When the weather gets colder and the leaves fall off the trees, it's easy to stay inside and
forget about the opportunities for outdoor recreation. The winter is a great time to hike
or camp, as long as you are adequately prepared for the activity. Your children will appreciate
the added challenges involved in winter camping.
When you are getting your gear together, don't forget a digital camera, and binoculars. The
Nikon Monarch binoculars are popular for outdoor enthusiasts. Bring a
journal to record any observations and anecdotes that you want to remember. You
can have fun when you get home putting together a scrapbook of your adventure.
You will have challenges, but you will come away with many wonderful memories.
Here are 7 tips to insure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable adventure.
Layer your clothes. It's best to think of three layers of clothing. The first layer
which is closest to the skin should be made of a synthetic material that will wick
away moisture. It is important to stay dry after you cool down. Cotton is a poor
choice because it stays wet after sweating and cooling. The second layer should contain
insulation to retain body heat. Most polyesters are treated to retain body heat. The
third layer is the outer shell. This is basically a windbreaker and protects the body from
moisture and wind.
Keep your feet dry. Make sure your boots are waterproof. Don't wear too many socks.
As with your clothing, a sock liner that wicks away moisture is a good choice. Then the heavy
hiking sock goes on. Too many socks will make your feet sweat and as you cool off, your
feet will get cold. Always have extra dry socks to change into at the end of the day.
Keep your head warm. Most of your body heat is lost through your head. Make sure you
wear a hat that can cover your ears. Ears can easily get frostbitten if they are not protected.
Along the same line, waterproof gloves are very important. You don't want your fingers to
freeze up, so protect them.
Drink adequate water. Make sure you drink enough water to stay fully hydrated. You may not
think you need as much water in the cold weather, but the air itself is very dry and you will dry
out quickly. When you see your breath in the air, that is water vapor that you are losing.
Eat lots of high calorie snacks. Your body is working extra hard just staying warm and you
need lots of high carbohydrate and fat snacks. High energy bars fit the bill. Snacks are a good
choice to eat while you are hiking, because every time you break for lunch, you cool off. If you
can eat while you are walking, you will be much better off.
Sleep warm. If you are camping overnight, it's a good idea to have two sleeping pads for
additional insulation. One should be a self inflating pad and another could be a foam pad.
Make sure your sleeping bag is rated appropriately for the night temperatures you expect.
Down bags provide the best insulation, but if there is a chance they will get wet, you will be
better off with a synthetic bag. Try to drink something warm just before you go to bed.
If it's not too cold, a three season tent will suffice. Make sure the zippers are insulated and the
floor is airtight. The Coleman Weathermaster family tent is a good choice. However, if you
are expecting snow, a four season tent is sturdier because the poles are stronger and it will
withstand a load of snow on the top of the tent.
Watch your time. Since the days are shorter in the winter, allow enough time to return to
the trailhead or to your campsite. Always carry a flashlight with extra batteries with you.
These are time tested guidelines for winter camping. There are a few more challenges, but the rewards
are great. If you follow these tips, you and your children will enjoy a whole new dimension of hiking