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Stay Comfortable in Any Weather: Wind

Read the terrain and use anchors to stay grounded.

On the Trail | In Camp | Key Gear


Understand and adapt to wind patterns. Ridges, passes, rivers, and lakeshores see the strongest gusts; avoid them unless you’re fleeing bugs or heat.

Prevent windburn. In an unrelenting blow–whether it’s sunny or cloudy–apply sunscreen (we like Dermatone; $7, and wear sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.

Turn your head. When you have to hike head-on into an icy breeze and your hat and hood don’t shield you enough, turn your head sideways and use peripheral vision to see where you’re going.

Tie off loose pack straps. "They’re like little whips," notes Van Steen.

Wait it out. Temperature fluctuations make air rise and fall, creating winds that can quickly change. In the mountains, wind often rises at dawn and in the afternoon as air heats up. Heading into exposed terrain? Time or delay your departure to match the local patterns.

Pick your path. If the wind doesn’t die down, hike behind natural windbreaks. The lee side of a ridge offers protection from winds whipping at high elevation.

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