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Hiking Hazards - Hypothermia

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 hypothermia.

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.

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