Winter is a great time to plan a hiking trip for you and your children. As long as you prepare for the trip properly you will enjoy an entirely different experience from a summertime hike.
The most important thing is to make sure that you are warm. It’s best to go with the layered approach. You may think a big, bulky parka would keep you warmer, but it offers you few options. What do you do if you start to sweat? You can’t take your coat off because that’s all you have for outerwear. However, if you have layered your clothing, you have a lot more options.
The first layer is usually long underwear. A synthetic material is best because if you start to sweat, it will wick away moisture from your skin. Then when you cool down, you will be dry. The second layer is more for insulation. Many jackets are made of polyester material in which the fibers are treated to sit up and trap body heat. The third layer should a light weight windbreaker, which should “break the wind”. It should also be waterproof. The higher quality ones have sealed and coated seams and insulated zippers.
One of the benefits of winter hiking is that you don’t have to deal with insects buzzing around you. So you can forget about insect spray, but you had better remember to bring sunscreen. The winter sun can be brutal on exposed faces.
Don’t forget your hat and gloves. Cold and wet hands can quickly ruin an outing and cause an early return. Most of your body heat is lost through the head, so please wear a hat. Try to find one that covers the ears. Ladies, don’t be afraid of “hat head”. It’s much better to be warm and dry than to have the perfect hairdo!
Your feet need attention too. Keep them warm and dry. Wear boots if you have them. Spray them with a waterproof spray. A sock liner is a good idea to keep your feet dry. Top the liner with a warm insulating sock and your feet will be toasty and dry.
A wonderful idea is to carry a thermos or two of some kind of warm drink or hot soup. This will really warm you up. One of my favorite memories of hiking with my father in cold weather, was warming up a can of Dinty Moore stew. He had a small backpacker’s stove from World War II, I think. What a treat! And now every time I see Dinty Moore stew, I think of hiking.
Although you may not be camping, you will be able to see a lot in the bare woods or wherever you are hiking. Don’t forget a good pair of binoculars to look for birds and their nests. If there is snow on the ground, look for animal prints.
Don’t let the cold keep you in. With a little preparation and the right clothes you can still enjoy the great outdoors.