Monday, August 27, 2007

Special Gear Concerns for Winter Backpacking

Backpacking in winter brings challenges. The cold weather and snowy or icy terrain all bring special concerns that a backpacker needs to understand. One of the biggest challenges for a winter backpacker is clothing. Many times a person will go about dressing for cold weather in the wrong manner. If you follow the guidelines below you will find that you can dress warmly and still be comfortable.

One of the biggest concerns is dressing for the elements. You need to consider the cold temperatures, the chilling wind and the snow. You will need clothing pieces that are resistant to both wind and snow. You will also need to make sure you wear an inner layer of clothing that will insult, but also absorb sweat and dry quickly. You should dress in a few lightweight layers instead of trying to dress in bulk. You will find you move easier in lighter weight clothing, plus you will find that it is easier to regulate your body temperature because you can remove one thin layer. You have much more control when you can remove a fraction of clothing verses removing a large bulky piece that will dramatically change your body temperature.

Other important items are hats, socks, gloves and boots. You should avoid cotton material for hats, socks and gloves. Cotton does not insulate, repel water and takes forever to dry. You should bring along an extra pair of socks in case the ones you are wearing get wet. Change them immediately to avoid frostbite. Your hat should keep your body heat in and keep the wind off your face. Your boots are important. If they do not fit you will not have a good trip. Make sure you buy the right size. Make sure they feel comfortable. Also make sure they are waterproof.

Besides clothing you should also consider some other items that can make a winter backpacking trip safer and easier. Snow poles are great gear that help you stay steady on snowy terrain. You should try to get ones that can be adjusted. An ice axe is another great tool that can help you along the trail. A snow shovel can come in handy, especially if you get stranded or experience an avalanche. Trail makers are another good item. It is simple to get lost in snowy terrain. It doesn’t even matter how well you know the area. When everything is covered in white snow it looks very different than usual. Trail makers can help you stay on course.

Winter backpacking is a whole new adventure. Places you have visited many times suddenly become a different place. It is definitely more challenging to backpack in the winter, but anyone who has tried it will be sure to recommend at least trying it. Just be sure you have the essential winter backpacking gear.

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