My brother Ken had been asking me if I wanted to go hiking for weeks. Homie is a lover of the wilderness, and enjoys doing things like chopping up wood, starting fires, and building igloos (no joke). I was hesitant at first, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up (I’m not the most athletic person you’ll ever meet). He assured me that I’d be fine, and when I agreed to go, the conversation turned to staying comfortable and safe. Ken is super adamant about safety, and considering that Washington is cold and wet, he reminded me (many times), that the potential for hypothermia is always there.
So, that said, here are five things I learned from by brother while preparing for the six-hour hike:
1. Don’t wear cotton. Cotton absorbs water, which against your body in cold temperatures is not good. You need material like polyester or nylon to wick away moisture from your skin.
2. Wool socks are your friend.
3. Dress with a base layer, mid layer, and outer layer (I wore a base layer like this and a mid layer like this). For our hike, we were anticipating a potential mix of rain and snow, so I was worried about being too cold. Turns out that when you’re walking, you warm up really fast, and the body heat that you generate gets trapped in the layers which keeps you warm. If you don’t have a water resistant third layer, consider getting one, but otherwise I had a poncho for backup. Luckily it didn’t rain or snow!
4. Pack an extra set of dry base layer clothes in a plastic ziplock bag. If you and your backpack happen to get wet, you’ll have these to wear and keep warm.
5. Cover your ears! This is actually something I figured out when running outdoors. You lose a lot of heat through your head, and covering your ears helps keep you warm up top.
Hanging out, warm and comfortable, by the fire on our hike. Yes, I took my Starbucks reusable cup into the wilderness.
Of course, as with anything regarding your safety, make sure that you do your research well before venturing out into the wilderness. But those are just some things that I didn’t know and wanted to share. I hope they’re helpful!
Do you go hiking? Any tips for beginners?