I live in a hot and humid part of India, and plan to vacation for a week at one of the hill-stations close to the Himalayas, to experience snow for the first time. This might involve a bit of light hiking.

To not keep the topic too broad, my questions are about:
1. Handling the cold
2. Options for food and drink
3. Being prepared for snow

Handling the cold:
Not being accustomed to cold and not having much of a fat deposit beneath my skin, what would be the basic warm clothing required? I'm guessing thermal tops, long johns, wollen sweater, jacket, wollen socks and normal leather boots would be the basics (am basically looking to purchase boots that I can use in the snow and then use it back at my hometown, with formal wear so that it wouldn't be a waste of money). Would mittens, muffler and monkey cap be necessary too?
When shopping, should I give preference to wollen clothing or ones made with fleece?
If I get close to catching a fever or catch a cold, is it a sign that I should get out of the hilly areas ASAP?

Options for food and drink:
What kinds of food naturally keep the body warm (I heard peanuts do) and what to avoid? I'm considering carrying a bottle of curd too, as it gives energy for physically demanding times. This website mentions bread with peanut butter and dry fruits. As for drinks, I guess only water in a thermos flask would be ideal? What about soft drinks (sugar = carbohydrates)? Would carrying packets of soup powder or instant noodles be good if I can find a place to heat water and prepare soup?

Being prepared for snow:
I understand I shouldn't walk on snow with a jeans pant, since it'd get wet from the snow. Since I have a two piece raincoat (one piece as a pant and the other piece like a large jacket), would it be advisable to wear the raincoat pant over the jeans pant and tuck it into the boot?
Would there be any issues wearing a thin money pouch below all those layers of clothing?

Location Update:
A possible trek in Jan to Triund or Dhanaulti or Shimla or Manali.

  • 2
    Getting boots that look good for formal wear but have the studs and/or deep ridges you need to walk on snow and ice would be difficult. Nov 24 '16 at 15:31
  • 4
    What kind of temperatures are we talking, around freezing or substantially lower? Nov 24 '16 at 15:46
  • 1
    If wanting to not spend/waste money, see if you can rent proper hiking and cold weather equipment.
    – Max
    Nov 24 '16 at 16:25
  • 1
    Food and drink is easy: Anything warm will warm you up. Hence hot tea, hot chocolate, etc. The rest is rather opinion-based in my opinion.
    – Jan
    Nov 24 '16 at 16:59
  • 1
    I'll be rubbing oil on my head. Hope that'll help prevent heat and moisture loss. I don't think Kendall Mint Cake is available in India, but am considering Chikkis: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chikki
    – Nav
    Nov 25 '16 at 7:16

Cold is easier to tackle than Hot; you can just add more layers.

The most important thing is to keep dry; buy/rent water and wind proof equipment.

Prefer buying a lightweight coat under which you can add layers (t-shirt, long sleeve, sweater...) instead of a big bulky coat.

You can also get boot covers that will protect the lower part of your pants if walking in the snow.

Mittens vs. Gloves: Mittens are warmer (and cheaper) at the cost of a loss in dexterity.

Mufflers ? don't know about that.

Money belt, why not; not a big issue; just keep some loose change in easy to access pockets so you do not have to remove all your cloths to get to it.

Food: Just eat what you are used to eat when you are in town; hot food is always comforting but not practical when hiking; get granola bars (nuts, chocolate...) they keep well, and can help you get some energy into you if getting hungry before getting a proper meal.

Soup Powder? yes, soup is good, but will you have access to hot/boiling water ? that is the question.

Drinks: Water is always the best choice, if seriously hiking, maybe a "sport drink" can help in the long run.; hot chocolate/chai is comforting

If doing day-hiking (get back to the hotel each night) , your best bet is to only bring dried food (nuts, granola bars, chocolate, dried fruits); don't bother with soup powder, noddles... accesss to hot water will be problematic.

  • One problem with renting seems to be cheating and sub-standard products: manalishimlaexpert.com/manali/rohtang-snow-charges.html.
    – Nav
    Nov 24 '16 at 17:11
  • Second the bit of layers. I've spent basically my whole life in hot desert climates (so we get cold winter nights--but with heat in the house so we don't experience much of that) but I've been in some pretty cold places. The answer is layers so you can add as needed. At least one should be windproof. -30C with adequate clothes, no problem. (Now, the altitude was another matter....) Nov 25 '16 at 0:37
  • Thanks for the helpful answer Max. I had asked the question for two reasons. To know best practices and to confirm my assumptions. Some of the assumptions remain unanswered. The ones about curd, mufflers, mittens, soup powder, money pouch.
    – Nav
    Nov 25 '16 at 7:18
  • I don't know what curd is in that context. ?
    – Max
    Nov 25 '16 at 14:03
  • Sorry about the confusion. Am surprised at the Wikipedia entry for curd. In India curd (similar to yogurt) or 'dahi' is: made by boiling and cooling the milk to 30-40°C and adding a spoonful of curd. Now curd has lactic acid bacteria or lactobacillus. This bacteria multiplies itself in the ambient temperature of 30-40°C and in few hours ferments the milk to form curd. Mufflers are a part of winter clothing that's wrapped around the neck: ureadthis.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Winter-Muffler.jpeg
    – Nav
    Nov 25 '16 at 14:58

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