Winter Backpacking - Six Lifesaving Tips
By Steven Gillman
check the weather report when you last went winter backpacking? You
probably did, but I am sure there are some who are thinking "Weather
report? How about cold and snowy - it's winter!" However, cold and
snow are not the only aspects of the weather. You may actually be in
more danger if there will be a warming trend while you are out in
Getting wet when the temperature is just over
freezing is far more likely than when it is far below freezing.
Getting wet, and then cold because of it, is one of the primary
reasons people die in the wilderness in winter. A down coat might
keep you warm down to zero, but it might also become almost
worthless in a steady freezing rain. You need to be prepared for the
specific weather you are likely to see.
More Winter Hiking Tips
Stay as dry as you can. Getting wet is what kills
you in the winter wilds. Proper preparation means more than just
bringing a rain jacket, though. You also have to avoid letting too
much snow melt into your clothing. Jeans are the worst for this, and
should never be worn when backpacking in snow. You also need to
monitor your perspiration. It's easy to get wet from sweating during
a hard hike. This sweat will chill you fast once you stop moving.
Remove those layers as you warm up, to prevent sweating.
Have proper clothing. What should you have with
you when hiking? Avoid cotton, for starters. Synthetic underwear,
like polypropylene, is a great invention, in all it's newest forms.
"Wicking" pants and tops work well. Always have a hat and gloves.
Dry socks can prevent frostbitten toes, and are a good idea even for
a day hike. Down coats and vests are the best - if you can keep them
Bring enough water. Eating snow is an extremely
inefficient way to get water into your system. Bring water and keep
it from freezing. This might mean keeping your water bottle inside
your coat, or next to you in your sleeping bag at night. One of the
primary problems that climbers of Mount Everest have is dehydration,
by the way, and it can contribute to hypothermia.
Bring a heat source. Many of us get by backpacking
with no stove in the warmer months, eating cold foods only, but in
winter a cooking stove is a necessity. It isn't just that you will
appreciate having hot food. You will need a way to melt snow and ice
for water. Always have enough matches, and a lighter too. A fire can
easily be a lifesaver if you fall into a stream of lake and need to
get warm and dry.
Learn some basic principles of cold weather
survival. Maybe you won't remember that you can turn a light jacket
into a winter coat by stuffing it full of cattail fluff from the
nearest swamp. However, if you understand how dead air space
insulates, it will seem obvious to you that you can use a pile of
dry leaves or grass as an emergency blanket. Once, while backpacking
along the Manistee River in Michigan, setting up my tent on a pile
of dry bracken ferns allowed me to stay warm with no sleeping bag
when it was almost freezing.
Think about these things before you are out there.
Proper preparation is what will make your winter backpacking trip a
safe one. (related
Copyright Steve Gillman. To get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking
Secrets (And Wilderness Survival Tips)" for FREE, as well as photos,
gear recommendations, and a new wilderness survival section, visit:
The Ultralight Backpacking Site:
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steven_Gillman
Like this article? You may also
Backpacking by Steve Gillman, Do Walking Sticks
Conserve Energy? by Steve Gillman,
Ultralight vs Traditional
Backpacking by Steve Gillman, and
Recipes by Steve Gillman