5 winter outdoor adventures that aren’t skiing or snowboarding
The air gets a little thinner and the cold begins to wrap around us as summer leaves and fall and winter descends. The days may be shorter and our environment seems quieter, but there’s no denying the beauty that comes along with winter.
Some people look at winter as a goodbye to their favorite outdoor activities. They hibernate inside gyms and workout studios until the warm weather brings back their favorite outdoor adventures.
However, there are plenty of winter outdoor adventures that transcend all seasons. So instead of hibernating when the temperatures cool, keep adventuring with these year-round activities.
It’s probably a lot more common to picture surfers in board shorts catching waves under sunny skies. Many surfers might prefer it that way as well, but there’s something to be said for cold water surfing. For one, you won’t have crowds of people competing for waves. For two, the weather in the winter can create some amazing waves that normally go un-surfed.
The key to winter surfing is having the right gear: a thick neoprene wetsuit, boots, gloves, and a hood for the surf. Outside the water, you’ll want to have some blankets, hand warmers, and hot water bottles ready. Bringing a friend along for safety sake, and making sure you’re moisturizing are also helpful tips for surfing in the colder months. It might seem like a hassle, but some of the best winter surf spots will make it all worth it.
Kayaking / Rafting
Whether you’re into white water or not, kayaking and rafting are an amazing summer water sports. However, you can also add another element to the sport by doing it in the winter in addition to the summer. Cold-water kayaking and rafting in whitewater can add an entirely new aspect to the sport that you won’t get in the summer.
It’s a bit more exciting, you’re bundled up, and the water can be a bit bigger than it is in the summer. You’ll want to focus on wearing the right gear to keep warm, much like any water sport during the winter, but you’d be surprised just how warm you’ll stay. Sticking to calmer water in the winter can be extremely relaxing and beautiful. Summer sports may be warmer and more comfortable, but winter water activities have a way of making you feel like you’re the only person left in the world.
Some climbers say that winter climbing and summer climbing are completely different sports. The snow, ice, and cold has the tendency to turn one terrain into something completely different than it is in the warmer months. As with any other change in temp and terrain, you’ll need gear and expectations that make sense for the conditions. Plan for the weather getting worse, pack hot liquids, bring all extreme winter climbing supplies – even if the terrain isn’t expected to need it, layer your clothes, and turn back if you need to.
During the 2016-2017 winter, we experienced La Nina, which caused cooler temperatures in the northern United States and warmer winter temps in the southern United States. For this reason, things like winter climbing and what types of temperatures to expect may depend on your location and whether or not La Nina makes another appearance in the 2017-2018 winter months. Either way, winter climbing is an entirely different animal and offers many different experiences and views than climbing in warmer months.
No matter what type of cycling you’re into, whether it be mountain biking or commuting to work, you can turn it into an all-season activity. Just like anything else, it simply requires some modification. Wearing more layers is important, but not so many that you’ll be sweating after a few minutes peddling.
A good base layer, gloves, boots, and head covering will make you plenty comfortable in the cooler temperatures. Depending on your area and the level of precipitation, you may look into the type of bike or gear you’ll need on your bike to make it through the conditions. The moisture and temps may cause problems for gears and suspension, and you might want tires that fit your traction needs.
However, you end up modifying your gear, cycling in the winter will mean clearer paths and the ability to hold onto your favorite sport regardless of the season.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition in which people can feel depressed and fatigued in the winter months as a result of the body’s lack of sunlight. Some people can combat this issue with light therapy. Another way to fight the winter blues is to boost endorphins with some exercise.
Continuing to run outside is one way to soak in as much sunlight in your workout as you can. More layers and better shoes may be all you need to turn your warm weather month sport into a cold weather sport as well. In fact, many runs and marathons take place in cooler months. Some runners prefer the cooler temps and bundled runs to the marathons in terrible heat.
Just be aware of the thinner air and how it can affect your breathing as well as your muscles. However, don’t let a little cold keep you from enjoying a run with a beautiful snowy backdrop.
Some people are okay with changing their chosen sport when the winter months come around. They hang up their surfboard or climbing shoes in exchange for a traditional snow sport like skiing, or for an indoor sport like weightlifting. Either option is fine, but remember that some sports that may seem like summer sports can double as both if you’re willing to modify them.
Summer is a versatile season allowing for a ton of different activities, but so is winter. For those who sacrifice for it, they are rewarded with all-season activities that are unlike any other.