Keeping warm sounds straightforward, but it’s easy to go wrong. Here are the essentials for how to stay safe in winter:
Layering is the most versatile way of staying warm. At its basic, this requires a base layer (merino is good in winter), a mid layer such as a fleece, an insulated jacket and a waterproof jacket. If it’s really cold, long johns are good too. Go on shorter walks first and find out what works for you. You should also take at least two pairs of gloves (one inner pair), a hat, and maybe gaiters.
It’s often hard to remember to keep drinking when it’s cold. Water is perfect for re-hydration, of course, and if you’re carrying a flask, hot fruit squash is the most hydrating option – although for short winter walks nothing beats a flask of tea.
Always take thick socks (and a spare pair) plus a good pair of walking boots. Many boots have a waterproof lining which is good for snowy conditions. For serious walking in snow and ice you’ll need crampons and crampon-compatible boots, but you can also get good ice-grippers for boots for lower level winter walks too.
It’s a good idea to use a bigger backpack in winter. Not only will you need more fuel (and a flask of tea) but on serious walks you can include a multi-person group shelter, as well as essentials like a first aid kit and head torch (with spare batteries). On clear days in the snow, sun cream and sunglasses are important too.
- Emergency bivouac bag
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Map and compass
- Headlamp plus spare batteries
- Walking boots
- Drink, food, snacks (plus extra food)
- First aid kit
- Hat and two pairs of gloves
- Spare dry warm layer
- Sunglasses and sunscreen (in snow)