Written by Justin “Trauma” Lichter
Outdoor adventures can be had in any season and any conditions, as long as you’re prepared and ready for what you may encounter. As the seasons change, so will the gear that you’ll need to bring. That doesn’t mean mean that you can just swap a “summer gear bin” for the “winter gear bin” though. Each item still needs to be assessed for the conditions and the type of trip that you are planning. Most importantly a check of the weather forecast before you leave will also have to be taken into account. Here are some obvious and not so obvious things to remember as you head out in each season…
It’s a season in flux. The beginning of Fall can vary greatly from the end of fall. Cold, wind, and snow is possible, especially in the mountains. However if the sun is out it can be warm and gorgeous. Temperatures can change fast, so have layers ready and accessible. Also if you’re hiking out West, seasonal water sources may be dry so be sure to have adequate water supply for a full day.
Winter is an amazing time to head into the outdoors. It’s quiet and solitary, but you need to be prepared. Layers are mandatory. Perspiration prevention and body temperature control is critical. Shed layers before you sweat, and add layers before you get cold to help maximize the efficiency of your body and prevent hypothermia. You may be surrounded by water but not be able to effectively use any of it since it’s all frozen. Melting snow is time consuming and inefficient. Running water can be hard to find in some climates since it may all be frozen. Plan accordingly and avoid your water freezing in your pack by using a thermos, an insulated water bottle, an insulating case and storing it upside down. Also navigation and staying on the trail can be more difficult if it’s buried by snow. Be prepared with maps and GPS with waypoints already built in.
Be ready for bugs and mud and residual snow in many areas. DEET products are the only bug sprays that truly work when the bloodsuckers are at their worst. If planning to see steeper terrain with residual snow, carry lightweight traction devices like the Vargo Pocket Cleats or CAMP crampons that work with any shoes.
Heat can be blistering and enough water may be hard to come by. If necessary,plan on siestas in the shade. Wear light colored clothing and start early in the morning and hike until it gets hot. Wait out the heat of the day, then start again in the evening. This will maximize efficiency and minimize the water intake you’ll need. You can also carry a solar reflective umbrella to help shade you throughout the day if you’re likely to be in direct sun.