash paths away, and snow can make it difficult to see the trail. What’s more, because you have to move forward with more caution, you have to move slowly, and the days are shorter, there’s always the risk that you might run out of light and have to turn back. Avoid being foolhardy when you’re trekking in the winter, and always be prepared to turn back if necessary. It’s always better to come back another day than pursue a route when the conditions are less than favorable.

Ensure That You Get The Most Out Of Your Treks This Winter

Follow the tips outlined above to ensure that you get the most of your trekking this winter. With the right preparation and a sensible approach, you can be sure that you have fun, stay safe and have some great adventures during the colder months of the year. 


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Filed under: Travel Guide

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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