So what do you take with you when you are winter walking? (Wow that was an easy blog... only kidding!). With everyone having their own way of packing their rucksack when it comes to winter walking we at Simply Hike have come up with a core of "must haves" when packing your rucksack.
The first thing to consider is what size rucksack to use? Well we would recommend any rucksack between 35 to 45 litres. This will assure you that you will have enough space for everything (including your all-important lunch). Remember you will be carrying slightly more equipment with you than if you were walking in the hills in the summertime.
Also something else to consider will be the style of the rucksack. Really look at how many pockets it has, what the back system looks like, and the overall shape of the pack. Remember when it comes to winter walking the less you have to strap to the outside of your pack the better, that way you can’t or won’t lose any equipment. With this in mind don’t forget to check the inside of the pack too.
You are no doubt thinking “guy’s I will be wearing all my clothing!” Well the best way to start your hike is to start cold. If you layer up from the get-go, within 15 minutes you will be sweating like crazy which really isn’t good for you. So when packing for your winter walk make sure you account for either your waterproof or warm jacket. Of course you will still wear your baselayers, midlayer, salopettes and or your walking trousers with waterproof over trousers. But the best way to control your core body temperature is what you wear over the top of them.
You will also need to consider packing spare hats and gloves. Because you never know what is going to happen. It’s better to have them and not need them rather than needing them and not having them! Another thing to think about is if you are going to pack other clothing items like midlayers, you really want to stop from “over packing” and carrying too much weight on your back.
Now you have sorted out what clothing you will be carrying, it’s time to think about what equipment you will want to take. First things first, think about the key things you would take on your summer walks and incorporate them into your winter pack. Must haves from your summer hiking bag are: maps, compass, first aid kit (just make sure it’s a waterproof one), head torch, emergency shelter (or bothy shelter) and lastly a walking pole.
We would recommend changing your water bottle for a thermal mug or flask just to help keep your core warm but that is personal preference. Make sure that the map you have is a waterproof one, if it isn’t then we strongly suggest getting a map case.
The most important
equipment that you will need to carry is your ice axe, crampons and goggles (this is why you need a bigger pack). Now make sure that you have a crampon bag for your crampons (you don’t want them tearing up your bag from the inside) and that you also have protectors for your ice axe.
Before you put the crampons and ice axe in your pack make sure that you have checked them over! So connect the crampons to your boots and adjust them there and then (you really don’t want to be doing that when you half way up a mountain). Check over the ice axe, make sure the head isn’t loose or that there are any “stress marks” on the axe head and shaft. When it comes to the goggles make sure that the lenses aren't scratched, the goggle adjusts easily and just put them on for around ten minutes before you pack them away to check the anti-fog.
And before you stuff it all in your pack just have it laid out in front of you to give everything one final check. Is there something that we have missed? Do you pack yours differently? Let us know!