Hi After Work Hikers,
I plan to leading after work hikes throughout the year, although maybe only once a month or so during the winter months. To safely go on these hikes as winter approaches, I suggest you get the following gear if you don't already have it:Headlamp
--The sun is setting earlier, so the last part of our hikes now will be after sunset, and eventually our hikes will be starting after sunset. On some occasions, e.g. on a full moon night, headlamps may not be necessary, but it's always a good idea to have one. The Black Diamond Spot, is currently on sale at REI: http://www.rei.com/product/771451
, although it's worth looking at the different kinds available (some use AAA batteries vs. lithium, etc.) A flashlight will work, although that involves using a hand to carry it, which isn't convenient if you're also using poles.Traction device
for boots--When we start getting snow/ice on the trails, we can still hike, but traction devices are helpful. For after work hikes, in my experience, parts of the trails sometimes get ice during the winter, and you often don't know whether they have icy conditions until you get there. For hiking in the mountains during the fall/winter/spring, these devices are essential. They're needed when there's not enough snow for snow shoes, but there's still packed down snow or ice on the trail. I suggest not to buy Yak-Traks--they tend to fall apart easily (it's OK to use them if you already have them). Instead, look at Micro Spikes or some other brands, e.g. http://www.rei.com/search?query=micro+spikes
. For after work hikes, the cheaper chains should suffice.Poles
--I use poles year-round for hiking in the mountains, although I don't always use them on after work hikes. During the winter, if the trails have ice on them, poles will help for stabilization.
Except for the headlamp, there's no hurry to get this equipment. I generally have a list of things I need eventually, and then watch for sales or e.g. 20% off coupons from REI to check things off the list.
Hike Leader & Organizer