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  • January 28, 2022 4 min read

    Essential Knowledge for Winter Outdoor Exploration

    If you're like most people, the colder weather brings about a desire to stay indoors and hibernate until spring. But what if you could enjoy the winter wonderland while staying safe?

    Avalanche safety is essential for anyone who wants to explore the great outdoors during winter. This blog post will provide some basic tips on avalanche safety for beginners and everyone who is planning a trip outdoors this winter season.

    Woman camping outdoors in the winter. Snowcapped mountains visible in the background.

    1. What is an Avalanche?

    Before you head out, we recommend learning more about avalanche safety to . Avalanches are a natural disaster that can happen when snow accumulates on a slope to the point where it becomes unstable and breaks loose, cascading down the mountain. They typically occur during or after a storm, when the new snow creates a weak layer that can easily break free underweight. Avalanches can be deadly, and it is best to learn how to identify an avalanche and take the necessary precautions to stay safe while exploring outdoors. 


    2. Why is it Important to Check Avalanche Forecast and Trail Conditions?


    We recommend to always check your local avalanche forecast and trail conditions when you are planning for the trip, the days leading up to the trip, on the day of the trip, and throughout the trip.


    In the United States, The National Avalanche Center provides daily forecasts for areas across the country.


    In Canada, you can refer to the Mountain Information Network for the forecast and latest updates on avalanche in your area.

    3. How to Recognize the Signs of an Avalanche?


    There are three major signs of an avalanche:


    i ) Little snow noise as it slides. this typically means the snow breaks free from the cohesive slab and will be a fast-moving 'avalanche'.


    ii) White-out conditions where snow blots out your vision, like surroundings without shape or features due to heavy blobs of snow falling from the sky. This can often signal a weak area that is about to break loose.


    iii) However, the most important sign of all is a loud crack, or violent shaking feel on contact with the ground, trees or buildings – which will indicate the potential for avalanches has become dangerous, and you should evacuate immediately.


    Here is a guide of the North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale.

    North America Public Avalanche Danger Scale | Avalanche Canada
    [Credit: Avalanche Canada]

    4. Are You Bringing The Right Gear?


    Before heading out, equipping yourself with the right gear can make the big difference between life and death in an avalanche. We cannot emphasize more on the importance of coming fully prepared, the essential gears are not limited to a beacon, probe, shovel, and an airbag pack.


    i) Beacon

    A beacon is a device that helps rescuers find you if you're caught in an avalanche. It transmits a signal that rescue teams can track.

    ii) Probe

    A probe is used to locate someone buried in an avalanche. The probe is inserted into the snow and dragged across the surface until it hits something.

    iii) Shovel

    A shovel is a tool used to dig someone out of an avalanche. It's also helpful for creating a platform to help the avalanche victims to breathe while waiting for help to arrive.

    iv) Airbag Pack

    An airbag pack is a backpack that helps keep you on the surface if you are caught in an avalanche. The bag inflates and creates a barrier between you and the snow.


    Avalanche essential gears are not limited to a beacon, probe, shoevel, and an airbag pack.

    5. Why is it Important to Pack Light?


    Packing light but making sure you have all the essential is important if you're planning to go for a long trip or a one-way trip. Sometimes, this means getting rid of things you don't really need or investing in a lightweight gear. Not all lightweight gears are made for durability, which is why you can pack light with food. 


    Our meals are light and makes it easy to pack without compromising on storage space and nutrients. The snack size weighs at 56g (or 2oz) and the meal size weighs at 112g (or 4oz). Best of all, the meals do not have to be mushed in your backpack and can be easily prepared with just boiling hot water and a utensil. You can save on bringing a plate, container, kitchenware, and single item ingredients to prepare for your meals.


    With more extra room in your backpack, you can bring more layers and essential avalanche gears for your trip. You can also designate someone in the group to carry specific items to even out the load, which will help lighten your backpacks and makes it easier for outdoor winter exploration.


    Here is the link to our meals and you can save even more by buying the meals as packs or subscriptions. We have a size for every type of trip, feel free to message us if you need further guidance on how many meals to bring for your upcoming trip(s)!


    Two people enjoying Nomad Nutrition, plant-based dehydrated meals optimized for nutrients, outdoors in the winter. Foggy snow-capped mountains visible in the background.


    6. Why Should You Take an Avalanche Safety Class?


    We recommend taking an avalanche safety class from a qualified instructor before your outdoor exploration. The course and tips from the instructor will equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to stay safe in potential avalanche terrain. You can also brush up on avalanche safety knowledge and skills with an advanced or refresher courses.


    Avalanche safety is important for anyone who wants to enjoy the winter wonderland, while staying safe. Now that you have some basic information about avalanche safety, we are excited to see you gain confidence and check off the winter outdoors exploration from your travel bucket list.


    Stay informed and be prepared before heading out this winter!

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