By Laura Wilmot.
Autumn is coming to an end and with it many people's favorite hiking season. Today, I want to share with you some equipment that will make you want to extend your hiking season throughout the winter.
Of course with the arrival of winter comes several other activities, we look forward to cross-country skiing, ski touring and skating, among others. On the other hand, I also like to explore my favorite trails in a completely different setting when the snow appears. Today I offer you some “musts” for your outings!
Okay, let’s name the elephant in the room right away…. the crampons! There are several schools of thought regarding the famous crampons. Personally, I wouldn't do without it! This allows me to go hiking at any time. I did Mont du Dôme in January last year, and I honestly think that without my crampons, I wouldn't have made it to the summit.
Here are my favorites, on sale almost everywhere, to help you feel comfortable and safe all winter long: https://www.sail.ca/en/hillsound-trail-crampon-hikings-cleats-395095
Here are some basic ideas to fully enjoy your winter hikes:
In my opinion, the key is multi-layering. Winter conditions can really vary, a hike at -30 and a hike where it's a mild 0, it's not at all the same "game". The intensity at which you want to do your activity will also have an impact. So prioritize pieces that you can either remove or put on easily (the onion technique).
For my part, my layers look like:
-long sleeve sports sweater
-a merino wool sweater (merino wool doesn't absorb odors, so it's a pretty cool investment to make)
-a windbreaker (https://petitmontagnard.ca/collections/coupe-vent-grand-montagnard).
You might be cold for the first few minutes of your hike, but you'll warm up pretty quickly, trust me. Then when it gets colder, I have my compressed down jacket in my backpack which I put on once at the summit, because as soon as you stop moving + the wind factor, you cool down quickly.
As for my lower body, I always have winter leggings for cooler days and more sporty hikes. When we go for longer periods of time, I add a little waterproof winter pants, in addition to being windproof and therefore warming the parts of the legs which cool down more quickly. As for stockings, I also suggest merino wool stockings.
To keep your head warm, a headband is perfect (hello Petit Montagnard headbands) or even a toque, once again I would say depending on the level of intensity.
- The mountain pass is a Must if it is cold at the Summit. Your head, your neck, your face stay warm!
Finally, I always have a spare kit in the car so I can change at the end and get back dry and warm. - your favorite Little Mountaineer thriller waiting for you in the car!!
My little personal touch: I always have a small burner in my backpack, enough to make a hot chocolate once at the summit or a soup to warm up once back at the car! It depends if you're team sweet or savory ;)
Have a good winter hike :)