6 Ways To Convince Your Friends To Hike With You This Winter

This article originally appeared on Backpacker

Fans of winter hiking don't have to be told what makes the fourth season so magical: empty trails, pristine landscapes, views of snow-covered mountains, the opportunity to break out a pair of shiny new snowshoes, I could go on. But more frequently than most of us would prefer, getting friends, family, or loved ones to join us as we traverse frozen tundra in an inordinate number of layers can feel like trying to convince a petulant toddler that Brussels sprouts are not only nutritious, but delicious.

So if your repetitive pleadings (I mean, invitations) continue to get pushed aside like they're overcooked tiny cabbages, it's time to try a new tactic. If you really want company, it's time to step up your game from begging to enticing. These tips will convince your fairweather outdoorsy friend that cold-weather adventures aren't as bad as they sound.

Offer an education in layering

This may come as a surprise to seasoned outdoorists, but folks who don't spend their free time hoofing it up mountains usually don’t have the same grasp on the technicalities of layering. So if your intended adventure accomplice seems reticent, describe the wonders of base layers, mid layers, and outer layers, and how they're supposed to keep you warm, but not so warm that you’re sweaty. Then make sure they don't show up in layers that consist of pajama pants under blue jeans, especially if you're hiking in the snow (cotton kills, after all). I learned this the hard way when taking my warm weather-dwelling friends backpacking in Texas’s Guadalupe Mountains National Park in February. No snow or moisture was present, but boy was one of them cold in his Levis.

Once they get a grasp on how layering can keep them both cozy and dry, your invitation outside hopefully won’t conjure premonitions of teeth chattering and shivering for hours.

Lend them your gear

If you're trying to lure people who don't usually play outside in the winter onto snowy, icy trails, chances are, they don't have the necessary equipment such as soft-shell pants, waterproof hiking boots, microspikes, or snowshoes. Instead of suggesting they go out and invest hundreds of dollars in new gear and clothing in hopes that all it will take to convert them into a winter-loving hiker is one foray into the woods, offer to lend them your extras. Don't have extras or gear that could fit them? Offer to coordinate renting or borrowing what they need from an outdoor store or outdoorsy friend. The goal is to remove as many excuses and barriers to entry as possible.

Pack all the hand warmers

Most people's first excuse for why they don't like winter hiking is the cold. But very few folks actually like being cold. The rest of us have just managed to find solutions to make the cold less miserable. As the Norweigans say, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Your "bad clothes" cure: hand and foot warmers, such as HotHands or Ignik packets. Explain the magic of these wondrous devices to your frosty friend, then ensure that you pack enough for both you and your companion.

Pack bribes (I mean, treats)

What works to get toddlers to eat their vegetables (the promise of a cookie when they're done) also works for adults. So tell your hiking partner you'll be packing their favorite trail snacks plus treats to enjoy at the halfway point--hot chocolate, a battery-powered seat pad, or whatever it is you think will motivate them. Then offer to take them out for pizza or hot apple cider after the hike. The promise of a hot, hearty sub from our favorite vegan sandwich shop in Salt Lake City post-hike has convinced my husband to accompany me on more than one snowy excursion in the Wasatch range.

Take it easy

Even if you're sure your partner will love winter hiking, and even if they're in good shape, take it easy the first time out. Pick a short route and let them know you won't be summiting any mountains or trekking across ridges for eight hours. Find a relatively easy trail (keeping their physical fitness in mind, of course), and share details like trail distance, how long it will likely take, and what kind of elevation change they can expect.

Choose wisely

Even if you’re not summiting a mountain, select a trail to impress. Pick one with a big payoff like epic views, frozen waterfalls, or majestic aspen forests, and the excursion will be a lot easier to say yes to. A route that sells itself also means you won't feel like you have to bend the truth about how much fun this is going to be.

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