Fuel the Machine...
You've planned your route, you're dressed for the conditions, you've got your spares packed (don't forget to pack these additional layers in a dry bag - some might chose to have a pack liner and have coloured dry bags for specific items...more on this later!), so now it's about fuelling up!
Winter really can sap the energy from you; your body is having to work harder to keep you at the necessary temperature to function, in sub-optimal conditions! Be kind to it! There is a huge amount of research around food energy, and a lot of it comes down to a matter of taste and personal preference. That said, slow release energy is great to start your day with. Think whole grains, complex carbohydrates and protein. What does that look like? For breakfast that could be the Scottish choice of champions...porridge, or maybe an omelette, or perhaps whole grain toast with eggs and beans...the list goes on. Find something that you enjoy and you're likely to bother having, after all there's no point trying to gulp down a bowl of porridge if you just can't stand the stuff! This is all about fuelling yourself for the day ahead, as a great foundation to having an enjoyable day out.
One meal isn't likely to sustain you though, so think little and often. Having easy to reach snacks is great as you'll be more inclined to make the effort to eat if you don't have to faff around too much. Remember though, food freezes! It's not much fun reaching for that trusty treat bar* (*insert your favourite chocolate bar of choice!) only to find that it's frozen solid and inedible! It's also important to consider that the conditions on the hill aren't conducive to fiddly wrappers. Cold, gloved hands, wind, rain and annoying little wrappers can end in frustration and litter - neither of which anyone wants. Think ahead and bag up your own, personally concocted trail mix (combos of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate drops...whatever you want). Don't rely on sweets and chocolates to get you through the day though. Whilst these are undoubtedly a welcome treat and burst of energy, that enthusiasm is short lived with a little sugar crash chasing up behind. They're a great addition, but shouldn't be your sole source of food for the day. This is about solid nutrition and energy.
Keep hydrated. It's not always obvious how much we sweat so make a point of having an insulated, easily accessible water bottle to hand. It's also a huge boost to have a flask of hot drink with you.
Use dry bags to keep your kit as dry as possible. Consider using multiple coloured dry bags, it allows you to access things quickly with the minimum of fuss. It should also save that horrible moment, when you're trying to drag that spare top from the bottom of your bag, resulting in the entire contents of your pack exploding out, getting caught in the wind and scattering itself across the hillside, lost forever. We've all been there!
We've mentioned having spare layers packed, but we haven't covered things like hats and gloves. It's a wise idea to have more pairs of gloves packed than you think you'll need. They don't take up much room, or tip the scales, and having the reassurance that you always have a dry set of gloves and a hat/balaclava is worth it. Some people also like to have a pair of heavy duty, super warm, water proof mitts or gloves stashed away to help at the end of the day, particularly if it's been an especially cold, wet day.