Hiking in cold weather can be a challenge. The risk of injury, getting lost, and other outdoor dangers are increased when the temperature drops.
Depending on where you live, winter can mean freezing conditions or something slightly less harsh, like below-freezing temperatures with rain or snow. Either way, having the right gear is crucial to enjoying the trail, even in winter.
Best winter hiking gear options include:
Warm Hiking Boots or Shoes
Waterproof, insulated boots are a must for winter hiking. While you can get away with wearing full rubber-bottomed boots if it’s not too cold, they’re not preferable because the insulation is essential in preventing frostbite and keeping your feet in good shape.
Wool or Synthetic Socks
You’ll want wool or synthetic sock that can wick away moisture from your feet. Moisture from sweat and outside sources leads to blisters which are especially dangerous in winter because of the increased risk of frostbite. You can use a pair of thin liner socks underneath a heavy-duty exterior sock made of wool or synthetic materials.
Snowshoes are either attached to or slipped over your winter boots. They act like snow tires for your feet, spreading out the weight of each step you take to prevent sinking into deep snow and help you stay on top of packed trails.
Gaiters are essentially enclosed envelopes made to fit around your calves. They typically fasten with adjustable straps or clips. While not required when hiking in the woods, gaiters are helpful for winter hikes because they can prevent snow from entering your boots and getting in between your socks and boots where it will eventually melt, causing blisters.
Shell layers should be breathable so your sweat doesn’t get trapped against your skin and should also be treated with a water-resistant coating that will prevent snow from soaking through.