5 Essentials for Winter Hiking

Hiking is a favorite past-time for hundreds-of-thousands of Americans; the ability to plant you smack in the middle of nature for a time is an indispensable break from the fast-paced rigors of working life.

As any seasoned camper/hiker will tell you, however, it won’t be a fun trip if you’re not prepared for the wilderness. This means you must have all the necessary accouterments; from luxury wool blankets for protection from the elements, to sun block, first aid and illumination for the deep darkness of a rural area.

1.First-Aid, of Course

If you have experience in camping and hiking, then chances are you can tailor-make a first aid kit that encompasses the full scope of likely ailments. If not, then simply get a pre-assembled one from any of the large store chains, or smaller specialty shops.

You should have a disinfectant, adhesive bandages and tape, a couple of varieties of pain medication and perhaps even sterile gloves. The number of items should be more than what’s necessary to accommodate you for the planned duration of your camp.

  1. Food and Water

Although both are important; water is much more so. Your body can feed off itself for days – even weeks; but if you don’t have access to hydration, things can go downhill very quickly as bodily functions start to fail and your problem-solving capabilities take a hit. Carry a couple of bottles, as well as a flask of some kind that can hold a lot of water in a moderate profile that doesn’t dominate your backpack.

As for food, consider freeze-dried goods and energy bars, nuts, raisins; go for highly nutritious items that can keep for quite awhile, and that don’t need to be heated up. Of course, you can bring along some perishables since you’ll want to know how to make a fire in case you’re stuck in the elements.

  1. Shelter

This can consist of many things – but they collectively serve the same function. Cold, rain or even heat can make a bad situation much worse if you’re unprepared and become lost in the camping or hiking country. A collapsible tent is a great start, along with a luxury wool blanket as a concession to both utility and comfort. You MUST keep the heat from escaping if you’re out in the cold at night. In fact, these things should comprise the bulk of your traveling pack, since most other items can simply fit inside them.

  1. Map and Compass for Navigation

A map and compass are essential; you can’t count on anyone finding you if you’re lost. With today’s technology, you can acquire an array of items that make finding your way almost child’s play. There’s the wrist altimeter, GPS, a topographic map and of course a compass. You might think the last one is redundant, given the GPS – but what if you run out of batteries? Water seeps in and destroys the electronics? A compass is full-proof against either of these things, and doesn’t weigh much, to boot.

  1. Illumination and Reflection

At night, out in the wilderness, there are no city lights. Unless you’ve been camping before, you’ll be surprised at just how dark it can become. Bring along a headlamp so your hands can be free, as well as a solar-powered power bank that can fit in your pocket. Since an altimeter is a good idea for altitude measurements, you should consider getting a mirrored one so you can use the sun for reflections – just in case you need to signal to someone during the day time.