Tuesday, 2 November 2010

What to wear for winter walking in Scotland

Just because it's colder, wetter, windier and darker it doesn't mean you should give up on walking in Scotland. As we've been blogging all year, walking is a great form of exercise and a fantastic mood booster so giving up shouldn't be an option. However, winter walking does come with more dangers than in the summer months so it's important that you're prepared for the weather conditions.

Lower-level walking in winter in Scotland

Rain, lighter winds, some ice and perhaps even snow will be the challenges facing the walker in the lower-level hills.

The minimum kit should include: Robust, waterproof walking boots, wick-away base layers, fleece, waterproof jacket, trousers, waterproof overtrousers, warm hat and gloves.

Pack in your rucksack: Extra base layers, an extra fleece, another pair of gloves, water, a flask of hot tea or coffee, food and energy bars or cereal bars, a compass and a map.

High level walking in winter in Scotland

Walking in Scotland's higher hills or mountains in winter is for the experienced only. Alternatively you could hire a guide. Weather conditions can rapidly change and it's vital that you know how to navigate in very low visibility. Expect ice, deep snow, high winds, white outs, heavy snow fall and rain.

Essential kit needs to be carried on your back so you should also be fit.

The minimum kit should include: Four seasons walking boots, wick-away base layers, fleeces, waterproof jacket, trousers, waterproof overtrousers, warm hat and warm gloves.

Pack in your rucksack: Extra base layers, an extra fleece, another pair of gloves, an extra hat, crampons, ice axe, a shelter in case of an accident, mobile phone, water, a flask of hot tea or coffee, food and energy bars or cereal bars, a compass and a map. A GPS gadget is a good idea too but you can't rely on this so a map and compass (and the ability to use them) are vital. A first aid kit would be a wise addition.

Always check the latest weather reports and avalanche warnings before setting out. If in doubt, it's best not to go, instead choosing a lower level alternative.

3 comments:

  1. I don't see a need to carry extra baselayers, extra fleece, and a separate waterproof overtrousers - either wear them or have a waterproof/ windproof pants. And if you go into the mountains in winter, a rescue blanket and possibly a lightweight bivy should always be carried. Boots only if you need to, I'd say, trailrunners are just as fine in my experience.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. Extra layers are useful as you never know how much the temperature will drop and whether you'll need to stop. Yes a rescue blanket is a good idea, as is a bivy, but if you have extra layers, too, then you're fully prepared for all eventualities. Trail runner shoes are fine so long as you have strong ankles and you don't mind having sodden feet all day. But most people would prefer the support of boots and the extra waterproofing. Trailrunners are not suitable for crampons either. I guess, at the end of the day, it's personal preference but for less experienced walkers the blog advice is about right. Good to hear your views though.

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