Winter is a more difficult time for most sports, as not all sports are year-round. However, hiking is one such sport, which can be practiced in both summer and winter. Of course, the question is how cold is too cold to hike, and is it healthy for us? There are lovers of lower temperatures, from mountain climbing to walruses, but how about winter hiking?
So how cold is too cold for a hike? Everyone has their own cold tolerance, for some -15 degrees is a hard frost, for others it is nothing. The most important thing during winter hiking is to be physically and mentally prepared and to take the right equipment.
How to prepare for hiking in cold?
Depending on which region you come from, you may have a different tolerance to the cold; someone from a warmer region may have a different tolerance to the cold than someone from, say, Europe. Hiking requires the right equipment and clothing depending on the season, but even in winter, there is no shortage of hiking fans. How cold it is too cold to hike can depend on our personal preferences or our body’s capabilities.
Our immunity, good health, but also a strong character, which helps in moments of doubt in difficult conditions, is not without significance here. Of course, wanting is not always being able, and people who go hiking in really low temperatures should be physically and mentally prepared. The cold can be very dangerous for us, and the more serious effects of hypothermia include:
- Upper respiratory tract infections (cold, rhinitis, flu, etc.).
- General weakness of the body.
- Loss of heat and shivering.
- Frostbite of the extremities (usually arms, legs, nose, or ears).
- Hypothermia, i.e. general hypothermia manifested by a drop in body temperature below 35 °C.
Of course, some effects of prolonged colds, such as hypothermia or frostbite, are very serious for our health and life. However, short-term exposure to low temperatures for people with low immunity can manifest as a cold or flu. Everyone has a different tolerance to cold or bad weather, and how cold is too cold to hike is often a very individual matter.
How to prepare for a winter hiking?
Winter conditions are much more demanding than in other seasons. Low temperatures and snow and ice carried by strong winds can quickly cool down the body. Winter weather can be very changeable, especially in the mountains – it can change from a sunny snowy landscape to a windy and dangerous blizzard in a matter of moments. That is why it is worth preparing for every situation and packing such things as:
- Thermo-active underwear, is lightweight keeps us warm, and protects us from cooling.
- A fleece, blouse, or jumper, another layer to protect against heat loss.
- A warm and windproof jacket or membrane jacket, ideal for protection against strong winds.
- Scarf, hat, gloves, and warm boots. These accessories should also be waterproof to protect you from snow and ice.
- Trekking poles to stabilize our balance and help us move over difficult and uneven terrain.
- Food and drink, preferably something nutritious and providing energy. Many products are specially formulated for hiking.
Whether you are hiking for a few hours or a few days, you need to remember about equipment and clothing. If you’re going to spend the night outdoors, a tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag are also important, so think carefully about what else you might need for your hike. Whether it’s too cold to hike can depend on how you prepare for the route and what equipment you take.
What positive effects does cold have?
Prolonged exposure to cold can have a very bad effect on our health, but cold also has many positive effects. Many people enjoy winter hiking for a variety of reasons, whether it’s for the beautiful winter views, an unusual challenge or to toughen up their bodies. Cold in moderation and over time has many positive effects on our health, these include:
- Cold increases the efficiency of the body, a lower temperature means less heat excretion and therefore less overall fatigue. At high temperatures our body has to cool down rapidly and produces more sweat, then we feel general fatigue.
- Improves the quality of sleep, a lower bedroom temperature makes it easier to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep, whereas higher temperatures can interfere with REM, the sleep phase, which is attributed to, among others, regenerative functions.
- Cold makes it easier to burn calories, it has been scientifically proven that lower temperatures require our body to constantly warm up and produce heat. During this process, we burn calories, even if we do not exert ourselves intensively.
- Cold strengthens the immune system, there is a reason why many people go was rushing in winter, toughening up our body is an ideal way to avoid diseases and have a high immunity.
- Cold helps detoxification, that is cleansing of the body, with frequent use of cold baths increases the level of glutathione, which destroys free radicals. So cold motivates our body to act and fight against harmful substances or free radicals.
As we can see, cold in moderation even has a healing effect and improves our immunity. During winter hiking we harden our body, however, this is a process that takes some time and whether the cold is too cold to hike depends on our health and preferences.
However, the cold is also a lot of positives for our body, which is why hiking in the colder season is recommended for a healthy lifestyle. If, on the other hand, it is not too cold for you to hike, you can also try night hiking, but for that, we have created an article “Why Do People Insist On Night Hiking? (Is It Safe?)“.
In Summary – How Cold Is Too Cold to Hike?
We already know what effect the cold has on us and how cold is too cold to hike depending on the individual. For some people, -10 °C is a pleasant frost, while for others it is an unbearable temperature. The cold has many positive effects on our health, but it must be used in moderation.
Short-term exposure to cold or frost is not immediately negative, but it is not easy at first when trying to toughen up and improve immunity. When the body is severely chilled, we can react with cold, hypothermia, and even hypothermia. The basis of winter hiking is therefore the proper preparation of our organism and the appropriate equipment.
Cold can be one of the problems of every hiker but what are the other problems of hikers? If you want to find out then you need to check out our new article “Should I Let My Girlfriend Hike With Another Guy?“.