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winter hiking safety

Safety Tips For Winter Hikes

Hiking is a great way to get your body moving, heart rate pumping, and take in the beautiful outdoor scenery. While it’s a great way to get active, it can also be a dangerous task. Especially during the winter, when temperatures are lower and natural sunlight is fickle, it’s important to prepare. Here are some tips to help you complete a safe winter hike.

If you want to go on a hike, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Be sure that at least one person knows that you are going on a hike and where. Winter weather makes hiking conditions more difficult, so even seasoned hikers may not be able to handle the trails like they normally would.

Appropriate Attire
Layering your clothing is a smart way to keep warm. However, too little or too many layers can cause problems. You want to maintain body temperature while protecting your extremities. If you lose blood flow to your hands and feet, it will be difficult to warm them back up once you set out. Alternatively, too many layers can cause you to overheat and sweat through your base layers, which can quickly chill when you stop hiking.

Ideally, your base layer will consist of synthetic fabric or wool, to keep you warm while pulling sweat away from your skin. Your insulation layer is next, which should work to trap in your body heat. Stacking thinner layers is more versatile than using one heavy layer. The shell layer is the last layer and should balance water resistance and breathability. You should also add gloves, hats, and appropriate footwear and accessories as you see fit to keep you safe and warm.

Early Start
Because sunlight can be limited in the winter, it is best to set out early for a winter hike. This should give you ample time to complete your hike before the sun sets and darkness and colder weather take over.

If you’re going on a winter hike, it might be better to go on trails that you have taken before to minimize your chances of getting lost. Or, you can do your research to get a better understanding of the path you will be taking. So long as you have ample connection while you are on your hike, you can download and use specialized GPS or trail apps on your smartphone to help lead the way.

Safety First
When in doubt, play it safe. If there are warnings that different parts of the hike may be unsafe, be willing to turn around and cut your hike short. Icy conditions can cause you to slip or fall, so be sure to watch your step.

Do you have any winter hiking tips to share? Any trails you would recommend? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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