Over the weekend, we had the first snowfall of the year. With family visiting, we had thought a hike in one of the Simcoe County forest tracts would be nice. However, none of us had anticipated the snow, so without proper footwear for visiting family members, I was worried that cold, wet feet would make for an unpleasant experience. Better to just walk around the neighbourhood, I said. Fortunately, Sue suggested otherwise, and others agreed – a hike with the dogs in a forest tract far outweighs walking around city streets…even if their feet would be wet and cold afterwards.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. With many waterproof hiking and trail running shoe options now, exploring your favourite trails by hiking – even running – doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort or even performance. However, there are a few adaptations to consider if you want to keep running/hiking on those trails this winter.
Starting with the feet, consider investing in insulated waterproof trail runners with good traction. Some people opt for traction devices that you attach to your shoes (we really like Stabilicers), especially when you’re dealing with ice. Others prefer a specific snow and ice shoe like the Salomon Speedspike that has carbide tips embedded into the shoe for that extra traction without feeling like you have something additional on your shoes. Another fun way of exploring those trails quickly is to invest in running snowshoes – lightweight and small, you can actually run in these. But be prepared – your cadence and stride will be altered, so start off with shorter runs to get used to the snowshoes.
Next is the socks. A hugely underrated piece of the gear in my opinion, having several pairs of good winter running socks is a must. For me, nothing beats a merino wool blend that is not too bulky, insulates and wicks moisture away. We’re big fans of the variety of the BHOT compression socks from Canadian company EC3D.
As for clothing, we think everyone should have a winter running ‘capsule wardrobe’. There’s lots more to say about this (in a future post), but a couple of things to keep in mind: Think in layers – nice and light like phyllo pastry and as few as possible. Although possibly counter-intuitive, dress so that you start off cool, otherwise you’ll be roasting within 15 minutes.
Hydration is important in winter, too. Especially if you’re going to be out for an extended period of time. Preventing your water (and hose and valve if you’re using a water reservoir) from freezing can be a challenge (another future post), but finding a solution is worth the effort. And while you’re at it, if you’re going to be out for awhile, don’t forget to bring along some food (and keep it close enough to your body that when you finally bite into it, you don’t chip a tooth!).
I tend to think Mother Nature takes some extra care painting her winter landscapes. And those trails that you know so well can look and feel excitingly different in the winter, so there’s no reason not to enjoy them just because of a bit of snow. On the contrary, a little snow is a great excuse to get out and play. And an added bonus: snow flies bite less than black flies.