Discover your Eastman Adventure: Winter Hiking 101

With the snow coming and going, you might be thinking that those peaceful, refreshing hiking trips are over. But, as long as you are prepared, informed, and bring the right gear, you can have a fantastic hiking adventure!

To stay comfortable, and most importantly, safe during your winter excursion, here is some information to start your next adventure.

*Disclaimer*

  • Stay home if you have been travelling or do not feel well. Here is an excellent resource if you are quarantined. This will help you find people in Manitoba who are willing and able to help you while quarantined. Help Next Door Manitoba
  • Go out with people within your household, but practice social distancing (2 metres away) with other groups.
  • Please call ahead before visiting a business and inquire about their regulations to enter the building, such as capacity, sanitation, etc. Also, consider using curbside pickup where possible.
  • Please practice Leave No Trace. Clean up after yourself and leave nothing behind, such as trash and waste.

 

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Plan your Trip Ahead of Time

Planning is everything! Keep in mind that daylight hours are much shorter in the winter months. Schedule your hiking trip accordingly to avoid being out in the dark. Along with the reduced daylight, your winter hike will take longer than summer hiking. You tend to move slower and encounter more obstacles.

Trail markers and the trail itself can become hard to navigate and identify during the winter months. Pay attention and print off a map of your trail route to stay on track.

Don’t forget to check the weather conditions! Before you set out on your grand adventure, make sure that mother nature doesn’t plan on throwing a curveball at you. If it calls for a blizzard, or extreme cold, staying in is the best option.

Don’t go alone. Planning an adventure with the people in your household is a great way to bond and make lasting memories. But it is also a lot safer than trekking through the wilderness by yourself. When planning your trip, make sure you base the plan on the least experienced or able person.

Inform people about your plans. Let someone know where you and your group are going, how long you think it may take you, and when you return from your trip.

 

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What to Pack

Don’t forget to grab your backpack full of gear! When dealing with nature, it’s always a good rule of thumb to hope for the best and prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Don’t rely on your phone. The cold weather conditions are a killer on your phone. Plus, there is no guarantee that service will be available; so, relying on it for emergency help, GPS, or staying connected to your group or the outside world isn’t ideal.

  • Map
  • GPS
  • Batteries (various depending on what tools you bring)
  • Compass
  • First aid emergency kit
  • Multi-tool/mini repair kit
  • Flashlight
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Satellite communicator
  • Firestarter
  • Emergency shelter
  • Extra gloves, hat, socks, and shirt

 

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Staying Hydrated and Energized

Exercising in the winter burns more calories. Staying nourished is very important to help keep you warm. Your body will need twice the calories it usually does while hiking in the winter because it burns more to stay warm.

Adding snacks high in protein to your pack is well worth it. Pack something quick and easy to eat while you’re on the move. Picnics are great and all, but stopping for a prolonged time will leave you cold, and your muscles will have a harder time warming up again.

Just like hiking in the summer, you have to stay hydrated. Dehydration expedites the onset of hypothermia; keep in mind that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

To keep your water from freezing, consider purchasing a bottle clothing sleeve or DIY it and use some wool socks or a beanie.

 

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What to Wear

Now the big question that you all must-have. What on earth do you wear to stay warm? Well, as mentioned above, there is more to keeping your body temperature at a comfortable and safe level than just clothing.

In the winter months, something people often forget is the goal is to stay warm and dry – not only from the elements but from sweat. Wearing the proper layers while being out in nature is key, or else you’ll find yourself damp and cold. The thing to remember is it’s better to pack too much than not have enough. You can always shrug off a layer of clothing if you feel yourself starting to sweat.

So how many layers should you wear? For the upper portions of your body, you’ll want a next-to-skin base layer, a mid-weight insulating layer (like wool, down, puffy, or fleece), and a weatherproof shell. For the bottom portion of your body, you’ll want a next-to-skin base layer and finally an outer layer.

For the next-to-skin base layer shirt and pants, you should look for something made of synthetic fabric or merino wool that wick moisture and dry quickly. This layer regulates your temperature and wick sweat, keeping you dry and warm.

Avoid anything cotton as it stays damp, heavy, and loses its insulating properties when wet.

It would be best to look for clothing made out of wool, down, fleece, or puffy for the insulating shirt layer. This layer is maintaining body heat by trapping air close to your body and providing insulation. Something to keep in mind when selecting your choice of fabric is down isn’t warm if it gets wet.

For the outer shell layer, look for something that is water-resistant but still breathable. If it starts sleeting, snowing, raining, or windy, adding this layer will protect you from the elements and keep your other layers dry.

For picking the right outer shell layer for pants, it depends on the weather conditions. If it’s dry out, you can get away with a warm pair of leggings. If it’s wet, you’ll want something waterproof.

Here are some other clothing items needed for your experience.

  • Buff
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves (recommend bringing two pairs. One light and the other warmer)
  • Beanie
  • Winter hiking socks
  • Snow winter hiking boots
  • Gaiters

 

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Winter has endless opportunities for incredible outdoor fun. When you’re well prepared, know how to be safe, and dress for the occasion, you never know what special memories you can create!

 

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