Hiking is a fantastic hobby. It’s a great way to see more of the world, get more fresh air, and enjoy nature. Hiking also helps you to burn more calories, build muscle, and improve posture. It has many health and wellness benefits, as well as social benefits. Even better, once you’ve made an initial investment in good hiking shoes and other gear, it’s free. You don’t need a gym membership or anything particularly special. You don’t even need to be super fit and healthy. Anyone can hike, and as long as you take care of yourself and know your boundaries, hiking can be a delightful and beneficial way to spend your spare time.
Many of us took up hiking for the first time this summer when indoor attractions might have been closed or access limited. You might have spent warm afternoons out exploring and enjoying the great outdoors. Unfortunately, as the temperatures drop and the rain starts to fall, many people will leave this brilliant pastime behind.
There’s really no need. Hiking in poor weather conditions might be more challenging, but it can still be safe and enjoyable, and it’s almost always a better workout. Here are some of the best tips to help you stay safe and comfortable on a bad weather hike.
6 Tips for Hiking in Bad Weather
Invest in Quality Shoes
You should always hike in supportive but breathable shoes that have a good grip to avoid injuries. They should also be comfortable and well-fitting. If you are buying new hiking shoes for winter, make sure they are broken in before you embark on an adventure.
Find the Right Waterproofs
Waterproofs are crucial in wintertime. A lightweight waterproof jacket that can be packed away easily is useful, as the weather can be changeable, and rain pants are a must have. Make sure your pants have plenty of pockets for easy storage and that your jacket has a hood that offers good coverage and stays put in windy conditions.
Layers are essential for hiking in bad weather. You don’t want anything too thick that will cause you to overheat and restrict movement, but you want to be warm. Your base layer should be long sleeved and light, preferable merino wool. Then, add an insulation layer, which is a little looser, to trap warm air. Your outer layer should be waterproof but breathable. It should also be quick dry. Gloves and merino lined socks and a lightweight beanie are also essential, as your hands and feet are often the first areas to feel the cold.
But you mustn’t overheat. Excessive perspiration can lower your body temperature and lead to hypothermia. Keep layers light and thin, and make sure you pack liners, so you can take a layer off if you need to, without getting the rest of the gear in your pack wet.
Keep an Eye on the Weather Forecast
When hiking in winter, you need to be prepared. Check the forecast, but bear in mind that the weather can change dramatically at higher altitudes. Keep an eye on the forecast, and always be prepared for the worst.
Take Regular Short Breaks
The longer you stop, the colder you get. So, instead, take regular, short snack breaks, and move on quickly.
Stay Hydrated and Refuel
Snack on high-energy foods that can be eaten quickly, like energy bars. If you are camping overnight, make sure your evening meal is filled with fats and proteins, which your body digests more slowly, to feel full all night long.
Dehydration can be a big problem in bad weather. We don’t always feel thirsty when it’s cold and wet, but your body still needs to rehydrate. Remind yourself to drink plenty of water.
Remember, hiking in bad weather is physically and mentally exhausting. If you have a bad day and want to make your camp for the night early, or even if you’re going to turn back much sooner than planned, it’s okay. Enjoy what you can, but don’t worry about the bad days.