When setting out on a Winter hike, you dress warm, you pack warm, and you stay warm. Planning a Summer hike? You plan to wear shorts and a t-shirt, pack light and you're good to go. But what about that Spring hike. The weather can change drastically in just a few hours. It may pour, it may be bright and sunny, it will probably do both. One moment it can be freezing cold, and a few hours later, you're sweating. Not too mention, you may be traversing deep mud one minute and into snow and ice the next. Spring is an entirely different beast. So, what should you pack for a Spring hike?
As the weather warms and snow melts away, trails become accessible again for everyone’s favorite free way to get outside: hiking. For a day hike any time of year, you should be prepared to stay safe in the elements and in the backcountry.But spring hiking also comes with its own specific fun, like muddy trails, surprise rain storms and quick-changing temperatures, so there are a few extra items you should bring along to stay comfortable on your hike and should you get lost or find your way off trail.
The 10 essentials you should always pack for any day hike are:
Navigation: Be it a map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger, always have a way to navigate back to safety should you get off trail. Make sure you know how to read or use it, and if you’re relying on a map downloaded on your phone, make sure you bring an external battery pack.
Headlamp: Regardless of the time of day you’re hiking, pack a headlamp in case you get off-trail and are out after dark. Also, bring extra batteries.
Sun protection: Even in the spring when the sun is coming out of winter hiding, it’s important to protect your skin. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses and sun-protective clothes.
First aid kit: A basic first aid kit can go a long way whether you have blisters on the trail or a more serious injury. Backpacking first aid kits come with all the essentials and won’t take up too much room in your pack.
Knife: You never know when a knife might come in handy on a hike—even something as simple as cutting rope or branches you or your dog gets tangled in—and it takes up very little room in your pack, so it’s smart to bring.
Waterproof matches/lighter/fire starter: In the unlikely event that you get lost on your hike, having a way to start a fire means you have a way to stay warm and potentially signal to others.
Emergency shelter: You never know what’ll happen on a hike—you could get lost and have to spend the night, severe weather systems could move in quickly—but having a packable emergency shelter like a light, emergency bivyor even a space blanket can keep you safe.
Food: Bring more food than you think you’ll need for a day hike. If you get lost, you’ll be thankful.
Water: Rehydrating on a hike is essential. Bring more than you think you’ll need in case you get lost.
Layers: Bring packable layers that you can take off if you get hot or add on if a cold weather system moves in. This includes an insulating layer and a waterproof shell, so you’re ready for any weather that could come at you.
On spring hikes, you should also bring along:
A waterproof day pack: Spring weather is notoriously wet, so having a day pack that will keep the water out means all your preparation in bringing insulated layers, first aid kits, and other items that need to be dry to do their job, won’t go to waste.
Waterproof boots: You’ll likely encounter mud and maybe even sections of lingering snow on your spring hike. A pair of waterproof boots with good traction will help keep your feet dry and stable on the trails.
Gaiters: If you know there’s likely to be snow and/or mud on the trail, wearing waterproof gaiters over waterproof boots can keep moisture out of your pants and socks.
Microspikes or crampons: Even though the snow has melted, some trails can still be icy or snowy in the spring. Microspikes or crampons can help provide traction and prevent slips and falls on icy terrain.
Extra layers, gloves, tuque or head band: Spring temperatures vary drastically throughout the day, bring a little extra clothing to be prepared for drastic temperature drops.
This list might seem like overkill, but if you’ve ever wandered off-trail on a hike and had trouble finding your way back, you know having a few extra emergency items in your pack go a long way. What’s more, in the spring, being prepared for changing weather conditions will simply keep you more comfortable—and set your hiking season off on the right, dry and comfortable foot.
Well, it is officially Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. We all know what that means, more clouds, more rain, more unpredictable weather coming out of nowhere. But despite all that, Spring also means amazing smells, cute little animals, soft rains, forest blooming, and much new life. Spring is an amazing time to be outdoors, but it also brings many challenges. If you haven't already, be sure to read through last week's article; Hit the Trails Early with These Spring Hiking Tips.I have some great news! On March 21st, I was able to secure 4 tent pads at Stormhaven Backcountry Camp Site in Bruce Peninsula Nation Park for Saturday, September 9th, 2023 with a maximum of 3 people per pad. We can place either one 2 or 3 man tent per pad, or 2 one man tents. And it is probably possible to squeeze a two man + a one man tent on the pad if done carefully. I have also contacted Tobermory Village Campgrounds, and will book six tent camp sites with them for two nights. Their tent sites allow for two tents per site and two adults per site. There will be space for 12 hikers on this 4 day trip. The dates will be Friday, September 8th - Monday, September 11th. Once I have the final itinerary and price determined, I will post it on the Events Page. I plan to meet with the Travel Agent this week to finalize details and pricing for October's Yosemite Trip. I am very much looking forward to returning to Yosemite National Park. It has been 5 years since my last visit and it has been calling. The Yosemite Trip will take place on Friday, October 13th - Saturday, October 21st. I plan to open registration for the trip by the beginning of next month, however, the trip is completely dependent on obtaining wilderness permits on Sunday, April 9th. Once permits are obtained, Invoices will be sent out immediately.