Some of the most amazing backpacking trails in the world are partnered with cold weather. It may be at night, maybe just during early morning, or even throughout the entire day. So, how do you stay warm while you are out on the trail in the cold?
What are you Wearing Right Now?
Clothing is the first part of a plan to stay warm. Knowing how cold the trail may be throughout the day is important in selecting the appropriate options. For your upper body, layering a basic t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, insulated jacket, and rain jacket is a basic, but effective strategy. As for your lower body, having a pair of pants, tights/long underwear, and even rain pants is a great way to stay warm. Having these gives you versatility throughout the day.
A lot of the jackets backpackers use have down or Gore-Tex. Down is known to be very light for its insulation qualities that it offers. When possible, choose a down-insulated jacket to reduce weight and stay warm. Keep in mind, they do not work well when it gets wet, so be sure to use a waterproof jacket (hence, Gore-Tex) to keep yourself warm and dry. Also, one thing hikers overlook is keeping your head warm. Though you will have 90% of your body covered up, keeping your head exposed will lead to a lot of heat escaping your body. Make sure to wear an accessory to keep your head warm like a winter cap or beanie.
Be strategic when knowing when to layer on the right clothing. If it seems that it will begin raining on your hike, put your rain jacket and pants on immediately. The last thing you want is to get wet, put them on, and now you’ve trapped cold water on your wet clothes. If you begin to get sweaty while hiking, be sure to remove layers when needed. The moral of the story is that wet clothes equals being cold.
The Cold, Cold Campsite
Even before you get to your destination, you should try to pick an area where sunlight hits first, that way you reduce the amount of time you are exposed to cold air in the mornings. Once you arrive at your campsite, there are a plethora of things you need to do to prepare and settle in. One tip that we have for everyone to stay warm after arrival is to change into warm, dry layers of clothing. You may have experienced rain, or sweat through some articles of clothing. It is best to simply change out of these so you can warm your body quickly. Mixing cold and warm camp activities is a good way to regulate body temperature. For instance, setting up a tent will keep you warm and active. Once you are done, you can go find water and begin to filter it out.
After hiking and setting up camp, you will face the cold nights. It’s especially a problem when you are trying to sleep, but all you are thinking about is the cold weather. Here are a couple of our favorite tips to stay warm at night!
- Put warm water into a Nalgene
- This is one of the oldest tricks in the books. Filling a hard-shell nalgene bottle with warm water and putting it inside your sleeping bag will help warm your bed for the night. Yes, you will need to use fuel and something to boil the water in, but it is definitely worth it.
- Light Exercise
- Doing some light exercise like push ups, squats, or crunches can help generate heat throughout your whole body. You should do this both before you sleep and once you wake up. Not to mention, it can help tire you out so you can sleep faster, or wake your body up in the morning.
- Eat a Good, Warm Meal
- Of course, warm food will always feel good as it enters your body in the cold weather. However, there is more to it. Having fuel inside your body through the night will keep your metabolism going, thus contributing to warming your body through the night.
Learn how to stay warm and get a good night’s rest by reading our blog post, Sleep Tight, You Deserve it!
As always, enjoy your trip, stay warm, and be safe!