Hiking Gear You Need for Winter Hikes

Just because there’s snow on the ground, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy great winter hikes. With the right winter hiking gear, you can enjoy bushcraft year-round. The cool weather offers many benefits – like fewer bugs, less brush and low shrubbery, and unique scenery and terrain. Here are some essential pieces of gear to help keep you warm and safe for your next winter trek.

Hiking Gear You Need for Winter Hikes

Winter Hiking Clothing – Dress in Layers

The key to staying warm on winter hikes is to dress in layers. When wearing layers, you remove layers as you heat up and put them back on as you cool down. In the winter, the key is to try to stay dry, and that includes not soaking your clothes in sweat.

A good starting point is to have three layers – a base layer, like thermals, a middle layer for warm, and then the winter jacket as the top layer. You’ll need to protect your hands, head, and feet from the cold.

  • Thermal Shirt and Bottoms
  • Wool Socks
  • Winter hat
  • Gloves
  • Fleece Jacket or Pullover
  • Winter Jacket
  • Winter Hiking Pants
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Hiking Pole

Keep in mind that for winter hikes, you want to avoid cotton. It takes too long to dry and will stay damp for longer, making you cooler. Avoid other wood fibers like rayon and modal as well.

Hiking in the Snow

If you’re hiking in snow, other considerations should be kept in mind. You’ll want additional gear to protect you from snow gear, ice, and other winter challenges.

  • Hooded Face Mask or Balaclava
  • Snow Goggles or Protective Eyewear
  • High Gaiters
  • Crampons or Snow Spikes
  • Ice Axe

The winter hiking gear we’ve mentioned here is in addition to your basic survival kit, which includes your fire starter kit, first aid kit, other bushcraft essential tools, etc. If you don’t have one yet, here are a few ideas to start putting together your first bushcraft hiking survival kit.

Hiking Gear You Need for Winter Hikes

The Best Winter Hiking Gear

Here are some of the things to look for when choosing your clothing and gear for winter hiking.

Thermal Shirt and Bottoms – Generally consisting of a long-sleeve shirt and long underwear, these are the main parts of your base layer. As mentioned earlier, avoid cotton. Look for fabric like wool or a synthetic fabric that will wick your sweat away from your skin, helping to keep you warmer.

Wool Socks – Protecting your toes from the cold, wool socks are the sock of choice for most hikers. They keep you warm while keeping your feet dry and less susceptible to cold.

Winter Hat – Did you know that most of your body heat escapes from your head? A warm winter hat is a must for winter hikes. Wool and fleece are popular choices of fabrics for winter hats.

Gloves – When hiking in the winter, it’s a good idea to carry two pairs of gloves. Your hands and fingers generally get the coldest. Look for a pair of warm, waterproof gloves, ideally with a glove liner you can swap out when it gets damp.

Fleece Jacket or Pullover – Making up your middle-layer, a fleece jacket or pullover will help wick away moisture from your base layer, helping to keep your upper body warm. Wool sweaters are another good option. 

Winter Jacket – The top or outer layer of our winter hiking outfit, it provides extra protection from the cold and wind. You’ll most likely wear it after your physical activities, when you aren’t generating as much heat. Look for a winter jacket with an integrated hood.

Winter Hiking Pants – Also part of the final later, these pants provide extra warmth for your legs. Ideally, they’ll be waterproof and windproof.

Waterproof Hiking Boots – Winter waterpoof hiking boots will provide more insulation than other boots. Sizing up a half or full size will give you extra room for when you wear thicker socks or a sock liner. Make sure your hiking boots are rated for the cold weather you’ll be hiking in.

Hiking Pole – Snowy terrain can be uneven. A hiking pole will helping you keep your balance while hiking in the snow.

Hopefully this list has provided a few ideas about what to wear for winter hiking. What do you enjoy about winter hiking?

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