Due to the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for more information.

How to Pack Your Day Pack for Winter Hiking

Warmth, hydration, snacks, and more. 

By Trent Jonas

How to Pack Your Day Pack for Winter Hiking

When temperatures fall and conditions become snowy and icy, going out for a day hike can be a bit more challenging. The cold and potential for precipitation require greater preparedness. So, before you head out for a day on the trails, make sure you're ready. Here's what you should bring in your day pack while hiking in winter. 

Warmth

In winter, a day can start out sunny and mild only to end up windy and cold. So be sure to bring along a hat and neck gaiter, or a balaclava, whether on your head or in your pack. An extra pair of gloves and spare dry socks are also good things to have on hand in case of a lost glove or an errant step into water. In case you get caught out in bad weather, always keep a few disposable hand warmers, like HotHands in your winter day pack, as well as an emergency blanket or shelter, like the ultracompact SOL Emergency Bivvy

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Water

Water is a particularly important thing to remember in winter. Often, when you’re out in colder weather, you won’t feel as thirsty has you would on a warm day, but your body still requires hydration. On milder winter days, an insulated water bottle is sufficient to prevent your water from freezing. If, on the other hand, you plan to hike for a prolonged period in temperatures that are well below freezing, you’ll need to take some additional precautions. Instead of an insulated bottle, use an external insulated sleeve, like Nalgene’s along with an uninsulated, stainless water bottle like the Kleen Kanteen Classic. In the event that your water freezes, you can simply heat up the water directly in the bottle and then slip it back into its sleeve. Heating an insulated water bottle can damage the container.  

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A post shared by kleankanteen (@kleankanteen)

Light

Darkness descends quickly in winter, so it’s always a good idea to bring along a source of illumination (your phone doesn’t count) when you head out in the colder months, like a flashlight or a headlamp. The Petzl Bindi is super lightweight, rechargeable, and will use almost no space in your pack. Because cold weather can be hard on batteries, make sure your light has fresh batteries or a full charge before you go. Packing spare batteries or a charging brick is never a bad idea.

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A post shared by Tom Furey (@tom.furey)

Food

Your body burns more calories when you’re exercising in cold weather than it does in warm weather. This is because, in addition to the calories you’re expending while moving, your body also has to use them to maintain warmth. Therefore, be sure to take some fuel along on your winter hike, in the form of trail mix, energy bars, or whatever you like to munch on while hiking.

Fire

You never know when you may need some extra heat, whether to warm yourself or melt water, so having a few fire-making essentials in your day pack is crucial on a winter hike. Bring a multitool, as well as some kitchen-type matches. You can bring a lighter, as well, but a butane lighter may not work in the cold. Consider a rechargeable plasma lighter, instead. Also, pack something to get a fire going like Coghlan’s Tinder—it’s lightweight, compact, and works well in all temperatures.

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A post shared by CDN Gunworx (@cdngunworx)

Traction

You never know what conditions you are going to run into on the trail. It may seem perfectly fine until you hit a stretch of shade where the path has iced up. In case you encounter some slippery conditions, pack a pair of traction devices or mini-crampons to help you keep your footing. Collapsible trekking poles, like those from Cascade Mountain Tech are also a good tool have on hand.

Due to the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for more information.

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