Sunday, January 18, 2015

My 5 Nonessential Essentials in a Winter Hiking Trip

While trudging along the trail this past week, enduring frigid temps with cold winds that cut through even my heavyweight Polartec fleece, I thought about those things that some may not consider essential but you were to sure find in my pack on a winter hiking trip.
 Be ready for ice sculptures with a camera (phone)

1. A Cell Phone - an important tool especially if the trip goes wrong. Doubles as a camera, too, if you happen across the icy spectacle worth making a memory.

2. Chapstick – Oh yes, that tiny little tube of wonder that keeps your lips from drying and then cracking when you near the end of your journey, smiling from a great wander. Sore lips are no fun, especially if afterwards you plan to stop at the taco joint. OUCH

3. A Seat Pad – once a luxury item, maybe a HUGE necessity when you plan to stop for a break or lunch and find the rocks covered in snow. Or even sitting in the cold on an ice cold rock just makes you downright chilly. Thermarest and other brands makes nice lightweight options to keep your tushy from freezing on a break.

4. Traction devices like Yak Trax or Microspikes.  I can’t begin to say the number of times I have begun a trail without anything on the ground, only to hike higher elevation into unexpected snow and ice. Traction devices have saved a hike, turning what would have been a treacherous journey into an enjoyable, confident, and safe excursion.

Unexpected icy trails - Yaktrax or similar helps the trek

5. Wind shirt – While pricey at times, this ultralight garment is truly a necessity when the winter winds whip up, cutting right through your Polartec fleece or merino wool top. It provides just what you need to block the wind and keep you warm.

Your turn – what are your nonessential essentials?

Be sure to also check out my blog on Day Hiking in Winter

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Virginia said...

A buff which can be used around your neck and over your nose. Makes a big difference.

Lauralee Bliss said...

Great idea! Buff or balaclava.

Tami said...

Hmmm...I carry rain pants and jacket this time of year, not for rain, but for the added layer of warmth in case of high winds or extreme temps. The other thing I carry that most may not is either a sleeping bag liner, or if temps are really low, a sleeping bag, even on a day hike--just in case one of us gets hurt and has to wait for help to come. Hypothermia is a "fear" of mine!