At the beginning of summer I talked about the importance of keeping cool while hiking. Since active vacations occur in both hot and cold conditions, it’s time to touch on the equally important issue – staying warm.
Here are 10 Tips For Hikers on a Cold Damp Trail:
1 » Avoid Cotton
A large part of staying warm is staying dry. Cotton has a pesky habit of trapping moisture and holding onto it as long as it can. In cold air environments, this results in your body heat being replaced with cold energy. Instead, wear sweat wicking synthetic materials that work to keep your sweat out of the equation.
2 » Layer Correctly
It is common sense to layer up in an effort to keep warm. The important part in this process is what is being layered. By starting with soft layers and finishing with nylon, your inner and outer shells will continue to serve you well as your hike goes on.
3 » Protect Dry Clothes
On a multiple day hike, dry clothes turn to wet clothes very quickly. The key is to preserve at least one set of dry clothes for nighttime. This often means taking off your dry clothes in the morning and putting back on your cold wet duds. This is one of those “you’ll thank yourself later” kind of deals.
4 » Eat Right
In an increasingly health conscious world, avoiding fatty foods has become a major pastime for active North Americans. This maxim is turned on its head during a cold weather hike. Since calories are a measurement of heat, eating foods with high fat content can help fight the cold. Try to drink warm fluids as well.
5 » Save Energy For Nighttime
Many hikers make the mistake of hiking until they crash at the campsite. In cold and wet environments, it’s in your interest to save energy for the long night ahead. Exhausted bodies are hard to keep warm.
6 » Pre-heat Your Sleeping Bag
Although your body heat will eventually heat your sleeping bag, getting a head-start is a good idea. By pouring boiling water into a secure water bottle and placing it inside your sleeping bag, you’ll be on the right track to a shiverless sleep.
7 » Use a Vapor Barrier
Create a nighttime vapor barrier by dressing yourself in rain gear before bed. This will keep moisture from penetrating to your body. The only problem is, it will keep any existing moisture inside as well. Be sure to put on a very dry base under your rain gear.
8 » Protect Your Head
Keeping your head warm at night is very important. Try wearing a wool hat or a balaclava to bed. Also, fight the urge to breathe inside your sleeping bag. Although it provides a temporary warm sensation, it compromises the dry environment inside your bag.
9 » Coat Your Hands
Rubbing your hands with Hand Sense will help to keep your hands dry inside your gloves. It was developed by the military for this reason.
10 » Bring The Right Supplies
The ability to keep warm often boils down to your ability to create fire. Carry a secured and waterproofed firestarting kit. Included should be at least three feet of jute to help fuel the effort.