With the winter trekking season starting, trekkers are naturally worried about how to prepare for the fierce cold that faces trekkers. Arjun Majumdar talks about how to tackle the snowy conditions.
First, stop thinking that extreme cold is unbearable. Even a harsh winter is not difficult to beat if you are prepared. Your preparation for a winter trek starts with your warm clothes.
For a temperature that goes down to -15°C or lower, the rule of thumb is to be in six layers. With every subsequent increase in temperature by 10 degrees (say from -15°C to -5°C), you can strip off one layer. But never strip off to less than 3 layers.
So what are the layers that you need?
An example of six layer clothing for -15°C would be:
1 thermal inner
2 full sweaters
1 Hollow-fill jacket
But you can make your own variations of this. For example, I wear one sweater with a fleece jacket and then add a hollow-fill jacket over it. It keeps me warm for any situation.
For your legs, one thermal inner, with two synthetic track/trek pants is usually more than enough to tackle the worst. Keep an extra track pant in hand for an additional layer.
But what needs more protection are your finger, toes, ears and nose. You need to see that they stay warm and dry most times. This is what you need:
1 Woolen cap
1 water proof gloves
2-3 pairs of woolen socks
1 scarf (that can cover the neck and some bit of the face).
A scarf is something a lot of people ignore, but is a lifesaver. A scarf can protect your neck, your nose or work as an extra glove. This multi-utility gear is a must for a winter trek.
Keep in mind. During the day when the sun is out and you are trekking, it actually gets very warm with the layers of clothes you have on. So be prepared to peel off layers depending on the heat. At times you'll sweat -- so it makes sense to wear quick dry synthetic T-shirts rather than cotton as your first layers (which retains water longer).
The next important equipment to keep in mind is your shoe. You need a shoe that protects you from the elements and gives you grip on snow. Watch this video for a guideline on how to buy your shoe.
Questions trekkers ask me often:
1. Do we need gaiters?
Gaiters are synthetic wrap around garments worn over the shoe and lower pant leg. When walking on snow that sinks your leg to the ankles or knees, they are very useful. On most trekking trails on snow in India, gaiters are not required. However, in winter a gaiter is a useful accessory to carry.
Trekking poles reduce stress and fatigue while trekking by over 40%. It is an important accessory to carry. A trekker without a trekking pole is half equipped for a trek.
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