For winter hikes or cold weather activity in general, it’s important to stay warm and protected from the elements. With that said, you’ll also be pretty active and may want to be flexible, able to remove or add layers and adapt to your changing body temperature.
Whether heading out on a family trip or just venturing on a winter hike with your partner, it might be helpful to consider packing some gear to help you stay on top of it all.
For your jacket, consider something with dual zippers — one that slides up a neck-protection piece and the other to actually close and open the whole jacket. This can protect your neck from wind chill and icy weather while giving you room to breathe for sunny, but brisk hikes. Another great option would be something light and mobile enough to move with you and be folded up neatly in a backpack, but also warm enough for winter weather — Patagonia, REI Brand and North Face have a few to choose from.
Pack a backpack with hand warmers, water, light food, flashlight, extra socks and even gloves to prepare for the possibility of a wet, icy hike. Make sure your backpack is light, but durable. You’ll need room to keep some extra supplies, but not a lot of extra fabric weighing you down.
While hiking boots with sturdy laces and great traction are always a must, you may need to add on in the winter months — due to possible ice or rising water. Grab a pair of Yaktrax, or similar, to add to your backpack and toss on the soles of your shoes when needed. There’s a variety of sizes and options, but, as long as the spikes fit, your trek over icy trails will be that much easier.
If the weather is just too cold, or trails are too icy and dangerous for the kids, don’t worry about pressing ahead. Chances are, there are less icy trails worth tackling, you just need to consult a local or do your research beforehand. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Check the weather ahead of your trip and consider the air temperature, possible melting snow and ice and your family’s athletic abilities.