When it comes to hiking in the winter, it takes a little more preparation and clothing to withstand the snow and cold. Often I look forward to winter hiking, there are no bugs and less shrubbery. The tradeoff is cold and damp weather, but it does offer a whole new terrain to explore. Some of the best hiking can be done in the winter. It offers stunning snow views and beautiful icy landscapes. If you are planning to get out and explore some winter hiking areas make sure you have the proper gear. Here is the gear I like to bring.
Having the right gear when winter hiking can keep you warm and safe. If you are planning to just go for a day hike you should still consider taking some extra gear, just in case. I often take a backpack with gear and warm clothing. It can come in handy. Many times I am in a remote location and if the weather turns it is always nice to have an extra hat, gloves, or scarf to keep you warm.
What Gear to Consider for a Winter Hike
Clothing is probably the most important thing to consider. When I winter hike, I like to dress in layers. It allows you to shed clothing when you work up a sweat and add them back on when you get cold. It is a great way to keep you from getting hypothermia. Let’s look at what one should wear.
In cold conditions having a base layer is essential. It will keep your core warm and help wick your sweat away from your body. I generally wear a base layer every time I go winter hiking or snowshoeing. It consists of a thermal-layer long sleeve shirt with thumb holes, wool socks, and thermal bottoms. If the conditions are really cold, I will put on two pairs of socks.
Thermal Long Sleeve Shirt with Thumb Holes
The second layer consists of a warm fleece pullover with a high zip collar. This layer will keep your upper body nice and warm. The high zip collar will also keep your neck from freezing.
Hands and fingers are the areas that will get the coldest. Investing in a good set of gloves will keep you warm. I like to wear a pair of glove liners under my gloves. This ensures maximum warmth and is great to work with when bulky gloves get in the way. You can take off your main pair of gloves and use the glove liners to start a fire or ignite the cookset for a hot meal or cup of tea.
A good winter hat is a must on a winter hike. Most of your body’s heat loss is from the head. Having a warm hat is a necessity.
Hooded Face Mask Neck Warmer
A hooded face mask will keep your neck and face warm during windy conditions. This has come in handy many times during a snowstorm. Especially if you hike on or by a lake. The wind can really start whipping and you will be glad you wore this on your winter hike.
Your top layer is the final layer of your clothing. It will keep you wind and watertight. This consists of a good quality winter jacket, winter hiking pants, and waterproof hiking boots. You want to make sure you stay warm and dry.
Winter Hiking Pants
Kahtoola Micro Spikes
If the conditions are icy and in most cases, they will be, I always carry my Kahtoola Microspikes with me. Microspikes are removable foot spikes that just slide around your boots. The traction is unbelievable on these spikes. They are easy to take on and off. I would highly recommend these for hiking in the winter.
Gaiters are excellent for keeping your legs warm and dry. They basically wrap around your calf and boots to protect them from the elements. Gaiters also work well for protecting your legs from the low brush. I always put mine on before any winter hike.
I generally carry my backpack with me on every hike. It has all of the extra things I like to have with me, like a knife, emergency kit, cookset, fire starter kit, stove, food, water bottle, binoculars, and an extra winter hat and pair of gloves.
Winter hiking can be fun and challenging. If you love to hike and never tried winter hiking because it is too cold, get outside and give it a try. You have no more excuses now that you have the gear listed in this article. Also by having the proper gear, it can make your winter hike an enjoyable and safe one. So get out and explore some trails this winter!