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Travel to Cold Climates

winter outdoor scene showing snow and ice

Travelers to cold climates face many risks. Even in mild climates, wind and rain can produce cold-related injuries in temperatures as warm as 50°F, and swimming or diving in cold water can make you lose your ability to stay afloat in less than 15 minutes.

When traveling in cold climates, wear warm clothing in several loose layers. Gloves should protect your hands, and a hat or hood should protect your head. In wet conditions, shoes should be waterproof and have good traction. Make sure that your cold-weather gear does not restrict your movement or block your eyesight. When engaging in adventure activities in cold weather or around cold water, have safety equipment and gear that will keep you warm and dry.


Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 95°F. Mild hypothermia can make you feel confused, and you may not think anything is wrong until it is too late. Being too cold can also cloud your judgment and cause you to make mistakes, which can be deadly.

Early symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, feeling tired, being clumsy, and being confused. As your body loses more heat, the shivering may stop, your skin may turn blue, the pupils of your eye may expand, your pulse and breathing may slow, and you may pass out.


snow skier

Frostbite happens when a part of the body freezes, damaging tissue. Fingers and toes are most at risk. If the tissue can’t be saved, the body part may need to be amputated. Warning signs of frostbite include numbness or tingling, stinging, or pain where you are most exposed to the cold. Frostbite is treated by warming the body part in warm water.

Modern clothing and equipment have decreased the risk for adventure travelers, but frostbite still occurs after accidents, as a result of poor planning, and in severe, unexpected weather.