With a bit of planning and special camping gear, backpacking trips are possible all year long. In this guide, we cover what you need to know to plan, prepare for and enjoy your day-time or overnight winter escape. You can take an amazing trip, create memories that will last forever, and not have to freeze your butt off at the same time.
There are a lot of people that believe that you need to be an expert with backpacking in order to backpack in winter. As long as you are prepared, the elements are actually your best friend. Here are some of our tips. Winter is a great time for backpacking!
Better Be Prepared Than Never
Preparation is the key. You don’t want to go so far as to carry a portable toilet in your backpack, but you do want your pack contents to be lightweight and efficient. Make sure you have all the essentials to survive: a warm sleeping bag, sturdy hiking boots, food and water, an extra layer of clothing, fire making tools like matches, a lighter or a flint, and a decent tent that is lightweight, warm and suited for the snow . If you think you might hike off the beaten path, bring along a more accurate compass than iOS’s built-in version; in the winter, this includes crampons and an ice axe. Thick layers of snow may require snowshoes or skis.
Also, if you're planning a trip to backpacking for winter, daylight fades faster, so plan ahead your schedule for your trip. You might also want to bring with you some of your friends. Having them for company may come in handy. They'll share the load and also keep you out from freezing to boredom.
Learn How To Travel In Snow
Snow forecasts vary by region - Be informed! You're about to travel for the winter and you want to be prepared for the weather. Whatever area you're planning on travelling to, keep in mind that you will be encountering snow at some point. Many factors affect snow conditions from region to region, so it's important to pay attention to your surroundings and use your best judgement to avoid unnecessary danger. Having snow shoes is a must for thick layers of snow, but these shoes aren’t for everyone. They’re heavy, and can be awkward to carry around, but they can also seriously change your backpacking experience for the better. If you’re planning a trip in the mountains, we highly recommend taking along a pair of snowshoes. Just a heads up, and if you’re new to using snowshoes, practice flopping around in them before strapping on a pack.
Lastly, your favorite trail might soon be blanketed in snow and being difficult to actually stay on trail is no surprise, so carry a map, a compass or a trusty GPS device with a long lasting battery. Take note that devices that rely on batteries can drain faster in cold weather, know how to use them wisely.
Backpacking in winter can be a great adventure. So long as you plan your trip wisely, remember to be prepared and smart. If you're going on a winter backpacking trip, you need to make sure you have a great tent. If you don't get one that's good for 4-season camping, you'll freeze in the winter. Packing a shovel is a must! You may need to carve a tent platform, to dig out your tent stakes the next morning, or excavate if needed, with snow almost everywhere, having a shovel is a must. You don't want to have your hands do the digging and freeze out! Sleds are a great life saver. You don't want to carry all your stuff and sink through the snow right? Lastly, take care of your body during your trip. Hydrate often with warm drinks and eat snacks or meals to boost your calories. Keeping yourself warm and cozy throughout the trip will make a difference from a memorable exciting adventure, to a miserable one.
Overall, we believe that backpacking for winter is great fun if you know what you’re doing and when properly planned and executed, can be absolutely amazing for it has its own unique set of challenges and rewards. I highly recommend you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Cold weather provides for spectacular views of nature as well as some solitude. Just be sure to respect the dangers of winter hiking, dress appropriately, and you’ll have an incredible time. Remember to layer your clothes, dress in lightweight and breathable garments, keep warm throughout the trip, and dry out your clothing as soon as possible. You don’t want to be carrying around a soaking wet backpack full of moldy clothes after a long day of hiking.