What to Wear for Hiking in Cold Weather

Hiking in the winter gives you a precious opportunity to marvel at the most spectacular snow-covered sights. However, we all know that it comes with its own set of dangers.

Presuming that you are already well aware of the precautions that you have to take and practical tips of the trade – namely now to use the equipment and how to set up camp under freezing conditions, it’d also be smart to take extra time to prepare your wardrobe for the undertaking. With that in mind, here’s what to wear for hiking in cold weather.

The golden range of layers

Let’s get one item out of the way first – you’ll need a cap, of course, possibly the one with ear flaps. You’ll want to protect your head, ears and the back of your neck as much as possible. You lose about 10% of your overall body heat through the head if it isn’t properly protected, and that goes even if you have a head-full of hair.

With that out of the way, you need to consider covering your abdomen with a set of layers. Chest and stomach area are especially important. The trick is to hit the exact golden range of layers that befits your needs without limiting your movement and, more importantly, causing profuse sweating. In any severely cold environment, sweating can be dangerous.

The best layering goes as follows – a nice, wick shirt, an airy material that is easy on the skin, then something thicker, equally airy – a thick wool sweater, for example, and a wind-proof jacket on top.  

The matter of feet

Along with the top of the head and mid-torso, feet are the most sensitive are you should be worried about in the freezing conditions. We rarely look at uncomfortable shoes as a health danger, but they can easily cause chronic problems which become hard to get rid of.

It can promote the creation of bunions, cause painful calluses and joint pain, and that’s without mentioning ickier stuff such as ingrown toenails and athlete’s foot. What you need is a pair of comfortable and flexible water-proof shoes and airy, wool socks that will keep your feet warm. The rest is up to the circulation as you wind up and keep marching uphill.

Easy access

You’ll need to secure easy access to the following items: a waterproof coat, a vest, and the above-mentioned jacket. The best strategy is to fold them outside the pack, harness them on the side of your rucksack or otherwise make them easily accessible – that’s because you’ll shuffle between them during your hike.

Let’s assume that, since you are cutting through the freezing wilderness, that you will change elevation quite a few times during your trip. This means that the temperature will change, as well as your subjective impression and sweating intensity.  

Things to avoid

As you are shuffling through your wardrobe, choosing the candidates for your winter clothing, there are several elements that you should eliminate from the onset, which will make matters somewhat easier and efficient.

First of all, you need to ignore cotton. While this ubiquitous material has been a faithful companion of humans since times immemorial, it has also always been notorious for taking a very long time to dry. As has been implied, this will lead you to feel chilly and, let’s be honest, completely miserable. Synthetics tend to dry faster and, as it has been mentioned as well, wool is your best candidate across the board!

Second, since we have mentioned synthetics, it wouldn’t go amiss to point out that tight clothing is also a bad choice. You’ll want to feel as you can move freely, and, indeed, some of the most elastic synthetic materials are also tight, but such quality is not what you are looking for from cold-weather clothes.

Why? It is a rather simple matter of biomechanics – tight materials cut-off circulation, which increases your chance of getting frostbite. Clothing and gear have to fit properly, for sure, but they also need to give you room to breathe. This might sound counterintuitive, all things considered, but this is what all the experts advise as well.

Conclusion

Humans are not only social and intellectual beings – there is a side to us that we often explore by embarking on adventures that have at least a modicum of peril. We rediscover ourselves by plunging head-first into the wilderness and surviving under harsh conditions. After all, we’ve thrived from such conditions and created civilization in the first place.

Hiking in freezing weather is just one example of how humans quench their thirst for adventure, and the assortment of tips above should give you, at the very least, a good broad idea of how you should prepare in terms of wardrobe. Only then will you be ready to conquer your next frontier.

Seakayaking in Hjørundfjorden, Norway

Kayaking essentials: 5 quick tips to get you started!

Always wanted to go kayaking for the first time? Below you can find some essential tips every beginner should know before heading out and paddle the world!

For starters we would like to say that kayaking is something everybody can do. Whether it is as a sport, means of transportation, or creative way to explore new travel destinations! It is very easy to learn, instant happiness is assured while getting the hang of it, and before you know it you’ll be hooked.

