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Five Tips for Fall (or Spring) Hiking in Alberta

by Karen Ung

Fall and spring are fickle in Alberta, so if you head out for a hike, you need to be prepared for every season in one day. Here are our top 5 tips for fall (or spring) hiking in Alberta.

5 tips for fall or spring hiking in alberta


    1. Carry the Ten Essential Systems. While all are important, be sure to have a headlamp for each person plus extra batteries to avoid being caught out after dark and unable to find your way back to your car (in which case you will need the rest of the essential systems). Extra layers are an absolute must as temperatures can drop rapidly. We bring one down sweater/vest per person, and extra mitts and socks for the kids since they tend to get wet playing in the snow. If it isn’t quite cold enough for snow pants, rain pants are great for blocking the wind or protecting against wet snow. We like MEC and Oakiwear Rain Pants.
    2. Bring ice cleats or microspikes for improved traction in icy conditions. Yaktrax are high quality ice cleats that are affordable and suitable for walking on fairly flat terrain. The XS size will fit toddler boots! For adults, I strongly recommend investing in Kahtoola microspikes  (Amazon affiliate link) as they work better on ice and inclines, and stay attached securely to your boots. Hiking poles are nice to have on steep terrain too, but I don’t always bring them on short hikes so I can have my hands free to help the kids.

      Kahtoola Microspikes and Outdoor Research Crocodiles Gaiters
    3. Wear gaiters to keep mud and snow out of your boots. Even waterproof boots will not protect your feet if snow goes in the top of them! I recommend breathable gaiters so you can wear them year-round without getting heat rash. The Outdoor Research Crocodiles Gaiters are pretty awesome and easy to put on/take off. Gaiters will also keep ticks out (ticks are active any time it’s above 4C). See my tick safety tips here.

    4. Bring a closed cell foam sleeping/sitting pad to sit on so you stay warm and dry at break time. This can also come in handy in an emergency to keep an injured person insulated from the cold while waiting for help.We like the Thermarest Ridgerest SOLITE and Thermarest Z-Lite SOL (Amazon Affiliate Links).
Comfy break time with our Thermarest Z Lite SOL

5. Bring hot drinks and/or soup in a Thermos. We like the 16 oz Stainless Steel Thermos Bottle. (Amazon Affiliate Link); it’s totally worth its weight! Many people find it hard to drink cold drinks on a cold day and get dehydrated. Did you know dehydration makes it hard to keep warm! To learn more tips on keeping warm, please read Keeping Warm in Spring (or Fall).

Hot cocoa for the win! Bring mini marshmallows in a ziploc bag.

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AllyH November 8, 2016 - 9:18 PM

Thank you so much!

Playoutsidegal November 6, 2016 - 4:11 AM

Hi Ally, We have Kahtoola Microspikes (size S for me and XS for the girls). I think Kahtoola discontinued the kids' spikes last year, but hopefully some places still have some around! If you can't find kids' spikes, I've heard great things about the smallest Yaktrax! I have had a couple pairs of those and find them ok if the terrain isn't super icy and steep (they work best on sidewalks and flat terrain, not on inclined, icy surfaces). Hope that helps!

AllyH November 6, 2016 - 2:40 AM

What kind of ice cleats or microspikes do your girls wear?

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