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How To Stay Safe During Winter Camping And Hiking

Laurie Gullion, coordinator of the Outdoor Education option at the University of New Hampshire, says people who hike and camp in winter need to have previous experience in other seasons as well as in higher, exposed elevations to test their personal preparedness and decision-making. In addition, winter backpackers should:

  • Get training from a reputable organization on cold-weather first aid, camping, map and compass, and avalanche awareness.
  • Go with a support group of qualified friends.
  • Plan on being out overnight, even if it’s a day trip.
  • Leave a trip plan with a contact person, including a time when they should contact search and rescue authorities.
  • Know how to manage their clothing and gear systems to stay dry and functional.
  • Consume enough calories and water to avoid dehydration, a loss of energy, and cold injuries like frostbite.
  • Understand the weather to make appropriate and conservative decisions, especially about turning back or dropping quickly below tree line in the face of worsening weather.