5 Tips for Hiking in the Off-Season in Westport
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5 Tips for Hiking in the Off-Season in Westport


With fewer crowds, more space, and a lesser impact on our ecological systems during the off-season; we call that a win-win-win! Our hikes and trails are doable and beautiful in the winter, however, with the quick change of weather the Atlantic can throw at us, it’s important to account for the temperature, terrain, and daylight changes. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when venturing out around Westport this season:

5 Tips for Hiking in Westport During Off Season  - Destination Westport
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#1 Cover Up

The weather conditions here can be deceiving. Often, it’s the sunniest winter days that take us most by surprise, because once the wind picks up, your nose, cheeks, ears and fingers are much more exposed to windburn. The higher up in elevation you go and the colder the temperature gets, the greater the risk for frostbite, so be sure to pack items that can help cover your exposed skin even if it’s a sunny day. Good waterproof gloves are great to have, you won't be able to take those mountain pics on your phone with freezing hands.

#2 – Say no to cotton

Layering this time of year is the key to your comfort, and the types of layers you chose are equally as important. Synthetic and wool layers dry much faster than cotton and will move perspiration away from your skin while insulating. If you want to stay as warm and comfortable as possible, it’s a good idea to wear your warmer wool or synthetic layer closest to your skin, followed by your other more technical layers. Also, whatever you don’t wear right away, just toss in your bag in case you need to layer up more on the hike.

If you’re looking for some new layers to add to your rails – check out some of our local outdoor clothing shops like PortWest.

#3 – Wear a winter hat

We’re all about bobble hats here in Westport. Not only are they a local outfit staple this time of year, they are also an essential tool for keeping the heat in, and helping the heat circulate in your body. So, it’s best to wear one when you start your adventure or just have one in your bag that you can easily put on when the temperature starts to drop. Don't worry about the hat hair, it's a good look here too!

#4 – Get some good gaiters & boots

Don’t know what gaiters are? You’re not alone! Gaiters are like waterproof sleeves that help to cover the more vulnerable parts of your ankle/foot from the elements. So regardless if your hike will take you through snow or wet conditions, gaiters are key in staying dry and comfortable. If you are headed to more boggy parts these bad boys are essential.

Hiking boots or sturdy shoes are absolutely essential, even on Croagh Patrick. Not only will they keep your feet warm but will also have ankle support for rough terrain and keep your feet warm and dry.

#5 – Pack some tech & treats

Whether you’re afraid of the dark or not you’ll want to prepare for the possibility of hiking in low or no light. The days are much shorter this time of year, and with all of the beauty you’ll be soaking in on your journey, daylight can fade a little quicker than you planned. If you’re headed out to Croagh Patrick for the first time, or you’re trying a hike that you’re not familiar with, this is a game changer. Also, it’s a good idea to bring extra headlamp batteries with you just in case, because the cold temperatures tend to drain batteries quickly. The same applies for your phone, make sure it's fully charged or have a backup battery pack. This is going to be essential if you are using an App with your walking Map.

Finally, surgery snacks and sambos are a must-have to keep the energy levels up, a flask of hot sweet tae is your saviour at the top of any mountain on a winter's day!

The above is a super quick checklist; however, by no means is it exhaustive. It’s important to do ample preparation when going out in nature, any time of year. No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared and don't be overly ambitious, choose a walk that you and your group are able to do. Also, start early in the morning and allow for plenty of delays or stop off's along the trail before nightfall. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. Mountaineering Ireland is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.

Find a list of local hikes here and tips on climbing Croagh Patrick here.

Happy hiking!