The Ultimate Guide for Winter Hiking Gear - FITS®

December 30, 2021

Winter hiking is an exhilarating experience. This ultimate guide for winter outdoor hiking gear will ensure that the cold doesn't get the best of you when enjoying and exploring the outdoors.

Winter Outdoor Hiking Gear: Layers

When hiking during the winter months, it's essential to wear layers of clothing. Base layer clothing is closest to your skin, like undergarments and an under-shirt. This layer is designed to wick sweat off your skin and keep you warm.

The middle layer is the insulating layer and is ideally lightweight, quick-drying, and packable. This layer is designed to retain body heat to protect you from the cold. Fleece and puffy jackets are a great choice.

The outer layer is considered the “shell” layer and consists of simple windbreakers to extreme mountaineering jackets. This layer is designed to shield you from wind and rain. Whether choosing wind jackets or softshells, the goal should be breathable and waterproof garments.

Winter Outdoor Hiking Gear: Full Body Coverage

To eliminate exposing your skin to the elements, you need full-body outdoor hiking gear, starting with your head and ears. A winter hat, beanie, or earmuffs can get the job done. Also, consider a neck gaiter to provide coverage for your nose, cheeks, and ears as well. When it comes to your hands, wearing lightweight fleece gloves under waterproof shell mittens is a great idea. We suggest packing an extra pair of gloves if the ones you’re wearing get wet.

Keeping your feet dry while winter hiking is just as important. Merino wool socks are made with moisture-wicking properties that keep your feet warm and comfortable even when the elements are harsh. For optimal performance and breathability, try the Medium Top Drawer - Crew. These merino wool socks offer excellent thermal insulation and moisture control. 

The Medium Rugged - Crew is another excellent choice when you insist on getting out during the cold winter months. These socks control moisture while keeping you comfortably warm. Plus, the nylon exterior provides maximum durability and abrasion resistance, enabling you to stay outside longer. Be sure to wear a pair of insulated waterproof boots with thick soles over your socks for optimal warmth. Thinking ahead, it's a good idea to pack a second pair of socks, should something happen and your boots get wet. 

Winter Outdoor Hiking Gear: The Checklist

Planning ahead can ensure you stay safe and enjoy all that nature offers when hiking during the winter months. Here’s a checklist to make your next trip an enjoyable one.

  • Hand-warmer and toe-warmer packets - This is especially important for those with Raynaud's disease, which causes fingers and toes to feel numb and cold in response to low temperatures experienced during winter hiking.
  • Goggles or sunglasses and sunscreen - You need to protect your eyes and skin from the wind and sun even though it’s cold.
  • Headlamp and batteries - Always be prepared to hike in the dark should the trip go longer than expected.
  • GPS, cell phone, or personal locator beacon - Should you bring electronics, pack them in a pocket close to your body.
  • First aid kit -  When hitting any trail, it’s a good idea to pack a first aid kit.
  • Extra food and water - Better safe than sorry, which makes packing extra food and water an excellent idea.
  • Fire matches, lighter, or stove - There’s no doubt that winter can throw some curveballs, and packing these items could come in handy.
  • Shelter - If you need to hunker down and wait out a storm.
  • Gear repair kit and knife - So that you have them if you need them.

The more prepared you are for your winter hiking trip, the more enjoyable it will be. Socks are an integral part of outdoor hiking gear, and you can find all the hiking socks you need at FITS®. Check out our collection of Men’s Hiking Socks and Women’s Hiking Socks to ensure your next winter hike is a warm one.