Essential Winter Hiking Gear
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Winter hiking can be enjoyable, no seriously, it can - if you have the right gear. You’ll get to see landscapes usually unseen by most people. The icy chill of winter hiking tends to turn people off, but with the right gear to keep you warm you’ll be on your way to spectacular adventures. With the help of some of my favorite lady bloggers we’ve compiled a list of essential winter hiking gear to help you get out and explore.
submitted by Allison from She Dreams of Alpine
An absolutely essential piece of winter hiking gear is a super-cozy down jacket. When you’re going on a cold hike you will definitely want one of these on hand for when you stop to take breaks and enjoy high-altitude views. The type of down jacket you buy really depends on the kind of weather you will be encountering on your hike. If you plan on hiking anywhere that will be fairly cold, purchasing a good down jacket will be one of your best winter hiking investments. It’s also great to carry a down jacket in case of emergency. So save up, and invest in down. It’s lightweight, and will keep you warm better than other materials. A down jacket is an essential day hiking gear for any winter adventure!
Fleece Buff Headband
submitted by Jamie from Photo Jeepers
Fleece Buff headbands are a must for us when hiking during the winter. There is soft fleece on one side and a colorful fabric on the other. The fabric is breathable, wicks moisture and dries quickly. I have multiple headbands and use them in a variety of ways depending on the weather. I can use it as a band to cover my ears. I can use it as a hat to cover my head. And I can use a second as a neck gaiter. The fleece Buff headbands are on my cold weather gear checklist.
HotHands Hand Warmers
Submitted by Jillian Michelle from Adventure Dragon
When I go hiking in the winter, I always have to carry hand warmers with me. I get cold incredibly easily, and when I'm cold, I quickly become miserable. That can easily ruin a hike. The hand warmers I use are little packets that fit into your gloves and radiate heat for hours. The ones I buy are called HotHands Hand Warmers, and you can purchase a multi-pack bundle of them on Amazon. They begin warming up as soon as you open the package and will keep your hands warm for an entire hike. I love them!
submitted by Marge DQ from DQ Travel
My Columbia Sportswear black fleece vest is my go-to layer when hiking in the winter. In addition to its warmth, it has a high collar which helps keep my neck warm on colder days. It also has two side pockets for storage and one small zip pocket on the chest. To me, this is the perfect mid layer over a performance long sleeve as it is not too thin nor too bulky. If it gets too warm, all I have to do is unzip the vest, and instant cool down. This vest is an essential part of my winter hiking gear due to its versatility, warmth, and style.
Waterproof Pack Cover
submitted by Laura from Two Stay Wild
If your bag doesn’t already come with one built in, a good quality waterproof rain cover is an essential for hiking in winter. We have this one (pictured above) from Lowe Alpine. It packs down to a compact size and comes with a drawstring so it can fit over a multitude of bag shapes and sizes. Mine covers my bag + two roll mats attached on either side.
If it isn’t sheltering your bag from the rain, it comes in pretty handy as a waterproof picnic blanket to stop you getting a muddy behind. We managed to fit four people onto ours whilst hiking with our pals in Kyrgyzstan. If you’re camping and need to store your bigger bag outside of the inner tent compartment, it acts as a good layer between the ground and your bag, stopping the dampness of the ground seeping in. No one likes the feeling of putting on a soggy bag first thing in the morning.
Waterproof Hiking Boots
submitted by Jackie from Life of Doing
One of the best hiking accessories that everyone needs to have is a good pair of waterproof hiking boots. These comfortable and sturdy boots usually cost on the higher end and well worth the premium. You never know when you’ll come across snow, rain, mud, or wet conditions during your hiking trail. The waterproof technology (ie: GORE-TEX or eVENT) and the supportive rubber sole (ie: Vibram or Keen) makes you feel invincible as you walk through rivers, snow, or any challenging terrain. The most important part is that your feet and socks are protected and dry for hours.
We used our waterproof hiking boots during our Mount Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania. They helped a lot through the unpredictable weather and provided the perfect amount of support throughout the climb. Some of our favorite hiking boots are Vasque Breeze 2.0 and Lowa Renegade, and these have lasted us for years!
submitted by Gem from A Girl and her Dog on the Road
I am currently based in Courmayeur in the Italian Alps. I love to get out into the mountains to hike no matter what the weather. My Gaiters have become an essential bit of kit, especially in the winter months when the snow regularly comes up over my boots.
Regardless of how well fitting and waterproof you think your boots are there always seems to be a stray pebble, a clump of snow or a splash of muddy puddle water that manages to sneak in. My gaiters fit snugly over the top of my boot and then keep my leg, up to the base of my knee really dry. They are great for snowy weather conditions or for when walking through shallow streams or even just through long damp grass.
I am a messy walker and on muddy days, I always seem to scuff my opposite trouser leg with my boot, leaving muddy trail marks. My gaiters mean my trousers stay clean for longer.
submitted by Helene from Masala Herb
When we went hiking in the Indian Himalayas near the Tibet border, we were glad that we were wearing our Mammut Hardshell jackets. At 15000 foot, it started to snow heavily and those jackets kept us warm to the core while we were scrambling to get back to our hosts. A Hardshell jacket from Mammut comes at a price tag but it's worth every cent. They are sturdy, can take a wear and tear and create a layer that protects you from the elements. In fact, we even used them during heavy tropical monsoon weather. The jackets don't get soaked because oft he superior material, zip and seams.
And don’t’ forget about SNACKS!
Submitted by Lauren from The Ridgeline Report
An overlooked essential item for winter hiking is winter-friendly snack food. This is something I reinforce to hikers in my groups who are buying snacks for Kilimanjaro: in the cold, popular hiking snacks become problematic and inconvenient. Granola bars freeze, turning to bricks of flavor-less clay and chocolates become brittle slabs of shale. On top of that, taking off your mittens to unwrap packaging is a dreaded chore. Although the cold can suppress your appetite and thirst, it’s more important than ever to ensure you eat well and hydrate as you are burning more calories to keep warm. For snacks that work well when temperatures drop, try energy gummies. Honey Stinger gummies are a favorite, as well as Clif Bar Energy Chews Bloks and Gatorade Prime Energy Chews. To replace fluids at the same time, try the GU Energy Gel for a calorie and hydration combination. Finally, encourage yourself to drink by adding flavor and supplements to your water, like Nuun energy tablets. Not only do these all taste delicious, but they will keep you happy and healthy on the trails this winter.