It doesn't have to be freezing outside for a person to suffer from
hypothermia. In fact, being submersed in water in the 50's can cause
To help avoid hypothermia (or just generally to stay warm), it's important
to stay dry. Cotton, of course, is not your friend when it comes to staying
dry. There's a reason for all those expensive synthetic clothing.
My favorite piece of warming gear to take, on both day hikes, snowshoe hikes, and
backpacking, is a balaclava. The one I have is thin as a t-shirt and yet
has an immense impact on keeping me warm. A large amount of heat is lost
through the head, and a balaclava helps prevent that. A simple hat, of
course, will also help. The balaclava has the added benefit of reducing
wind chill on your face.
An emergency blanket is small and lightweight, and can be used to retain
heat in an emergency. If you ever unfold it, however, it's a pain to try
to put back together.
Return to Hiking Hazards.