Many of us get very excited about playing in the snow this time of year, and rightly so. But don't forget about hiking!
Some days simply aren't conducive to being in the snow. High freezing levels, wet snow conditions, too much ice, family commitment in the morning? Well, the trails in the lower mountains are often uncovered (or lightly covered) and still provide a mountain experience. And in many places even a half day will be enough for some mountain exploration. Of course, a waterproof pack and a few other pieces of gear can make things go smoothly. We've been out on a few of these winter hikes recently and a few pieces of Exped gear were excellent choices:
The Torrent 20 is a roll-top, waterproof daypack for just such outings. Tough as well!
The Bivybag Duo might look a little funny, but it's a serious piece of gear. It's a great item in an emergency, but our favorite way of using it is as a "comfort station." It's amazing how warm it is in there with another person and no biting wind pulling heat away from you.
Sit Pad shouldn't be overlooked for winter hiking. You can certainly sit on your pack to keep from losing heat through your bottom side, but that's not always convenient or desirable. Carrying this light and compact insulation makes eating that sandwich much more comfortable.
A few other items are great for these cold winter hikes - and these we don't make but find ourselves using:
- Kahtoola Microspikes - these are excellent for those stretches of icy snow on the trail - especially on the decent!
- Vacuum bottle - bring hot soup, coffee or tea and you will be warm from the inside
- Puffy jacket - you might not use one on summer hikes, but bring one in winter
- Neck gaiter - we like the thin, merino wool versions. Super versatile and works like a tiny little scarf...
- Gaiters - again, an item that might not be carried on a summer trail, but when you hit the snow you will want them. Shorties are fine!
The bottom line (literally here on the bottom line) is that your other winter sports shouldn't completely eclipse your hiking. When all you have is a few hours this might just be the right thing. See you out there!