The clocks are going back on Saturday night, and the evenings are going to be longer. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom as we at Mud and Routes believe you can embrace the dark winter nights and make them your own! You can keep on night running, walking those night walks or even mountain biking in the dark. Here are a few general tips to keep safe and make the most of the dark, winter evenings.
1 – Invest in a super awesome head torch – This can make all the difference between having an experience that you’ll want to repeat and one you’ll never want to do again. Make it an adjustable one, as you can become blinded by powerful head torches when you’re in mist .Read our full guide on How to Choose a Headtorch for more info.
2 – Make sure you’re visible. Highly Visible! For walks, or anything else off road, it’s usually the same as you’d normally wear, but anything that involves road travel will need a serious investment in hi-viz. It’s clear to see
3 – Get Kitted Out. Make sure you’ve got everything you need on the Winter Walking Gear Kitlist as well as the winter trail-running gear list. Remember that it’s significantly colder at night, and you’ll definitely need those extra insulation layers on the walks and possibly something warm to don after the run.
4 – Keep an eye out on the weather. You really don’t want to be on the hill in extreme weather at night – that’s not what we’re suggesting! We’ve tried that and it’s no fun! Choose a clear night, reasonably calm and dry. We won’t let snow stop us, but we’re talking easier hills here rather than a mountaineering expedition over Crib Goch.
5 – Keep extra safe! Don’t set out without the proper kit – including an emergency shelter of some sort. We did a rundown of the kit in our article on Benightment on the Mountain part 2, and it’s even more important at night! Anything that we mention in our article on Making an Emergency Night on the Mountain Comfortable is also true for night walks. If you’re planning on some night photography or just hanging about, then taking a lightweight bivvy and sleeping bag might be wise.
6 – Get brushed up on those Navigational Skills – As it happens, we’ve a few posts that’ll help with the basics of mountain navigation, but you’ll need to know everything in those posts and more if you’re going onto any hill territory at night. It’s no coincidence that most candidates for the Summer Mountain Leader awards who don’t pass will do so because of poor night navigation (or ropework).
7 – A Bit of Luxury! We won’t suggest a hip-flask as alcohol lowers body temperature. However, a hot thermos flask, or a compact stove, can really help lift the spirits. Take an easy to prepare meal and you’ll feel much better on the summit than after a sandwich. It’s not as if you’re in a rush to get down before it gets dark?
Any ideas of your own to make the most of the winter evenings??