Gear up on winter essentials

Yeah! The snow finally fell, and you can't wait to head into the mountains for some backcountry skiing or snowshoeing.

Before you go, put together the items you would need if you unexpectedly got stuck and had to spend a night or two. Some of these, such as matches, fire starters, map, compass and first-aid kit, are typical to outdoor nature outings year-round. Others, however, have extra importance in the winter.

  • Extra clothing: Layer clothing made of materials such as wool or polypropylene, which wick sweat and moisture away from the body.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Night falls fast during the winter. A battery-powered light source can help campers and hikers cope better with the shorter daylight hours. Don't forget to take extra batteries, too.
  • Extra food: Winter activities, such as hiking and snowshoeing, burn up a lot of calories. Bring plenty of extra food to keep your energy level high.
  • Plenty of water: Staying hydrated can become a challenge in cold weather. So, drink often.
  • Emergency shelter and/or sleeping bag: These are a must, whether you plan to camp overnight or need to spend the night at a site because of the conditions.
  • Portable shovel: An important winter survival tool that becomes extremely useful when digging a snow cave or other form of shelter. Moreover, a shovel becomes a critical tool when trying to dig someone out from under an avalanche.
  • Avalanche beacon: Consider carrying an avalanche beacon. And know how to use it properly.

Source: Washington Trails Association

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