Before you’re able to wander around on the biggest adventures while kayaking, there are a few things we think can help you achieve this goal, our kayaking essentials :

a) Start off in group

Whether it is by taking a lesson, joining a full course, or going on a tour with a certified guide, all of the above are good ways to start of your first adventure. Unless you want to spend your first trip zig-zagging around doing three times the distance than the others are doing, it might be useful to learn from experienced people how to. It’ll enable you to enjoy it a lot quicker and go a lot further. After all, when in group, what’s more fun than seeing some of your friends getting splashed in their kayak?

b) Dress to impress

This time not the girls/boys but the water. Depending on which time and location throughout the year you want to go kayaking the water temperature might differ a lot from the actual outdoor temperature. Making sure you are wearing suitable clothes for the environment you find yourself in is key! It’ll make it all the more enjoyable wearing the right clothes to keep you going on your adventure. Bringing a change of clothes with you on your trip is never a bad idea either. Always expect the unexpected (;

c) Kayak equipment

Continuing on the clothes, there is some specific kayak equipment that is crucial to have. When joining a guided trip or course all of those things should be provided; if not, these are the things you should definitely have with you: a kayak, paddle, buoyancy aid (life jacket), and a spray deck for sit-in kayaks. Sit-on kayaks don’t need a spray deck seen that they have no compartments water can get in.

d) Kayak technique

As is the case with almost every physical activity, there is a certain technique that goes along with it. Not to make it too complicated to start with, we’ll give you 3 things to remember:

  • Hold the paddle with both hands with shoulder distance apart while keeping the concave part of the blade facing towards you
  • Sit upright in your kayak. Even though it has that nice and comfy back-rest, it is not really made for your lay-in-the-couch position.
  • Use your upper body. Numerous people make the mistake of only using their arms to pull the blades towards them resulting in early fatigue and sore arms the upcoming days. By using your torso to help you get your paddle strokes steady and strong, you’ll also be able to keep it up for much longer and much less of the after-soreness.

e) Safety

Last but definitely not least: always keep safety in mind! Even though kayaking is accessible to each and every one of you out there, it is still very important to always keep in the back of your head that you are doing activities on water. Especially when kayaking on open water there are 3 things to check before heading out: tides, wind, and the overall weather forecast. Besides that number one priority is knowing how to rescue yourself and others in case you do tumble over. The chances of this happening on calm and flat water are almost nil but better be safe than sorry, right?

When you can check off all of the above, there’s just one thing left to do: head out and enjoy!

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Group hiking to Storhornet on Godøya

Your safety on the trails

Unfortunately a lot of people forget their first aid kit when heading out to the trails. Safety should always be a main focus. But what do you need in your first aid kit?

Well, let us start by establish that the ideal first aid kit is very individual and dependent entirely on what you will need it for.

Before attempting to purchase a first aid kit, it is a good idea to consider:

• What do you need it for? Is it for short or long hikes, foreign stays or adventures far away from civilization?

•What is your limit about the weigh and volume? Are you going to drag it your entire trip on a 5 day hiking adventure or maybe you will only need it for a few hours in the wild?

• How far is there to any medical attention? Does it require to throw yourself in a 6 hour drive to get to the nearest hospital or is it just nearby?

If you are going to hike for several days in a more sparsely populated area, where you can not just get in touch with other people, it requires a lot of your first aid kit.

First and foremost, multiple wax patches, cleansing wipes and painkillers (or other pain relievers) against back, neck and shoulder pain. Antihistamine against hypersensitivity reactions such as hay fever or hives is also recommended. You must also have different bandages and dressings for the slightly larger (nerve) wounds and lesions plus suture strips bandages for smaller cuts.

The following list is our suggestions for things to carry with you in your first aid kit:

  • Band-aids
  • Blister patches
  • Wipes
  • Alcogel
  • Painkillers
  • Antihistamine
  • Bandages and dressings
  • Suture strips bandages
  • Elastic ribbon
  • Safety pins
  • Scissor
  • Cream against insect bites and sticks
  • Tweezer
  • Tick remover
  • Saline Drops
  • Sunscreen
  • Burns ointment

It is a very good idea to pack your first aid kit in a waterproof bag (dry bag) and in addition to the list, we will recommend to bring an emergency blanket, a lighter and a small emergency stove.

A first aid kit is like an insurance; you never hope you will actually need it. Nevertheless it is one, if not the most, important part of your gear, so remember to check it thoroughly before you start any hike and fill it up if needed.

Remember that hiking, biking, skiing, whatever drives you, is all about enjoying yourself in nature – but if you are in pain or gets sick, it is not that much fun.

Our guides are always thinking about safety and will also carry a suited first aid kit – so as long as you are on one of our many guided trips, you do not need to worry about safety.

Check out our selection of guided trips at this link: http://uteguiden.com/en/services/guiding/

E-bike in Ålesund

What is e-bikes and what to know about them?

