Winter Pack for Hiking- FitLabPGH video podcast

This week’s FitLabPGH Podcast release is a video podcast providing a look inside Ben’s winter hiking backpack. This is what we carry on a 1-3 hour hike…in the winter…with Labradors. The goal is to get outside, enjoy moving, and get home safely…even if something goes wrong.

Listen to the audio, or enjoy the Labradors and cats in the video podcast

Safety first: before your hike, let someone know where you’re going, and when you plan to return…especially if you’ll be in an area with limited or no cell phone coverage.

Hydration is important! In the summer, we may opt for an USWE Pack with a hydration bladder, but if freezing fluids is a risk, go for an insulated water bottle. Looking for extra calories to fuel your hike? Consider adding maple syrup or honey to your water (or tea).

Ben’s current winter pack is from MHM Gear in Colorado – it’s the Switch 26 (26 liter).  First in the pack: a snack. This is personal preference. Ben opts for mini Clif Bars and gel packs of fruit and veggie baby food…don’t judge. Although Lisa’s never seen him use it, Ben also carries a monocular for wildlife viewing.

The outer pockets of the pack hold a collapsible hiking pole (because we don’t have 4-Paw Drive like the Labs to handle slippery or unstable trails) and a second (lighter) pair of wool gloves. After Ben warms up, he stashes his winter mittens or gloves, and puts on the lighter pair from the pack.

Now we enter the “Just in Case” or “Emergency” section of the pack. A waterproof, foldable jacket. First aid kits for humans and dogs. Looking for an Adventure Emergency Kit that comes in a waterproof tube complete with flashlight and compass? Check out (they also make a coffee kit and a flask kit). For a true canine emergency, Ben carries a Fido Pro Airlift that allows you to carry a dog in a sling across your hips…we hope we NEVER need to use it. For milder canine emergencies (like a torn dew claw), Ben carries dog boots and an extra leash.

A whistle is always a good safety idea…along with an extra hat, neck gaiter, socks, and a spare pair of glasses. If you fall in a stream, you may be really thankful for dry socks! At the bottom of the pack, Ben keeps a knife and a small pair of loppers…you never know when you might need a tool to extricate yourself, or your companion, from underbrush or a pricker bush.

Take home message: get outside, enjoy moving, and return home safely…so that you can continue to make movement part of your lifestyle.

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Check out our sister podcast Moving2Live concise but interesting podcasts for the movement and exercise professional and amateur aficionado.

Attribution for Intro/Exit Podcast Music:
Marathon Man by Jason Shaw from the album Audionautix: Acoustic, licensed under an Attribution 3.0 United States License. Available at