Know What Wind Speed Means For Your Hillwalking Safety

Get The Knowledge – Wind (With Grateful Thanks To Russell Mills of Mountain Trails)


High wind is the real game changer when out in the hills.
Cold and wet weather can be dealt with by adequate clothing and equipment, but strong winds mean you may have to change your plans. Here is an assessment of the effect of wind on your ability to move effectively and safely, and how best to deal with it.

Wind speed in km/hr

Effect on you

What should you do?

Less than 20


Continue as planned


Unlikely to affect your balance or control. At these windspeeds in winter a temperature of 0C will have an equivalent wind chill of around   -10C.

Add an extra warm layer.
Prevent small items from blowing loose.
Goggles will be useful in winter conditions.


You will begin to feel the buffeting effect of the wind. Progress into a head wind will become more laboured. It will be harder to maintain your balance when walking.

Keep way from steep and exposed ridge lines. Secure your map and tie down loose clothing and secure toggles to prevent them whipping around.


Walking will become more difficult. Energy output will be significantly increased. Expect a greater risk of being blown sideways and off balance.

Consider changing your route to avoid a head or cross wind. Be prepared to shorten the day. Check companions for signs of hypothermia and frost nip, particularly in winter.
Navigation will become more difficult.


Walking will become very challenging. There is a strong chance of being blown off your feet.

Link arms with weaker members of your group. Try to move between the worst gusts. Get off the hill by the safest and easiest route keeping away from steep windward drops.


As above

If you must venture out in these conditions then keep to the valley floor.