For outdoor adventurers, any season is a good season. What is more, for many outdoorsmen, the winter season brings a lot of opportunities to hit the backcountry and have some active fun while enjoying quality time off from work and the daily grind. Whether you like to keep it close to home or fly to exotic locations like Peru or Caucasus, stay on the track with these ultimate winter vacation prep tips.
Get your gear in place
Staying warm in extreme temperatures is sometimes challenging, especially when you need to stay active and keep freedom of movement. The answer lies in layering. A light base layer under a light pullover and a heavy sports jacket should be your starting point. The rest of the gear depends on personal preferences and the situation. Warm hiking-style boots are a must, so make sure you choose a quality brand that offers a lot of tractions that prevents slips on icy and muddy paths and make sure their soles have a shank that makes walking on rough terrain much less punishing.
Just as important as preparing the right gear, you need to prepare yourself for what is coming. Make sure you’re physically fit for skiing, snowboarding, climbing, kayaking, or whatever outdoor sport you plant to do. By building your fitness for the activities you plan to do, you can reduce the risk of unexpected injury that not only sets you back but also ruins your vacation. If you injure yourself, make sure you know what to do, or at least where to seek out help. Sometimes hiking down the mountain is all you have to do, but sometimes you need to survive out in the open until the help reaches you.
Avoid frostbite and hypothermia
These two scenarios are probably the biggest dangers of spending an active outdoor vacation in winter months. The best way to avoid both is to stay warm and dry, but if you get exposed you should immediately seek a warmer environment as this can save your life. Contrary to what first crosses your mind, never rub or massage frostbitten limbs, but use your armpits, a warm companion, warm drink containers and warm clothes to thaw the frozen body parts.
Frozen or thawing ground can be tricky for walking, but it is a nightmare for driving. If there’s a chance of ice or slush on the road don’t use cruise control and make sure you’re using tires with deeper treads and cold weather composition. If you find yourself in a road accident, stay in your vehicle as this will keep you warm. Also, consider upgrading your SUV for winter conditions. Look for an outstanding supplier of 4WD parts that offers a whole range of exterior equipment products that can make your driving in winter conditions safer.
Stay clear of ice
Whether you’re walking or driving, watch for ice. If you have to cross an icy area, do it extremely carefully. Wear boots that provide good traction and point your feet slightly outward as this will make you more stable. When getting in and out of the vehicle, support yourself with something as transitioning from a solid to slippery surface can be dangerous.
Not many people know that in cold weather you’re at the highest risk of dehydration. In cold climates, people don’t realize they’re sweating and losing water, but dehydration is still going on. Drink a lot of water regularly as you enjoy your winter activities. Being thirsty over and over is the first sign of dehydration, so if you start feeling excessive thirst, take an electrolyte drink like Ceralyte to bring you back in balance.
Warm up and know your limits
Before any outdoor activity you should warm up, but at the same time try not to sweat as it can leave wet mist on your body and make your extremely cold once you step outside. Stretching is one of the best methods for warming up, especially for preparing the legs and core, which are the muscle groups you’re most likely to use. However, more importantly, you should know your limits. If your legs are becoming heavy, it’s better to return to your lodge or vehicle than to one more lap.
There’s no reason wintertime should set you back on your fitness goals and ruin your outdoor plans. With a bit of preparation, cold months can provide an additional challenge for testing your limits while enjoying a much-needed vacation.
By Mike Johnston