Cold weather doesn’t mean that you need to abandon the trails!
Your hike in the winter just requires a little bit of extra preparation than packing for a day hike in warmer weather.
It can also be a good time to take up snowshoeing!
What are the best clothes to wear when hiking in cold weather?!
Different people have a different tolerance to cold, so just like running in cold weather, it might take a few times of hiking in cold weather to really figure out what works best for you and how you want to dress when it comes to winter hiking.
But you may want to pack extra layers just in case, because getting hot is a slightly better problem to have when you’re out hiking than it is to get cold.
At least if you get too hot you can take off layers, but if you get too cold that’s really not good if you don’t have any extra clothes to make you warmer.
Cold weather can be dangerous!
So, here’s some hiking gear that you may want to put on your winter hiking clothes list.
There are affiliate links below. Because you should totally check out some of these things on Amazon.
1. Moisture-wicking base layer shirt
When you’re hiking, this could be the most important piece of clothing you wear.
Since you’ll be active, it means that you WILL sweat.
What this means is that you want to minimize the impact of that sweat as you hike.
One of the best ways you can do that is by choosing the right shirt to wear that lines your skin.
And that would be a moisture-wicking shirt.
The moisture that’s being wicked away is your sweat.
You really want to avoid wearing cotton since cotton material will just soak up your sweat and really do nothing with it.
So with a tech t-shirt, you can minimize the sweat so it would soak through your other layers of clothing as easily.
Whether you want to make this base layer a short sleeve shirt or a long sleeve shirt can be personal preference, and it can also depend on the air temperature too.
2. Fleece insulating layer
So when you dress in layers in cold weather, each layer can serve a different purpose.
The main purpose of the base layer is to make it so your sweat will have the least amount of impact as possible when you’re hiking.
And then on top of the base layer, you can have a kind of insulating layer.
The goal of this layer would basically be to trap the warm air that’s close to your skin, and you also would ideally want this layer to be somewhat breathable.
Another looser tech t-shirt similar to the base layer could work, as could a fleece jacket if it’s on the colder side.
It really depends on the temperature you’ll be hiking in too.
3. Hiking jacket
The hiking jacket will be the outer layer, and the main purpose of this layer in the winter could be the block out the wind.
It would also be ideal if it’s somewhat waterproof.
4. Moisture-wicking base layer tights
Well, this layering system isn’t just for the upper body, and it can be good to use it for the lower body too.
Your legs might not get as sweaty as your upper body, but you still want to help to minimize the sweat for your lower body too with moisture-wicking tights.
5. Hiking pants or ski pants
Depending on how cold it is, you may want to wear an extra pair of looser tights too.
For the outer layer, ski pants or snow pants can work well.
They can work to block out wind, and they can be water-resistant too.
If it’s not too cold, you might be good with a pair of tights and hiking pants too.
6. Moisture-wicking underwear
You want to minimize sweat on all parts of your body!
7. Wool socks
Wool socks can not only be good for keeping your feet warm, but they can also be good for preventing blisters.
Blisters are caused by friction from sweaty feet, and merino wool socks can help to minimize that friction.
If it’s really cold, you might consider wearing more than one pair of socks.
You can also try regular athletic socks as a “liner” pair of socks, and then wear the wool socks over them.
Athletic socks are better than regular cotton socks since they are designed to be more breathable and moisture-wicking.
If you are layering up on your socks, just keep in mind that it might mean you need to adjust the laces of your shoes for the thicker socks.
You’ll also want to make sure you don’t layer your feet up so much that you’re reducing the amount of wiggle room for your feet in your shoes to nothing.
Depending on the type of trail, gaiters can be good to wear whether it’s winter or summer.
In summer, they go over your shoes to keep loose gravel, dirt, and pebbles out of your shoes.
In winter, they can go over your shoes to keep snow out of your shoes if you’re walking through deeper snow.
You really don’t want snow inside your shoes because that snow can quickly turn to cold water from the warmth of your feet.
Not only can that become uncomfortable, but it can be potentially dangerous since that can create a situation for cold toes!
There are varying lengths of gaiters.
You can get shorter ones that go to just above the ankle, and you can get longer ones that go up a bit higher.
About that snowshoeing!
Beginner-friendly snowshoes make a great gift too!
There are national snowshoeing races, and check with your local running store to see if they know of any local races.
HAPPY WINTER HIKING!