The temperatures are falling and the trail is beckoning, what do you do? You go hiking of course! Here are some tips and tricks to keep you warm on those days and nights that you ask yourself, “Why in the world am I doing this at this time of year”? When you have hiked the Appalachian Trail in the dead of winter, say around February when the cold and the snow are definitely in full force you learn a trick or two that comes in handy.
One the coldest nights you can use your Nalgene water bottle to warm your sleeping bag. All you do is boil some water and fill the Nalgene or two if you have more than one. Wrap the bottle in a shirt or something so that you do not burn yourself, the bottle will get very hot. Place the bottle or two in your sleeping bag. One placed at the foot is a sure fire way to keep your feet warm. There is nothing worse than cold feet after a long days hike in the snow for a hiker.
If you have a second water bottle you can place it next to you in the sleeping bag so that the upper portion of the bag gets warm too. Now believe it or not the bottles will stay hot most if not all of the night. Usually by the next morning if you have a good sleeping bag the water bottle will still be warm. You can use the water the next morning to make a warm cup of morning tea. Speaking of morning tea, make sure to start the day off right, a hot cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate will give you more inspiration to walk than will a cup of cold water.
Now if you are one of those hikers that like to enjoy your trip and take your time hiking so that you do not miss anything then you are used to getting up in the morning and taking your time at breakfast as well. Even though a hot breakfast will make you feel good, an energy packed breakfast will do just the same with a slightly longer effect. Best thing that you can do to get warm in the morning on the trail is to walk. So trick number two, get up and pack up and walk as soon as you can.
It is very tempting to sit around a warm campfire and drink warm coffee and eat warm oatmeal. But take it from a hiker that’s been there and done that, WALK and walk as soon as you can. Some mornings it is best to start hiking as soon as you wake up and get packed, put off the breakfast till later when it warms up a bit. Usually on the trail you will get up early anyhow, sometimes it is just too early and too cold to eat.
There are these pocket warmers that you can buy that will keep you very warm too. Have you seen them? Usually used by hunters, they are now showing up in outfitters and hikers hostels for use on the trail by hikers. If you have enough of these little packages you can put one in each pocket you have and in your boots and gloves. Then when you are out in the snow hiking your way to freedom you will be a lot warmer than you would without them. They work for a long time and are very lightweight as well.
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