Winter joyride is coming closer. Our preparations have already begun. The enthusiasm to dig in snow vanquishes the thought of how to stay warm in the cold. It is only when we have arrived in the minus degrees we start fidgeting to stay warm. So, before you even pack, make sure you some common yet overlooked methods. Only when you have good gear, you can be cool about staying warm!
Choose Layers over Prayers
You keep hearing about wearing layers every time. This is the primary remedy to stay warm with least efforts and less gear. The typical layering goes like this, in extremely cold temperatures.
For upper body
T shirt (full-sleeves preferred)
Another layer of T-shirt/Shirt
Waterproof or Windproof jacket (outermost layer when it is snowing or raining)
For Lower Body
Hiking pants (normal) or only one Winter hiking pant can work
Based on how warm you feel you can skip any of the above layers. But the idea is instead of wearing 2-3 thick and heavy jackets; one jacket also suffices the need with the proper layering of clothes. The explanation for this is that between layers there is an air gap that works as insulation too. Now, you can use your logic, the more layers (even though they are thin), the more insulation and less cold! Also, the weight of 2-3 t-shirts is much less than 2-3 thick jackets.
Again, while walking or during day time try to avoid wearing thermals. When you sweat the thermals will get moist and dry up slow. This will make you feel cold. Wear thermals only at night or during summit attempt, such that they can be removed whenever you feel hot. The trick to do this is to wear a T-shirt first then thermal above it. While walking if you feel hot, just remove the thermal and wear the other layers.
Insulated Gear no cold fear
Keeping head and hands covered is of utmost importance to stay warm. For winter treks especially carry woollen or insulated caps, gloves, buff or socks. You can carry 2 separate buffs, use normal one to cover the face and woollen one around your neck. Prefer woollen caps over buffs or bandana to cover your head.
Layers also work for your feet. For colder feet wear 2-3 socks even while walking especially for long hours hiking in the snow. Make sure you have a fresh pair of woollen socks for sleeping, do not use these while walking.
Wear polarised sunglasses to avoid snow blindness.
Carry a waterproof or windproof jacket which acts as the outermost layer when it is snowing or raining.
Find hiking shoe ankle-length high, waterproof and mid-layer insulated. Even after long hours in the snow, your shoes must not get moist and also must keep your feet warm.
The cold fight at night
A complete sleep means complete recovery. In freezing nights sleeping like a baby is hard. Here is when proper insulated gear, clothing comes into help. You can wear all the layers, cover feet with 2-3 woollen socks then hide in the sleeping bag.
Before doing that remember that once you enter the sleeping bag within a few minutes you start feeling warmer. If you feel hot or start sweating remove the immediate outer layer like. a thick jacket or fleece (if needed). Otherwise, by the time you wake up in the morning the sleeping and your clothes get damp due to sweating. It is undue loss of body water. Based on your previous night or early experience wear only the necessary clothing. The moment you feel pricking hot, take the efforts and remove the outer layer.
Ditch the unhealthy cold drinks
We literally do not mean cold drinks here but avoid drinking cold water. It is a trick to staying warm by injecting warm liquids in the body. While hot tea and soup are negligible to the amount of water we consume throughout the day. It is of prime importance to drink warm water. Therefore, carry a flask to keep water hot. It also avoids throat swelling and cold.
Do not fall for low quality plastic water bottles. Many times the water bottles crack or get brittle when water freezes in the bottles.
Healthy thoughts wealthy experience
However, it may happen that despite all the things you may still feel cold. At last, your mind is the saviour. Keep your mind diverted do not worry about feeling cold. A strong mind can fight anything. The more you keep thinking about the cold the more you will feel it. Just keep calm, stay cool and you will feel warm
Eat a full meal: Give your stomach enough fuel to generate the heat
Always walk in one pace, do not sweat: Sweating will cause the inner layers to get wet and in turn will make you feel cold.
You can refer our Walking in Snow techniques to maintain the slow pace and save energy
Refer our guide on how to select proper hiking shoes