Mack Prioleau shares tips on preparing for a winter hike

Winter Hiking Tips by Mack Prioleau

When I embarked on my first winter hike a few years back, I didn’t expect the trail to be hard. I’ve hiked the trail so many times during the summer that I knew it like the back of my hand. What I didn’t expect was that it could be so challenging in wintertime. Hi, all! Mack Prioleau here. Let me share with you a few tips on winter hiking so you won’t have as hard a time as I did when I tried it for the very first time.

Suit up

You know how temperatures change as you ascend to reach the summit? From the foot of the mountain, the temperature could be at a relatively cool and comfortable level, but as you get higher up, you could feel the air getting colder and colder. Expect these changes in temperature to be magnified during the winter! So my first tip is to suit up. Wear properly insulated clothing to keep warm and dry. And take along an extra pair of insulated pants and jacket for added measure.

For winter hikes, make like an onion and layer up!

Set out early

There are two main reasons why I suggest that you make an early start for your winter hikes. First, the sun generally sets early during winter. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of the trail when the sun goes down. Hiking with only your headlamp as a source of light in snow-covered trails puts your safety at risk.

Second, the trail, as I mentioned above, is going to be far more challenging in winter, which means a trail that you’ve managed to complete within a couple of hours in the summer could take you all day to complete in winter. In other words, make sure to give ample time for hiking the trails in colder, snowy conditions.

Bring safety and emergency gear

When you go out on a hike, you should always be prepared for surprises. This is especially true during winter. Bring a first aid kit, extra warm clothing, a compass, trail map, and headlamp, of course. You’ll never know when heavy snowfall could suddenly occur so be prepared to spend the night, too, even if you only planned (and chose a trail) for a day hike.

Check, double and triple-check the weather

It goes without saying that one of the first things you should do when planning a hike is to check the weather regardless of whether you’re hiking in the summer or winter. But during winter, it is advised that you keep checking the weather until the time you have to start your a hike. Make sure to check for incidents of heavy snowfall and avalanches on the mountain you’re planning to climb. As I’ve said, winter conditions present you with more challenges compared to summer, and it is always prudent to double—even triple—check the weather.

Do you have tips you want to share? Please feel free to let me know. You may reach me, Mack Prioleau, directly through this site.