Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trekking in the Cold - Wearing Your Little One & Knowing Your Own Limits

In the past we've debated about whether or not we should set a temperature at which we will not hike past. The general consensus from the feedback I've received has always been... keep Trekking, even when I was the one wimping out. All parents in the group are responsible for dressing themselves and their kids appropriately for the conditions and knowing what their own personal limits are. You'll notice in the winter that the group that starts off on the trail tapers off rapidly as families turn back when they know they've gotten what they needed. We all have had those days where we've lasted only 10 minutes because of a gear malfunction or we just know it isn't what our kiddo wants. We've agreed that those 10 minutes were so worth it, if just for getting us out of the house in the depths of winter, when it is soooo easy to stay in and work ourselves into the winter blues or hibernation.

Having been in Kodiak for what winter we've had so far, I haven't seen single or even the teens yet this season. When thinking about gearing up my now two kiddos for Treks when we get back seems daunting, but exciting. The one thing I wish to improve on this year is keeping my non-mobile hiker sufficiently warm. Knowing all I do about keeping comfortable in the cold, I still have a few things to learn. I looked back at some of my pictures of previous year's cold hikes, and my oldest looks cold. He didn't complain, but he looked it.

Here's the deal... unlike Skedaddle where kids are moving on their own and generating their own heat while running around the playground, kids that are worn, in strollers, sleds, pulks or chariots do no create their own heat. Strollers and chariots are easy fixes, as you can throw in handwarmers and layers of cozy blankets. Carriers are my concern. While their cores are kept warm from being close to you, the arms and legs of worn children dangle and because they do, they can get cold much, much faster as their circulation is compromised, even in the best carrier. So do we keep those kids in? Absolutely not. The remedy. Make sure you get them out and moving periodically through out your hike. Check on them frequently. Layers only go so far. Most importantly, turn back when you know either you or your little one have had enough. Sometimes it is tempting to keep pushing when it took so long just to get out the door... but just let getting out the door be the accomplishment and everything else a bonus. There isn't anything better you can role model for your child than knowing when to push your  limits and when not to. The deep cold is not a time to test our your max threshold. It makes for a nasty car ride home. Talk about with your children why you are putting the layers you are putting on them. Debrief with them after a hike and talk about what worked and what didn't to get your own tailored system down.


  1. Can you tell me more about how you use handwarmers and other warming devices in stroller? I've received burns from handwarmers used in my pockets so I'm nervous about figuring out how to use them best in a stroller or chariot. I was meaning to write it to ask you so I was glad to see this post to spur me on!

  2. What do you do to keep babies faces warm? We've walked with my little girl in an ergo all bundled up. She's warm all over except her cheeks and nose and that's what causes the fussing and makes us go inside within 15 minutes. Any suggestions?