Walking in winter can be a wonderful experience. Crisp, invigorating air and enticing, frosty landscapes can make for an enjoyable time outdoors, which is why many of you will be opting to go on walking holidays, either in the UK or abroad, over the next few months. Winter walking holidays are a great opportunity to explore some of the world’s most beautiful locations during a stunning time of year. But to enjoy it to the full, you’ll need to be prepared.
Winter weather needs to be respected for you to stay safe and comfortable whilst out walking. Make sure you have all the kit you need to stay warm, dry and secure to ensure your winter walking holiday is a success. When choosing your kit for a winter walking on holiday, start by looking at the equipment which will spend most time in contact with the ground- your footwear.
The boots you’ll need for walking in winter will depend largely on the kinds of terrain you plan on walking on. Generally though, winter walking will require a pair of waterproof boots with a deeper tread than more lightweight summer boots. If you are planning for cold or wet conditions without snow or ice, choose a pair which use a Gore-tex waterproof membrane to prevent leaks if the weather turns rainy. This membrane will also provide an extra layer of insulation to keep your feet warmer. Make sure your boots give sufficient ankle support to reduce the risk of injury on uneven terrain, and opt for a stiffer sole if you expect any scrambling on narrow ledges to take place.
Above: The Scarpa Cristallo GTX boot is perfect for winter walking, with stiff, B1-rated soles and a Gore-tex membrane to keep your feet dry
If you plan on hillwalking in snowy conditions, you’ll need to accompany your boots with a set of crampons. Crampons are essentially a series of metal spikes attached to the bottom of the boot to give purchase when walking on snowy slopes. There are 3 grades of crampon, C1, C2 and C3. Boots which are crampon compatible have a similar grading system, B1, B2 and B3 to show which crampons they can accommodate.
Each grade of crampon has a different use when walking or climbing in snowy or icy conditions.
Above: The Grivel G10 Lux New Classic crampons are C1 rated and are perfect for hillwalking in snowy or icy conditions.
B1 boots are compatible with C1 crampons and are predominantly used when walking on gradually inclining, snow-covered hillsides. Both B1 boots and C1 crampons are the most flexible and deliver the most “normal” walking experience when used.
B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons. This allows you the option to use a stiffer crampon if needed. C2 crampons are ideal for steeper walking or scrambling in snowy and icy conditions.
B3 boots are compatible with C1, C2 and C3 crampons. They can be used for anything from gently sloping walks in the snow using C1 crampons, to vertical ice climbing in C3s. B3 boots offer the most versatility, though the stiffness of their sole and greater weight may make them difficult to get used to walking in.
For a winter walking holiday, a C1 or C2 crampon will suffice. Remember that you’ll need to accompany your crampons with an ice axe to allow for stability on the snow or ice and to help you to slow down if you fall. Choose a walking axe with a long enough handle to easily cut steps in the snow without having to bend down. The blade should be at right angles to the handle and it should have a small shovel on the opposite side for moving loose snow.
Image sourced: Walter Baxtertagsoutdoor activitieswinter walking holiday