Editor's Note: The Summit Hut Hiking Report is a new feature to the Summit Hut blog. Along with our typical great content (gear reviews, trail descriptions, travel stories, etc.) we will be publishing a monthly Hiking Report with a quick look at some of the key tips, gear and destinations for the season.
Let's face it, one of the things many of us love about the desert southwest is not having to deal with much of that white stuff on the ground in winter! If you love the outdoors, you undoubtedly love being able to participate in your favorite activities year-round. Whether it's cycling, hiking, climbing, trail running, or any other outdoor pursuit, you can do it just about any day of the year. As it finally starts to cool off, there are a lot of things to consider when you hit the trails during a desert winter.
Tip: Layer! Layer! Layer! Layering is key to staying comfortable during a desert winter. It isn't uncommon for a day to start out in the 20's or 30's and quickly warm up into the mid-60's or 70's. A standard layering system consists of three pieces: A baselayer, an insulating piece and a shell. Baselayers are typically form-fitting, and one of their main jobs is managing moisture. A good baselayer will transfer sweat away from your body, keeping you comfortable during high-aerobic activity and baselayers are usualy either made from wool or a synthetic fabric - examples include the Patagonia Capilene line or products from Icebreaker. An insulating piece is typically a down or fleece jacket - something like the Marmot Ares Jacket or Mountain Hardwear MicroChill Jacket. The main role here is warmth. Finally, a shell is vital, especially in situations where you might encounter rain or snow, or high winds. A shell is typically wind and rain-proof and shields you from the elements - an example here is the Marmot Minimalist Jacket.
Gear: Beyond a great layering system, there is tons of gear that makes winter hiking more enjoyable. Remember, staying protected from the sun is a year-round concern, especially here in Tucson. Summit Hut is very aware of the unique local climate and is sure to keep sun protective gear, and products like shorts and short-sleeve shirts, in stock all year long. We can't talk about shopping during the month of December and not mention how great of a selection of gifts Summit Hut carries! We have one of the most unique selections of toys, goodies, gadgets and gizmos you can find in Tucson and we're sure to have something for anyone on your list. Check out our Holiday Gift Guide for some of our favorite suggestions!
Destinations: Winter Hiking in Tucson offers just about everything you can imagine. Stick to the lowlands if you're looking to keep a little warmer. Destinations like Wasson Peak in the Tucson Mountains offer a premier desert hiking experience. Since we haven't had a winter storm just yet, and daytime highs are still creeping into the high-70's and low-80's, pretty much all of southern Arizona is primed for great hiking. If you're looking to get a little use out of your jackets while it still feels a little like summer in the valley, heading up to the Aspen Loop or Butterfly trail will offer much cooler weather and great hiking! No matter what kind of winter adventure you're looking for, be sure to swing by Summit Hut for the gear, and advice, you're looking for!