by Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones
As the night’s draw in and the temperatures plummet, adventures in the mountains transform through autumn’s glorious colours to winter’s snowy dustings. With the inevitable thrill of a wintery mountain landscape comes the need for a few specialist bits of kit to keep you safe, warm and happy in the cold. Here are 5 bits of kit we think you should consider for a wonderful winter.
1. Quality Socks
You can’t beat happy feet. Most of our mountainous adventures are spent on our feet so it’s essential to keep them warm, dry and comfortable. Two winter specifics to consider are:
Cushioning – With winter often comes a stiffer walking or mountaineering boot (generally rated for crampons). So, with a firmer boot platform, it’s a great idea to pick a sock packing plenty of underfoot cushioning – this should keep your soles comfortable on long days in the hills.
Moisture wicking – Hot and sweaty feet produce moisture, which can soak your socks in no time. This moisture will pull tonnes of heat away from your feet, especially if you stop for a break, so it’s crucial that your socks can wick this moisture away and stop it from leaving you with wet, freezing feet.
Our recommendation is the Darn Tough Hiker Boot Sock Full Cushion or the Darn Tough Women’s Hiker Boot Cushion. Both feature full cushioning and, being made from premium Merino wool, will keep your feet toasty whilst wicking away any sweat or moisture.
2. Head Torch
Earlier nights mean more after-dark excursions and a greater chance of being caught in the fading light. Whether it’s an after-work run in the dark or a hike that drags on into the night, a suitable head torch is a must. See our in-depth buying guide for more head torch information.
Our recommendation is the Petzl Swift RL. A perfect option for lighting the trails whilst proving packable enough to be your backpack backup.
3. Crampons or Spikes
Ice, snow and mud are synonymous with winter conditions so having the right footwear accessories to navigate this slippery terrain is fundamental. In extreme mountain environments, fully rated crampons will be necessary but for most UK based hill walking, a set of strap-on spikes or mini crampons will be more than sufficient.
Our recommendation is the Kahtoola KTS Crampon Steel. Incredible grip in a packable, versatile package.
4. Confidence Rope
Exposed ridgelines and snowy scrambles can be the greatest experiences winter has to offer but navigating this for the first time can be a bit daunting. Confidence ropes are a fantastic option for those new to the winter game as well as more experienced adventurers who want that extra security in unpredictable mountain conditions.
Our recommendation is the Beal Rando Walking Rope (Golden Dry) 8mm x 20m. A streamlined offering with the essential dry treatment for wet, winter conditions.
5. Walking Poles
Keeping a decent rhythm whilst traversing winter’s tricky terrain plays a significant role in staying warm and ticking off those winter peaks. In changing conditions on challenging terrain, the right pair of walking poles can make all the difference.
Our recommendation is the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ. A solid, versatile, four season workhorse that’ll keep you moving in the right direction.