Top tips for winter walking

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.

Start early

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.

Layer up

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.  


Hannah Cogan
Hannah Cogan

Author