In our adventure center in Ålesund we got a big selection of bikes including e-bikes, but what do you need to know about e-bikes before heading out on the Norwegian roads and trails?

Some people think that you do not have to step in the pedals when riding an e-bike. You do need to though. It is just like a regular bike but the difference is, that there is an electric motor and instead of only regular gears, there is also electric gears hence the name e-bike, since it can be faster I see it in the same way I see a motorcycle; in fact, i always make sure to use helmet when riding it.

The Cannondale Trail Neo is our most popular e-bike and is equipped with 29 inch wheels, RockShox 30S 100mm Travel fork, Tektro Auriga Hydro Disc brakes, 10 regular gears (Shimano Deore) and a display on the handlebar, so you can always check your speed, duration and distance of your trip.

The three electronic gears, “eco”, “trail” and “boost”, kicks in at different rates and the life of the battery depends on which gear you will be using. If you are biking in “eco” you can go up to 97 km (60 miles), “trail” up to 72

What makes the Trail Neo so special is the powerful 250W motor and the 500Wh battery. This ensures long range and steep streets or forest paths will feel like a game. The e-bike is a good mix between comfort and technical characteristics. Together with Shimano’s new e8000 terrain-specific engine, you will get an e-bike that comes across the majority of places you take it. In other words, it is a perfect e-bike for those who wants to ride both asphalt and in the woods.

Try out the Cannondale Trail Neo e-bike for yourself on our guided Art Nouveau trip or enjoy the combination of biking and hiking on our guided trip to the mountain “Sukkertoppen” (sugar loaf mountain) from downtown Ålesund.

Read more about our biking trips!

Group hiking to Storhornet on Godøya

The basics to bring for a day of hiking

There is a lot of things you can bring with you on a full day of hiking, but as a famous bear used to say: “Look for the bare necessities”. A good way to think about it, is if you are thinking “what do I need to bring” and not what could be nice to bring. The hike will probably be nice in itself, but the lighter your backpack is and with the right equipment, it will probably be even more nice. Let us cover the basics.

Clothing

First of all you will need the proper clothing. You should always look at the weather forecast before you begin your hike and make sure to dress for the conditions. It is essential to pack some extra clothes (socks, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a wind- or waterproof jacket) just in case the weather changes for the worse. You should consider packing your extra clothes in a waterproof bag (dry bag). The “3-layer principle” can be a very nice guideline if you are in doubt of what to wear. You can read about it on our blog in the post “what to wear when you’re kayaking”.

Shoes

Shoes and boots are very important items. A hiking boot with a high shaft supports your ankle better than shoes, but you should determine what to wear based on the terrain. It is very personal if you prefer lighter shoes over more heavy hiking boots, but hiking boots will be a good idea if the terrain is very uneven and if you got a backpack which weights over 5 kg. The sole of a hiking boot is often made from hard rubber, which is quite durable compared to a soft rubber sole on most shoes. If you hike in shoes or boots with a soft sole, you might get to experience some soreness in places that you are not used to. This is caused by the flexibility a soft sole got compared to a hard sole, where most experience that they can not really move their feet.

Gear

Of course you need a backpack to have all your clothing, gear, food and water in. The size of the bag really depends on how long you are going to hike, but a 15-25 liter backpack should be fine. The most important thing about a backpack is, that it should fit you comfortably, even if it is fully packed. You should have tried the backpack before you begin your hike, so you know how it feels and how to adjust it while you are on the trail. A hip belt on a smaller backpack (also called a daypack) does not necessarily includes a strong hip belt. A strong hip belt is typically more important if you carry a lot of weight in the bag. It is an advantage if the backpack’s rear panel is not too rigid as it can limit the freedom of movement and flexibility that is needed.
The main purpose of the backpack is, that is fits you well and follows your movement.

Other important stuff

Safety is always very important, so it is a very good idea to bring a first aid kit or at least some bandages and some blister patches.

Navigation (a map or a GPS) is usually very important, but it is not essential for you to bring during one of our guided tours (our guides will take care of that).

Trekking poles can also come in handy. Correct use of trekking poles relieves both the back, knees and hips and reduces the load by about 9 kilo per steps.

If it is sunny, a cap, sunglasses and sun lotion is also good to bring.

Food

It is no surprise that food and snacks is crucial to bring on any hike. Do not bring half the size of your fridge, but bring extra snacks (if you do not eat all of it, you can always bring it back home or give it to someone on the trail, that really needs it).

A mix of different nuts and dark chocolate is a hit and for a good reason. Just 30 grams (one ounce) of pecan nuts contains almost 200 calories and the same amount of 70-80% chocolate contains roughly 170 calories. If you are looking for some “fast food snacks” sneaker bars are a good choice.

