The season of crystal cold nights, along with frost and sparkling white peaks of mountains has arrived in Norway. The winter brings many changes to the world around all of us. During this season, some animals migrate, some people prefer to curl up with a good book by the fire, and some people will continue to hike and climb in the snowy paths of our world. Cold winters can quickly bring on life-threatening medical conditions such as hypothermia. To be able to enjoy our nature environment, humans have to wear proper cloths to remain safe while hiking. It’s important to spend time preparing gear and routes and knowledge is a key to understand how winter weather can be. Let’s have a look on how to prepare and dress.
During the winter season the weather can be rough, deadly and frosty. Enough knowledge about how to prepare for these conditions are important for your own safety. If you ain’t showing any respect for the weather you can be full of regret after a hike. Hypothermia is a condition when a body dissipates more heat than it absorbs. In humans, it is defined as a body core temperature below 35 °C. Cold temperatures and wind chill can make a person’s body temperature drop in just minutes. Hypothermia can be a life-threatening conditions. It’s our major concern during the winter season and important to prevent.
Along with hypothermia, frostbite will also be important to prevent. Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Exposed skin in the cold makes your skin become cold, red, numb and hard. The skin on your fingers, toes and face are the most common places to get frostbites. Windy conditions is most vulnerable to frostbite. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, it is important to keep all skin covered and dry during cold weather. Remember that frostbite can occur if you are using mittens. Once a person has hypothermia or frostbite, the primary treatment is rewarming the patient.
Different Layers – The Key To Stay Warm
During the winter season you have to dress for a wide range of activity levels, such as when you are climbing uphills or when you are resting and need to bundle up. The recommended approach for winter expeditions and hikes is to apply clothing layers. The ancient art of layering becomes your smart-technology thermostat. You can add clothing layers when you get cold, and take off layers when you start to sweat. Sweating is you main concern and you should always try to avoid sweating because wet or damp clothing will chill you when you stop moving. During your hike you can either take off layers if you start to sweat, or you can slow down your pace to generate less body heat.
When you start a hike in the winter, you’ll probably be wearing a lot of cloths, such as gloves, hat, long underwear, warm socks, insulated boots and gaiters. After about 10 to 20 minutes, you’ll probably take off some of your layers to adjust the temperature. Let’s get more knowledge about the different layers you can and should apply. Each layer have different function and this is the 3 basic layers:
Base Layer – Transport sweat off your skin
The base layer is the fist layer that is onto your skin. This base layer function is to move perspiration away from your skin. In cold conditions, you will need this important layer to keep your skin dry. If your skin gets wet, you will become chilled or worse hypothermic. To prevent this use natural fibers like merino wool, silk or a combination of these. There is also a wide range of fabric options, but i will highly recommend natural fibers. These fibers dry quickly if they turn wet, and have a huge transportation rate. Start of with some thin wool socks, and add a heavier wool sock on top of that. You should also use long underwear and a wool underpants in real cold conditions. For your upper body I always use a thin merino wool. It’s very important that you don’t use cotton cloths as your base layer. Cotton takes long time to dry, and it won’t transport the perspiration away from your skin.
Middle Layer – Retains body heat to protect you from the cold
The middle layer helps you retain the heats you generate by your body. The more efficiency this layer traps the heat, the warmer you will be. This layer is almost the same as the base layer, you have a broad range of options. In general, thicker equals warmer. I would still stick to natural fabrics, but you can also use synthetic fabrics. You can apply a polyester fleece that is available from lightweight to heavyweight. The fleece retain the heat, also if it gets wet and it dry fast. Fleece also breathes well and thats an important part to prevent the overheat. When a product breathes well, the wind will also blows right through, which can steal heat. The last layer’s job is to prevent this, and it’s called the outer layer.
Outer Layer – Your shield
The outer layer is supposed to protect you from wind, rain and snow. This layer is often called the shell layer. The equipment you will use at your outer layer range from mountaineering jackets to simple wind-resistant jackets. It’s important that the shell layer let some of the perspiration escape. Your outer shell is an important piece in the mountains where the weather rapidly changes. If wind and water are allowed to penetrate to inner layers, you can get seriously chilled and cold.
If you have read the article, I think you have enough knowledge to head out for a winter hike! You will get experience fast, and see what kind of cloths you prefer to use. If you dress to light you will experience this very fast and you will then be able to try another setup on your next hike. It’s always wise to bring enough cloths, better to carry that extra sweater or socks. Experience is knowledge! I always start of a hike with 9 essentials, you can read more about this here, 9 essentials you need while hiking.