As the thermostat starts plummeting, so does building up of excitement over a winter hike. Unless you want to freeze like a mummified zombie, dressing for the cold weather ahead to engross yourself with nature’s bounty deserves a lot of thought. When it comes to finding the best clothes for cold weather hiking, two things comes to mind– survival and layering. With survival as the main aim, layering your clothing or, to be precise, from head to foot must be considered.
From keeping you warm to protecting you from outdoor elements, layered clothing serves a variety of purpose. You need insulate yourself from the wet and the cold without overheating. To pump up your winter wonderland hike, here are the top 10 cold weather hiking clothes you shouldn’t go without.
1. Insulated Hooded Jacket or Parka. Keep a DriDown parka like this one from Sierra Designs Women’s Elite DriDown Hoody Jacket lline. You can wear over your layered clothing to stay toasty warm. Hooded jackets are awesome when it comes to hiking for a few hours in cold yet calm weather.
2. Hard Shell Jacket. If a parka is too bulky for you, a waterproof and windproof hard shell jacket like the Lanbaosi Women’s Lightweight Outdoor Shell Jacket. While it comes with a foolproof outer shell, it doesn’t have built-in insulation that can make you overly warm. They are best for hiking with high winds or sustained rainfall. It’s breathable with good ventilation without being too suffocating.
3. Hard Shell or Soft Shell Pants. Depending on the weather condition, you can opt to wear either a soft-shell or a hard-shell pants when out and about. Hardshell pants like the ICEWEAR Njáll 3 Layer Hard Shell Pants below is both windproof and waterproof making them great for snow or during a torrential downpour. Soft-shell pants, on the other hand, is more form-fitting and breathable than its hard-shell counterpart. It is wind and water- resistant but not waterproof or windproof though.
4. Base Layer. When it comes to choosing a base layer insulation clothing against the cold dreary weather, always opt for wool or synthetic material. From long-sleeved jersey to underwear, this type of clothing dries faster and wicks sweat away from your body to ensure insulation. Choosing between lightweight and thin layer over heavier ones is a matter of personal preference though. This Ekouaer Womens Thermal Underwear Set Henley Base Layer Stretch Top & Bottom below makes an excellent option.
5. Mid-Layer Clothing. There are a lot of options when it comes to mid-layer insulation for cold weather hiking clothes. You can have a wool or fleece jacket, a pullover or perhaps, a vest. This Salomon Women’s Panorama HZ Midlayer Jacket, for instance, can be augmented with a waterproof/windproof hard-shell jacket for utmost warmth when out for a snow hike.
6. Hand Protection. Wear gloves when out and about during cold weather conditions. Some hikers with sweaty hands usually bring 3 or more pairs. While mitts may bring more warmth, gloves allow improved dexterity. Do remember to steer clear of leather ones as they can absorb water and freeze. This Marmot Glide Softshell Glove makes a great choice.
7. Head Gear. Your choice of hat for a cold weather hike will also matter– a lot. A lightweight synthetic or wool one will be great for lighter hikes while a heavier one is a must when the thermostat go down low. This Jnr Knitted & Polar Hat Buff makes an excellent pick. Pair this with a thermal neck fleece gaiter and you’re good to go.
8. Footsie Protection. Don’t forget those waterproof hiking boots. While this may not be considered “clothes”, you simply can’t go out hiking in the cold without wearing anything to protect your footsies from frostbites. This KEEN Women’s Hoodoo III Winter Boot makes a great option. So does vast choices of Salomon boots for winter hiking fun. Note: Choose one size higher to make room for warm socks and wiggle room for circulation.
9. Warm Socks. Don’t forget to wear socks under your winter boots though. This Century Star Women’s Winter Soft Vintage Wool Socks (Pack of 5) is a budget-friendly option. Blister prone hikers may also do good with sock liners.
10. Traction Aids. Do remember to wearing traction aids to your boots when hiking on snowy conditions. These kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction, for instance, keep you stable preventing any slips and fall.
There is more to the best clothes for cold weather hiking than just being stylish. Keep in mind that hiking style during the cold dreary months, particularly in the winter, primarily means layered comfort and protection from the harsh elements of nature. So choose your gear well, keep warm and have fun.