There’s a quiet beauty that takes over nature during the winter. Glimmering frost blankets the greenery; many of the wilderness’ inhabitants are at rest—but not you. You want to enjoy the fun and exhilaration of a cold-weather trek. However, staying safe, warm, and comfortable needs to be your top priority. Discover what you should bring on your next cold-weather hiking trip to help you enjoy nature to its fullest and be the avid adventurer you are.
What To Wear
How many layers you wear depends on how cold it will be and whether there’ll be any wind or snow. You can get away with a warm double-layer thermal under your coat and pants in some instances, but in others, that’s a quick recipe for hypothermia. As a general rule, thermal underwear, a mid-layer, and an outer layer or weather-proof shell should comprise your layering system. You can mix and match depending on the area’s climate.
Your thermal layer will keep sweat away from your body and allow it to evaporate, while your mid layer—which you can double up—will maintain your body heat. Typically, your mid-layer consists of something breathable yet insulted, like down or fleece. Your outer layer will prevent snow or rain from penetrating your other layers.
Grab the Right Gear
The kind of gear you’ll need depends on your hike’s length—the longer you’re in the wilderness, the more you’ll need. However, your goal should always be to pack light. If you’re trekking in an area with no snow, or light snow, you can get away with the basics. An extra pair of dry clothes, a lighter, an emergency blanket, a first aid kit, a knife, a map, an emergency whistle, and trekking poles should do the trick. However, if snow is covering the ground or it’s actively snowing, you’ll need more than the basics. A pack cover will protect your backpack from inclement weather; you should also bring a first aid kit, snowshoes, and microspikes.
Further, if you get above the tree line, crampons, an ice axe, and an avalanche beacon are all must-haves. If you plan on spending a few days outdoors, shelter, foam pads, high-calorie food, insulated water bottles, a fire starter, and some form of water purification system are necessary. Ensure you research campfire rules and regulations for the area you’ll be hiking in so you can reduce the risk of a fire hazard.
It may seem like your pack is already fairly heavy, but there are a few other things that you should bring on your next cold-weather hiking trip. A warm hat, neck gaiters, tinted goggles, insulated gloves, and hand warmers will keep you comfortable and your eyes safe from snow blindness and protect your extremities. You can bring a water bladder, but if it’s too cold, it will likely freeze, so keep the temperature in mind before you decide to bring one. If you plan on hiking at night, a headlamp, flashlights, and extra batteries never hurt anyone. Lastly, sunscreen is a must, as snow is highly reflective, increasing your risk for sunburn.
Now that you know what to pack for your next winter romp, you’re ready to take on the world—wind, rain, snow, or shine!