Different ways to hike during winter

Does hiking rhyme with summer for you? Keep reading and you'll discover that hiking is compatible with winter. You will even discover new ways to hike and new sports!

How do you go hiking all through winter?

1/ Hiking with snowshoes

To be attached to your hiking boots, snowshoes make walking on snow and especially in powder easier. By increasing the area of your feet in contact with the snow, it allows you to sink less into the snow while giving the necessary boost to move forward. Most snowshoes are also equipped with crampon spikes at the front of the foot to move forward on slopes and on frozen snow.

Big advantage of snowshoeing, it is adaptable to all tastes and all physical forms on condition that you prepare your route well! Many ski resorts offer snowshoeing routes, so give it a go.

What should you wear to avoid getting cold when hiking? in the mountains, or elsewhere


The golden rule: stay dry so you can enjoy comfortable, safe hiking! To avoid getting cold or risking hypothermia, try to eliminate sweat and protect yourself from all kinds of weather. As with nearly all winter sports, the rule of three layers is key here both for the top part of your body and the bottom. To ensure warmth and breathability, first of all you need to wear a warm, breathable foundation layer next to the skin, a second insulating layer in fleece or down and a third hooded, wind-cheater type layer, essential for protecting you from bad weather, rain and wind.

Remember to take a few additional layers just in case, as well as a survival blanket in case something goes wrong. The important thing is not to feel too constricted in your clothing; you need to feel comfortable and have a certain freedom of movement to fully enjoy the experience for the full duration of the hike.

To complete your hiking outfit, you should also wear a hat and possibly a scarf, a buff or neck-warmer and make sure you secure your clothing properly using draw cords. Gaiters are an effective accessory in deep snow. Finally, if you tend to sweat easily, take a small microfibre towel so you can dry yourself quickly.

What equipment do you need to enjoy a hassle-free hike?

For a worry-free hiking expedition, you need some very special equipment. First of all, get yourself an ergonomic hiking backpack which will allow you to transport all your equipment without breaking your back. And don't forget to pack a topographic map, compass and even a GPS.

In addition, when choosing your winter, hiking itinerary, check how long the walk is. As you know, the days in winter are much shorter. Your hikes should finish around 4pm so you don't end up hiking in the dark. And if you want to play it safe, a head torch

is an essential accessory.To warm you up, remember to take a few hand and foot warmers to slip into your gloves, socks or pockets. As a precautionary measure, you should pack a traditional first aid kit at the bottom of your bag: a survival blanket, sun cream with appropriate UV protection, a water bottle or warm thermos flask to keep you hydrated, snacks such as dried fruit as well as spare clothing including a pair of gloves, socks and other spare items, just in case. And, of course, a first aid kit.

And remember to charge your phone and GPS, take a portable battery if necessary and keep this equipment nice and warm inside your jacket to prevent thermal shock.
If you want to explore more technical paths, bear in mind that hiking in snow often requires safety equipment (ARVA avalanche transceiver, probe and sensor) although the most important thing is knowing how to use it.

Finally, when snow freezes, poles can be extremely useful.

How do you go hiking all through winter?

5 Expert tips romuald, hiking salesperson and product trainer at the decathlon mountain store, passy

⊛ Advice N°1 : choose a breathable outfit, combining versatile, easily adjustable products and prioritizing lightweight, technical components.

⊛ Advice N°2 : choose boots that are warm and waterproof. You won't be disappointed by Quechua's SnowContact model which provides perfect grip for walking in the snow.

⊛ Advice N°3 : remember to take your "survival kit" - as mentioned above - It's important to stay well hydrated during exercise. Don't forget your insulated bottle which will keep your drink warm or cold; it's much more eco-friendly than a bottle of water !

 ⊛ Advice N°4 : choose a hiking route that matches your level and stamina; don't take risks and aim for gradual progress. Hiking in winter is more physical that in the summer; snow presents an additional challenge.

 ⊛ Advice N°5 :  opt for a morning hike, particularly in winter. In the morning, you can enjoy clear views and with a little luck the sun will come out and warm you up. Which will give you a chance to enjoy a nice picnic lunch. And we have just what you need to keep your food warm!

What type of hiking should you choose?

Hiking is a broad term that covers a range of walking activities. The first - trekking - is the most traditional... Here is a brief overview of other activities you can try.

