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Tips For Hiking In High Wind | How To Plan And Prepare?

Hiking In High Wind

Hiking is the most popular outdoor adventure in the world. One of the best things about hiking is the panoramic view you get to see at the end of the trail. To enjoy this view, hikers often have to face the forces of nature. The weather conditions in mountain areas can be very unpredictable, and they can turn sour from sweet in an instant.

However, if you understand wind speed and come prepared, the wind will not significantly affect your hiking experience. Taking the initiative on your first hike on a windy day may seem like a fearsome task. That’s why this quick guide, along with some useful tips, will help you to get prepared for hiking in the high wind.

High Wind Impacts On Hikers

Walking in the heavy wind for a couple of hours can suck up all of your energy and confidence. Also, there is no guarantee that you will not face heavy winds even if you start hiking during calm weather. Gusting winds can be hazardous on unfriendly mountain roads.

Strong winds over 50mph (miles per hour) can interrupt your hiking progress and can drastically increase your chances of getting injured. Mountain tops are windier than adjacent valleys. That’s why the hill winds can change their course very frequently. In such a situation, you will feel the air pressure from all sides. This can lead to dementia, hypothermia, and frostnip. So, it is paramount to stay strong in such challenging weather conditions.

What Wind Speed Is Dangerous To Hike In?

Walking on an open trail with limited tree coverage will be challenging if the wind speed is at 40mph. If the wind speeds are up to 50mph, it’s dangerous to continue for even experienced hikers. And, if the wind speeds exceed 55mph, then you should turn back immediately if you don’t want to risk an accident. Hence, keep an anemometer with you at all times while hiking to observe the wind speed.

Wind SpeedCategoryEffects
1-20 mphGentle BreezeYou will feel the wind flow over your face. Small trees will swing.
20- 40 mphModerate WindYou will find it difficult to walk. Big tree branches will dangle.
40 -60 mphStrong GaleHeavy wind will hold you back from walking. Larger branches and small trees will snap off. 
60 mph & overStromLarge trees will blow off and massive destruction. 

Tips For Hiking In High Wind

You should not be discouraged to go hiking just because of a mildly strong breeze. However, if the weather condition is severe, then you should not go out. It’s no joke having to fight with the wind all the way up to the summit. If you are determined to go hiking, then these tips will help you stay safe during strong winds.

Hiking In High Wind

Check The Weather Forecast

You probably have some idea about how dangerous windy weather can be in the mountains. One or two whiffs of wind will not cause too many problems during your hiking. But continuous heavy winds can be dangerous. 

Due to strong wind, your balance may become compromised. There is also the chance of you getting hypothermia. Plus, if your visibility is hampered, then there is a chance that you may slip and fall. So, it is recommended that you check the weather forecast before you set off. If you see that the weather forecast is indicating strong winds, then you should perhaps reconsider going hiking. 

Select An Appropriate Route

Although hiking in high winds is considered unsafe, the risk depends on where you are going and what route you are taking. For example, if the wind speed is 40 mph, you are more likely to be endangered in an exposed place. Therefore, you should choose a route where there are lots of trees and foliage. If you notice the wind speed pick up, then take cover behind large boulders or trees. 

Wear Wind-Resistant Clothing

Once you find the perfect route, it’s time to set out for your hike. For a slight cold breeze, you don’t have to make any changes to your hiking attire. But you’ll need to dress accordingly if the wind starts to blow. To avoid high winds, you need to wear wind-resistant clothing. Wind jackets, windbreakers, and other weatherproof layers of clothing are good choices. 

But if it rains or snow falls, you will get wet. Then, hiking wearing wet clothes in the cold wind is the worst possible scenario. So, wearing a raincoat on top of your windbreaker will save you both from unexpected rain and robust wind. 

Pack Wisely

Backpacking is a skill that takes time and effort to develop. Hence, a few notable considerations will help you out when hiking in high wind. Only take the most essential items. Pack your things tight. Leave nothing loose. Make sure your backpack is well-balanced. An asymmetrical pack can put you in danger. Place everything inside your backpack except for heavy items. Lastly, secure all the heavy items by clipping them to your backpack and body. 

Know When to Turn Around

Mountains aren’t going anywhere. If it’s too windy and you can’t move forward, it’s time to head back. When hiking during high winds, you should always be prepared to turn around. You should prioritize your own safety above all else when facing off against gusting winds.

Wrapping Up

Hiking is a great way to stay active and close to nature. But it’s strongly suggested to not try to encounter nature when it’s furious. You should pick a trail for high-wind hiking that has enough shelter to protect you if the situation gets dire. After all, being safe is more important than an adventure in adverse weather. So, before hiking in high wind, know the weather forecast and wind speed before going out.

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