Winter Hiking—5 Time-Tested Tips For Staying Warm

One of the best ways to stay warm is to simply keep moving along the trail. Aerobic exercise will help the body to generate more heat, keeping you warm in the process. This will allow you to stay surprisingly comfortable on the trail, even when the mercury drops well below freezing.

If you do stop, be smart about when and where you choose to take a break. For example, pick a spot that is protected from the wind and blowing snow. Large rocks, a cliff face, or even a tree can make for a good windbreak, giving you a chance to escape the maelstrom of winter for a bit. Wherever you decide to seek shelter, though, be careful not to sit down directly on the cold snow. That can cause your clothing to get wet, which will ultimately prove detrimental to heat retention once you resume hiking again.

When you aren’t walking your body will naturally begin to cool down, so limit your pitstops to just a few minutes. The sooner you start hiking again, the sooner you’ll start to warm back up and feel more comfortable.

If anyone in your party begins to exhibit signs of hypothermia, take steps immediately to get their core temperature restored:

  • Get them to shelter out of the wind

  • Build a fire to warm them up

  • Get them out of wet clothing and into warm, dry coats

  • Place them in a sleeping bag with another person to transfer body heat

  • Wrap warm heating packs or hot water bottles in a t-shirt and apply to the back of their neck, head, chest and groin area

  • Have them sip warm, sweet liquids

  • Never give a hypothermia victim alcohol as it restricts blood vessels and will only make the situation worse

Quick Tip: When hiking in the winter it is always a good idea to stash an extra layer in your backpack just in case. If temperatures start to drop or you find yourself getting wet, having a warm and dry piece of clothing you can pull on could be a lifesaver.


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