Winter is a unique season to play outside, not only are temperatures low, but the mountains can have some of the quickest weather changes you’ll ever experience. Packing for the day can be a daunting task so we thought we would share a few of our favourite tips.
Having the right foods for a winter adventure can be the difference between a good day and a GREAT day: your body can produce as much as 10% more heat when it’s kept fueled up with good foods. When we pack lunch for our guests, we always think about taste & energy. Pack foods that are edible and taste good even if cold. A good example is packing trail mix rather than granola bars (eating a chilled granola bar is somewhat similar to eating concrete). For lunches, I enjoy packing wraps filled with veggies, cheese, hummus and chicken or turkey. Good clean food energy to keep your body producing heat!
Having hot tea, coffee or even a hot lunch is one of the best additions to any day on snowshoes and all it takes is a good thermos and some planning ahead. Whenever I use a thermos for winter adventures I always fill them with boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes before putting in hot soup or drinks. This gets the thermos nice and hot to reduce the amount of heat lost when you pour in the good stuff.
We talked about choosing the right clothes in another article, but what about putting them all away? When I’m packing for winter, I like to use the “stuff and fit” method. Essentially, wherever there is free space, that’s where my clothes go! At the bottom of the pack, I’ll put an extra set of gloves, an extra tuque and any other items I’m less likely to need. On top of them, I’ll place my water and thermos and surround them with any other clothing I’ve chosen to bring (extra socks, extra layers). Finally, I’ll wrap my lunch up in my down coat and place it on top as I will usually need them at the same time.
There are a few extra’s that I always suggest you pack for winter adventures. A pocket knife is one of the handiest tools you can bring, especially at lunch for slicing cheese or treats. Bringing along a headlamp is always a great idea, the sun can head down fast in winter and your headlamp can really be a lifesaver if your adventure runs a little late. A well-stocked first-aid kit, extra water and extra clothes (socks, gloves, tuque and layers) are also very important to bring.
Packing for winter takes practice and it’s never perfect. I’m always tinkering with my system to make sure I’m prepared! Try different systems and find what works best for you.