Last but not least: Bring a lot of water! Depending on the length and intensity of the hike, your age, sweat rate and weather conditions, it is usually a good idea to bring 2 liters of water per person in either water bottles or a water reservoir. The water is safe to drink in a lot of places in the Norwegian mountains, just look out for running water and not still water like a puddle.

We offer a lot of different hiking tours in the breathtaking areas of Sunnmøre and Romsdalen. Book your next tour here

What to wear when you’re kayaking?

What to wear when you’re kayaking?

That is a question we often get from our clients. We asked our Danish guide, Benji, what to wear and this is what he says: Remember that everyone is different and wherefore each person got special needs. It really depends on the weather condition (rain and wind) but the “3-layer principle” are some good guidelines:

The inner layer must keep the person dry and make sure to transport moisture and sweat away from the body. It could be a thin woolen underwear (wool will still keep you warm if it gets wet) or a sports shirt from Nike or so. Cotton is generally a bad idea as it sucks water quite well. When you are kayaking, you will get wet (it is just a question about how much), so cotton can not be recommended. Cotton also dries slowly and does not heat very well when wet.

The second layer is primarily about isolating and keeping the heat of the body. Here you can also use wool or perhaps a fleece.


The third and last layer can often be avoided if there is no prospect of rain or strong winds.
It is about keeping the water and wind away from the body. By wearing a wind- or waterproof jacket, you will keep the heated air close to the body. Often rain jackets have a barely breathable membrane, so it can be difficult for sweat to get away from the body and therefore condensation may occur and you may feel a little damp.

A woolen hat and gloves are not considered necessary when it is +7 degrees (44 fahrenheit) or if it does not rain. If it is sunny, a cap and especially sunglasses can be a good idea.

Here you see Benji kayaking on a sunny day in Ålesund with about 7 m/s (15,5 mph) wind, wearing a long merino wool shirt, a cap, sunglasses and of cause a life vest.

Kayaking Ålesund

Valg av riktig skredutstyr

What to bring in your ski touring backpack

The interest for ski touring have grown rapidly the last couple of years and we´re stoked to see so much people coming over to us in Norway. To get the best experiences it´s important to be well prepared and equiped. Here on the Norwegian westcoast the weather often changes rapidly and one second with blue skies can soon be a adventurous trip in whiteout.

Our owner & guide Oscar Almgren have put down a list of what he like to bring in his ski touring backpack for the winter.

    • Warm jacket – I prefer a primaloft jacket just because of the changing weather because primaloft stands water better then down.
    • Extra gloves – I always bring at least 1 extra pair of gloves, the temperature always shifts on a ski tour and it´s easy to loose a glove on the mountain which will give you big consequences.
    • Extra hat – a warm hat for the downhill is always good to have
    • Neck gaither – great to cover the neck, use just as a cool looking headwear – looking good is everything huh?
    • Googles – If you get a proper snowstorm out on the mountain this is the only thing that will save your eyes
    • Bivybag – Suddenly a lunchbreak in snowstorm got cozy – if you haven´t tried it, do it!
    • First aid kit – what to put in here is a bit up to yourself and your askings, where you´re going, if it´s a day trip etc.
    • Multitool – i always bring a multitool and some extra stuff to fix a broken skiboot and other stuff out on the mountain
    • Map & compass – but remember that you need to know how to use it to 😉
    • GPS – This is a perfect assistent if the bad weather hit you and you need to get back down.
    • Satelite phone – some people would say it´s a bit of a overkill but around here a lot of the locations are without cellphone reception.

Avalanche equipment
This is not where you´re supposed to save money, buy avalanche equipment with good quality. Also remember to take good care of your beacon, have you dropped it on the ground once it´s not unlikely that one of the antennas is broken.

  • Digital transceiver (Attached to your body, not in your backpack)
  • Shovel – One in metall and preferable with telescope shaft. The old plastic ones that occurs on our courses every now and then tend to brake if the snow is hard (which it will be in an avalanche).
  • Probe – Buy one that´s at least 240 cm long. If you choose one in carbon or aluminium is less important.
  • Avalanche backpack – this is a good investment but far from mandatory. One of our avalanche courses will prepare you better to stay alive in avalanche terrain then this backpack.

Talking about what to get in your backpack for ski touring, it is important that we know which backpack would best suit our needs.

Check out some of the trips we´re offering here: Fjord Ski Sunnnmøre, Ski touring week Stranda, Ski touring Sunnmøre alps

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