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Photograph of Pete Lake in Washington State with the sun about to go down behind the mountains.


Amputee Outdoors isn't just for amputees, any lover of hiking, backpacking and camping will find value in this site.  But, if you are an amputee, I hope the videos, advice, and gear reviews educate and inspire you to enjoy the beauty of nature.

  • Look through the Gear dropdown to read reviews of gear I've used and tested along with examples and discussions of hiking and backpacking gear.

  • Read the articles in the Advice section for information on a variety of hiking, camping, and backpacking topics

  • Visit the Latest Videos to see where I've been or reviewed lately. 

And of course, don't forget to check out my YouTube channel, Amputee Outdoors to see all my adventures, tips and tricks, and reviews. Thanks for visiting!

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I hope you’re all excited about winter hiking this year. I know some of you are new to this, so I wanted to share some tips on how to dress for the cold weather and stay comfortable on the trail.

The key to winter hiking is layering. Layering is a system of wearing different types of clothing that you can add or remove depending on the temperature, wind, and precipitation. This way, you can regulate your body heat and avoid getting too hot or too cold.

There are three main layers you need to know about: base, mid, and outer.

Base Layer: This is the layer that touches your skin and wicks away sweat. You want to avoid cotton, (cotton is rotten, cotton kills) which stays wet and makes you feel cold. Instead, go for synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, or natural fibers like merino wool or silk. These materials dry faster and keep you warm even when damp. You can choose from lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight base layers depending on how cold it is. For example, I usually wear a midweight long-sleeve shirt and leggings as my base layer.

Mid Layer: This is the layer that insulates you from the cold and traps your body heat. You can use fleece, wool, down, or synthetic fill as your mid-layer. You can also wear more than one mid-layer if it’s really cold. For example, I usually wear a fleece jacket and pants as my mid-layer, and sometimes I add a down vest or jacket if I need extra warmth.

Outer Layer: This is the layer that protects you from the wind and rain. You want a waterproof and breathable shell that can keep you dry and let out excess moisture. You can wear a rain jacket and pants, or a softshell jacket and pants if it’s not too wet. For example, I usually wear either a lightweight rain jacket or a heavier more insulated rain jacket and pants as my outer layer, and I have a pair of waterproof gloves and a hat to cover my hands and head.

The trick with layering is to adjust your layers as you hike. You don’t want to start with too many layers, because you’ll get sweaty and wet. You also don’t want to have too few layers, because you’ll get chilled and hypothermic. The best way to layer is to start cold and add layers if you need to. You can also take off or put on layers at rest stops or when the weather changes.

Some clothes that I recommend for winter hiking are: (Note: As an Amazon Affliate, if you purchase an item from one of these links, Amputee Outdoors will earn a percentage of the purchase amount)

I hope this helps you prepare for your winter hiking adventures. Stay warm and dry and for a review of my Three Outdoor Principals, check out this blog post.

Lots of folks have written about how popular exploring the outdoors has become and lots of companies have been taking advantage of it. Lots of social media folks and YouTubers too, (yours truly included, check out Amputee Outdoors on YouTube).

But just how popular? And what's driving it? I've done some research and was able to track down the number of National Park visits dating back to 1904. To make it easier to understand, I've put it all into this graph.

  • That first little climb between 1932 and 1936 is when personally owned cars started becoming more available to the public purchasing limits.

  • There was a dip during WWII.

  • In 2002 a severe dip which I think was a collateral effect from September 11th, 2001.

  • The sudden drop-off in 2020 is the result of COVID-19.

  • Look at that sudden climb in 2012 and the fast recovery post-2020. What's going on there?

I think there are four upward driving factors starting in 2012:

  • The popularity of social media: Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok have become increasingly influential sources of information and inspiration for travelers, especially younger generations. Many people use social media to share their photos and videos of their trips, as well as to find and follow other travelers who post about their adventures. Social media can also create viral trends and challenges that motivate people to visit certain places or do certain activities. For example, the #FindYourPark and #RecreateResponsibly hashtags have been widely used by park visitors and advocates to promote and celebrate national parks.

  • The centennial of the National Park Service: In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary, which generated a lot of publicity and interest in national parks. The agency launched the Find Your Park campaign, which encouraged people to discover and explore the diverse and unique parks across the country. The campaign also featured celebrities, influencers, and partners who shared their stories and experiences in national parks. As a result, national park visitation reached a record high of 331 million in 2016.

  • The diversity and accessibility of parks: The United States has a rich and varied network of national and state parks that offer something for everyone. Whether people are looking for history, culture, wildlife, scenery, or adventure, they can find a park that suits their interests and preferences. Moreover, many parks are accessible and affordable, with low or no entrance fees, free or discounted passes, and various amenities and facilities. Some parks also have special programs and events that cater to different groups and communities, such as veterans, seniors, students, and families.

