Top 5 Essentials for Winter Walking

Winter walking is a wonderful way to get outside and see a different side to nature. But the Winter conditions mean you have to adapt certain things- the kit you carry, where you go and what you wear.

We asked Paul from Paul Poole Mountaineering to give us his top 5 essentials for Winter Walking. The following are just some ideas born out of experience!

1. Plan your day well

There are a couple of things to consider here, firstly the days are shorter and walking on snow and ice can be more tiring than in summer conditions, so initially don’t plan long mountain routes, try smaller peaks or easier routes. Its absolutely essential to consider the weather forecast in the days building up to your day, this allows you to start building a picture of the conditions on the ground. If you’re walking in certain areas of Scotland its advisable to consult the Scottish Avalanche Information Service as well.

Maybe the first few occasions you go out, visit mountains that you already know so you have some familiarity with the area. Consider the use of every piece of kit you carry to reduce the weight, but get the balance correct so you don’t skimp on warm clothing, food, drink and safety kit.

2. Know how to use your ice axe and crampons

Vital bits of kit you don’t leave home without! Ensure they fit correctly when you initially purchase them, its worth taking your boot in to the shop for this. Don’t be shy of wearing them earlier rather than later when it could be very awkward to put them on. Have your axe to hand at all times. At the beginning of each new winter season its worth finding a safe place to practise your self arrest.

3. Get your layering right!

This is a constant battle, but one worth spending the time getting right, don’t worry if you get it wrong a few times. Too many layers and you’ll sweat, which will chill you when you stop and too few layers means you’ll be uncomfortable and won’t enjoy the day as much! Always have a warm synthetic jacket which you can put over all your other layers when you stop for a cuppa.

4. Have more gloves in your bag than you think!

I actually always have two thin pairs, two thicker pairs and in the bottom of my bag, a bombproof pair if mitts! Gloves will always get wet or damp and then your hands chill, which is the time to change them, cold and wet hands are a real worry in a winter environment and really will stop you doing anything.

5. Be Bothered!

Be bothered to change your gloves when they’re damp, be bothered to check the weather forecast, be bothered to change your layers if you’re sweating too much, be bothered to get out into a winter environment and if you do so you won’t be disappointed!

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