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Cold Weather Clothing

Long Underwear:  Examples are EMS Bergelene or Patagonia Capilene.  Good long underwear will be either all synthetic or a wool syntheitc blend.

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Gloves and Mittens

Mittens of wool or fleece are much more effective at warming cold hands than finger gloves.  A pair of lightweight finger gloves is excellent for warmer days, or as a liner glove, or to wear while performing tasks such as picture taking or lunch.

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In winter raingear will not only help you in the rain but also snow and wind.  Coated nylon offeres excellent protection and the breathable fabrics (such as Gore Tex) work well but are much more expensive.

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Snowshoes and Crampons

Snowshoes:  It is a great idea to rent before you buy.  The main error in purchasing snowshoes is buying ones that are too large.  Snowshoe sizes are usually recommended by the manufarturer according to weight for worst case conditions like walking in untracked fresh powder.  Hikers who use well tracked trails do not need these huge shoes.  For typical conditions in the Catskills and Adirondacks almost everyone will be well served by 25” snowshoes and the truly petite can easily use ones of 19” to 21” which are often called aerobic snowshoes since they are made for trail runners.

Make sure you rent or purchase a snowshoe whose bindings attach to the snowshoe via a steel bar (rather than a web or neoprene strap).  Examples are Tubbs Altitude Series or Sherpa Snowshoes.

Crampons come in three varieties:

Instep crampons of 4 to 6 points strap to the instep of your hiking boot and are useful for slippery moderate to gentle slopes.  They are not to be trusted in steeper terrain since they easily slip off the boot.

Rigid or step in binding crampons are made for plastic mountaineering boots and can also be uses with some heavy leather boots with stiff soles.  Usually for serious mountaineering on extremely steep slopes.

Flexible crampons: Designed to attach to your boots via a binding strap these offer excellent protection for most conditions in the Catskills or Adirondacks.

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Map and Compass

Even if you are a participant in an organized hike you will want to have a trail map of your own.  It offers you a chance to “follow along” and learn more about your whereabouts.  Sooner or later you will want to be proficient enough to use a map and plan your own hike.  Maps for Harriman and the Catskills are published by the NY/NJ Trail conference and are available in all outfitters or online. Click Here  Maps of the Adirondacks are published by the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Though you generally won’t need a compass on marked trails a compass can help you keep oriented.  A compass is a very simple device and you won’t need one with many extra features.  A simple compass on a card which looks like this will serve you well.

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First Aid

Gear your first aid kit to the problems you most often encounter or anticipate.  Do you get blisters easily?  Then bring some moleskin and blister pads.  Tend to sprain an ankle easily?  Bring some extra tape to bind up a sore ankle.  A basic kit for all hikes includes:

  • Band Aids
  • Tape / Duct Tape
  • Advil or other pain reliever
  • Personal medication (allergies, prescription drugs, etc.)
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