  • The awareness and appreciation of nature: More people are becoming aware and concerned about the environmental and social issues that affect the planet, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and social justice. They are also becoming more appreciative of the benefits and values of nature, such as health, well-being, and happiness. These factors can inspire and motivate people to visit national and state parks, where they can learn about and enjoy nature, as well as support conservation and stewardship efforts.

More people enjoying the health (mental and physical) benefits of the outdoors and learning to appreciate the glorious beauty and value of our nation's natural landscapes is a good thing. To a point. In a follow-up article, I'll examine the downsides of so many folks experiencing the great outdoors.

Many folks will disagree with me on this, but hiking in the rain can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. The trails aren't crowded, the sound of water dripping from the trees is relaxing, and it helps you appreciate the wonders of modern living so much more!

However, it requires some extra preparation and precautions to avoid hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when your body temperature drops below normal. Here are my tips on how to prepare for hiking in the rain and avoiding hypothermia.

  • Choose the right trail. Some trails may be more suitable for rainy weather than others, depending on the terrain, elevation, exposure, and difficulty. Avoid trails that are prone to flooding, erosion, or landslides. Also, consider the length and duration of your hike, and whether you have enough time to complete it before dark or before the weather worsens.

  • Dress appropriately. The key to staying warm and dry in the rain is to dress in layers of synthetic or wool clothing that can wick moisture away from your skin and provide insulation. Avoid cotton, which can absorb water and make you colder. A typical layering system for rainy hiking consists of a base layer, a mid-layer, a rain jacket, and rain pants. You may also want to wear a hat, gloves, and gaiters to protect your head, hands, and feet from the rain. Make sure your clothing fits well and allows you to move comfortably.

  • Choose waterproof footwear. Your feet are likely to get wet in the rain, so you need footwear that can keep them as dry and warm as possible. Waterproof hiking boots or shoes are a good option, as they can prevent water from seeping in and provide traction and support on slippery surfaces. You should also wear wool or synthetic socks that can wick moisture away from your feet and prevent blisters. Bring extra pairs of socks and change them if they get wet.

  • Pack smart. Your backpack should be waterproof or have a rain cover to protect your gear from getting wet. You should also pack your items in dry bags or ziplock bags inside your backpack for extra protection. Some essential items to pack for rainy hiking include:

  • A map and compass or a GPS device to navigate in case of low visibility or trail markings being washed away.

  • A headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries in case you need to hike in the dark or signal for help.

  • A first-aid kit with blister supplies and hypothermia treatment items such as a thermometer, a heat pack, and a thermal emergency blanket.

  • A whistle or a mirror to attract attention in case of an emergency.

  • A fire starter such as matches, a lighter, or a flint to start a fire if needed.

  • Extra clothing such as underwear, socks, gloves, hat, and fleece jacket to change into if you get wet or cold.

  • Food and water to keep your energy and hydration levels up. Choose food that is easy to eat and prepare, such as energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, sandwiches, or instant soups. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you and impair your body’s ability to regulate temperature. If possible, drink warm fluids such as water, tea, or hot chocolate.

  • Stay safe on the trail. Hiking in the rain can pose hazards you need to be aware of and avoid. Some of these include:

  • Hypothermia. This is the most serious risk of hiking in the rain, as it can impair your judgment, coordination, and vital functions. To prevent hypothermia, you need to stay warm and dry as much as possible. If you notice any signs of hypothermia such as shivering, slurred speech, confusion, drowsiness, or weak pulse, you need to seek shelter immediately and call for help if possible. You should also remove any wet clothing and replace it with dry clothing or blankets. You can also use body heat from another person or a heat pack to warm up. You should also drink warm fluids and eat high-calorie food if you can.

  • Slippery surfaces. Rain can make rocks, logs, bridges, and trails slippery and unstable. You need to be careful where you step and use trekking poles if you have them to maintain your balance and stability. You should also slow down your pace and avoid jumping or running.

  • Water crossings. Rain can increase the water level and flow of creeks, streams, and rivers. You need to assess the water depth, speed, and temperature before crossing any water source. If the water is too deep (above your knees), too fast (you can’t see the bottom), or too cold (you feel numbness or pain in your feet), you should not cross it. You should look for a safer place to cross, such as a bridge, a log, or a shallow and calm spot. You should also unfasten your backpack straps and use a trekking pole or a stick to test the water and keep your balance. You should also wear your rain pants and gaiters to keep your legs dry as possible.

  • Have fun. I know hiking in the rain isn't for everyone, but I do recommend at least trying it. Just be well-prepared and have a positive attitude. You can enjoy the fresh air, the soothing sound of rain, the vibrant colors of nature, and the solitude of the trail. You can also spot some wildlife that may be more active in the rain, such as frogs, snails, worms, or birds. You can also take some beautiful photos of raindrops, mist, clouds, or rainbows. Just remember to protect your camera or phone from the rain and moisture.

I hope these tips help you prepare for hiking in the rain and avoiding hypothermia. Remember to check the weather forecast before you go, pack accordingly, stay safe on the trail, and have fun. See you out there!

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