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With many walking trails deserted in the cooler months, winter is a great time for hillwalking. Whilst winter walking can be a cold and miserable if you're unprepared or underdressed, some easy preparation will help you enjoy the best of winter wonderland walking. Here are our top tips.
Yes, getting up in the dark is rubbish. Having to walk home when you’re tired and it’s dark is much, much worse. Remember that snowfall often makes it hard to navigate paths and can hide obstacles, and poor visibility and tiredness will likely end in an injury or getting very, very lost. Especially if you’re hiking with young children or novice walkers, make the effort to get going early and plan to be back before nightfall.
It’s worth giving your walking kit a winter MOT. Lots of light layers are better than a few heavy ones. It’s worth investing in really good waterproofs, just in case it suddenly starts raining sideways and light, synthetic base layers will wick sweat away, keeping you comfortable. I like a wool jumper as a mid-layer; it will stay warm even if it gets wet. Good footwear is always essential. Bring appropriate boots for the conditions and a couple of spare pairs of socks; wet feet are the worst. If you’d like help picking out a pair of Anatom boots for your winter walk, give us a call or drop us a line. If you find your feet get cold quickly, a pair of our lambswool inserts can do wonders.
Keep your navigation skills sharp
When trails are obscured by snowfall and landmarks are harder to see, it’s much easier to get lost. Bring a really good map and a compass or GPS. Don’t assume you’ll recognise a trail you’ve walked in the summer; it can look pretty different in the snow.
Pack a torch
It can get dark quickly in the winter and no matter how early you’ve started, you can sometimes get stuck. Bring along a handheld or head torch, just in case.
Food and drink
Drink lots of water! It can be easy to forget when you aren’t hot and thirsty, but you can still get dehydrated in the winter months. If you’re hiking in really cold weather, keep your bottle close to your body to stop it freezing. In cold weather, you’ll burn up some calories keeping warm. Bring along some sugary snacks to keep your energy levels up.
Don't forget your sunscreen!The worst sunburn I’ve ever had came after a day scrambling around the Cairngorms in February. Wind and sun can still burn when its cold out, so be liberal with the sunscreen and a lip balm with SPF.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Anatom hiking blog! We’re going to be using this space to trade hiking tips, show you some of our favourite walks, and give plenty of good advice on walking, hiking and trekking. We’ll also be announcing new products, showing you more about how our top quality shoes and products are made, and running competitions and giveaways for all you lovely hikers.
My name is Hannah and I am your Anatom blogger. I’m a lifelong hiker and climber, and have just moved to the UK, so I’m discovering great hiking and walking trails as I go. I’ve been hiking and hillwalking since I was small, but have just started to get in to more serious trekking and technical climbing. You’ll be hearing lots about my adventures and seeing pictures from my walks, and I’ll be passing on everything I learn to you.
We want lots of input from you as well. You can connect with us on social media via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We want hear about your favourite walks. I’m heading up to Aberdeen in January; anyone got any great walks they can recommend?
We want to see lots of pictures as well. Why not send us a picture of somewhere great your Anatom footwear has been?
I look forward to getting to know you all over the next few months. Happy hiking!
Hiking downhill is often taken for granted. For lots of walkers and mountaineers, getting back down a hill you’ve just spent hours or days climbing up is, comparatively, the easy part. Hiking downhill though, can take its toll. When I did my first major trek (Kilimanjaro), the two days we spent walking down were much harder than the seven days walking up. The wear and tear on your knees and ankles is staggering, and I’m pretty sure my toenails have never been the same since.
Learning how to move downhill efficiently is important; it helps minimise joint and muscle stress and can help prevent falls and slips. As a bonus, descending with good technique will help you feel faster and lighter, without expending any physical effort. Here’s our guide to great descent technique.
Try and keep your centre of gravity low and neutral, and resist the urge to lean forward or back. It helps minimise the stress on your joints by keeping your movement more fluid. Pay attention to your foot placement; it can be very tempting after a long hike to “let it all hang out” and kick your feet out. Try and keep your feet in line with your ankles and knees and keep your movement deliberate. Keep your downhill leg bent on impact; it’ll help take some of the pressure off your knees.
You may need to adjust your pack on a downhill slope; it can be useful to tighten your hip belt as well. A loose pack can swing around and impede your balance. If you’re going to be hiking downhill alot, be aware of the risks of carrying an overly heavy pack, which can be taxing on your back. If you’re carrying camping gear or other heavy loads, try and plan a route that avoids really steep descents.
If you’ve never tried using hiking poles before (we like ours, but then again, we’re biased) give them a try on your next major downhill run. They’re very useful for testing loose ground and helping maintain balance, as well as taking some of the weight strain off your lower body.
Lastly, keep it easy, fluid and slow on your descent. Move with the terrain, not against it, just as you would going up hill. Above all, don’t rush. Take smaller, shorter steps; a bit like the higher gears on a bike, shorter steps help you stay in greater control of your descent and can help prevent slips and falls.
If you’re going somewhere with a spectacular descent, have fun and don’t forget to send us a postcard. We’re always looking for your hiking pictures, which you can share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.