2/ Trekking and bivouacking

If you want to try something out-of-the-ordinary, bivouacking is a thrilling and exciting experience. However, bivouacking in winter should not be undertaken lightly. We recommend that you only embark upon this kind of adventure if you've already tried bivouacking in the summer, for example. Whether there's snow or not, you need to choose your pitch carefully, ensure you have an insulated sleeping bag and mat, as well as proper "camping" equipment. Winter refuges are a good alternative to bivouacking but check in advance if they're open and pack as if you're going bivouacking as they can be very cold.

How do you go hiking all through winter?

3/ Ski touring

If you want to combine the delights of walking with the fun of sliding, ski touring is perfect for you. However, this type of hiking requires training and proper preparation. To really get the most room this experience, we recommend that you're accompanied by a guide. Remember to attach your skis to your backpack for the more complicated sections. This will save you from having to take ski lifts or tackle virgin trails so you can enjoy fantastic descents through powder snow.
It's worth noting that some resorts offer secure, marked beginner trails, next to the slopes. Enquire at the tourist information offices in the resorts where you're staying and, most importantly, make sure you get kitted out with suitable ski touring equipment.

cross-country skiing

4/ Cross-country skiing, an alternative way of going for a walk

Do you want to hike and slide? With cross-country skiing - an increasingly popular and widespread activity - you can do just that. This activity consists of 3 different disciplines: Classic cross-country skiing (also called Alternative) where you glide along specially designed tracks admiring the landscape. Skating which is a more fun, intense activity and thrilling experience. Finally, Nordic skiing , or "Nordic cruising," which enables you to get off the groomed slopes and enjoy the vast expanses of virgin snow.
Obviously, you will need to adapt your outfit to match the discipline you choose. Make sure you find out about the cross-country ski resorts in the area you're staying and remember to warm up properly before tackling the snow-covered plains.


5/ Cani-hiking

Finally, if you enjoy walking and have a passion for dogs, you can try cani-hiking. The idea? You are pulled by a dog using a harness and leash. It's more athletic than it looks and is a chance to share a unique bonding experience with your canine partner. Cani-hiking, which is the perfect blend of dog sledding and traditional hiking, is sure to delight both children and adults alike. This unique activity is a chance to enjoy new sensations while experiencing the delights of the mountain in winter.


2/ Cani-hiking

Do you like to walk and are you also a dog lover? Cani-hiking is just for you! More than a simple walk, you are towed by a dog using a harness and a lanyard.  More sporty than it sounds, it is also a great moment of complicity with your dogs! Perfect compromise between the sled dog and classic hikes, cani-hiking will attract all age groups. This activity allows you to discover new sensations while taking full advantage of the joys of snow.

How do you go hiking all through winter?

3/ Ski touring

Combine the pleasures of hiking with the pleasures of skiing? Ski touring is there for that! Be careful, however, it requires good preparation and it is recommended to only do it accompanied by a guide. On the way up, you progress thanks to the skins fixed under your skis which stop you slipping backwards. You can also attach your skis to your backpack for steeper slopes.

You therefore avoid taking the ski lifts and access virgin trails, which promises a beautiful descent in powder! To get started, some resorts offer secure and marked routes along the slopes, check with the Tourist Offices and equip yourself with suitable ski touring equipment.

cross-country skiing

4/ Cross-country skiing

Do you want to hike while sliding? It's possible.Cross-country skiing is there for you. Cross-country skiing is composed of 3 disciplines:Classic cross-country skiing (also called alternative) where you just have to follow the tracks provided for this purpose and let yourself slide! Skating which is more intense but also more fun. You imitate the skater movement to slide forward and can descend gently on small slopes.

And finally nordic ski hiking (or "nordic cruising") which will allow you to get off the groomed tracks and enjoy the vast expanses of virgin snow. An outfit adapted to your sport is of course recommended. Do not hesitate to inquire about cross-country ski resorts around your home, including at low altitude, and remember to warm up well.

Before setting off on the snow-covered expanses, you will need to choose the right equipment for hiking comfortably and safely.

You will need at least waterproof and non-slip boots, gloves, a waterproof jacket and hiking pants as well as warm headgear of course. As a reminder, 30% of body heat escapes through the head! Also remember to dress according to the principle of the 3-layer system.

You're ready to hit the tracks this winter! First of all, know that there are many groomed routes that allow you to follow the usual routes, with hiking boots adapted to the snow.

How do you go hiking all through winter?



Marie, a fan of snow-covered, mountain landscapes. I'm a tobogganing enthusiast and enjoy long walks in the forest; but what I really love about winter are cheese-based dishes and outdoor spas with a view of Mont Blanc. :-) 

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