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 Ocean 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:
#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.
#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 Westport.
#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 gaiters
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.
#5 – Pack a headlamp
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 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 activities you are planning, be prepared. 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. Grab your hiking boots and discover the best that Westport County Mayo has to offer.