The weather is unpredictable, so what you wear hiking can be just as big of a factor of how much fun and how safe the hike is.

Taking time to plan your cold-weather hiking trip ahead of time is very important because it means you can pack the necessary items that will help you stay safe and comfortable during your hike, and that might even make the hike more fun with less worry.

This article will guide you on how to dress for a cold-weather day out on the trail.

Essential Winter Hiking Gear List

What to wear hiking in cold weather by hikingrange.com
  • Gloves
  • HeadBand
  • Warm Insulating Jacket
  • Fleece Lined Pants
  • Sturdy Boots or Hiking Shoes (not flip flops)
  • Wool Socks (multiple pairs for warmth)
  • Thermal Underwear
  • Warm Hat and Earmuffs
  • Backpack to carry all your winter gear
  • Sunscreen (you will be outside for longer)
  • Snack/Lunch (You’ll work up an appetite on the trail)
  • First Aid Kit and extra supplies in case of emergencies (extra layers, socks, gloves, food etc.)

Tips For What To Wear Hiking In Cold Weather

What to wear hiking in cold weather by hikingrange.com
  •  Keep your head and ears warm, but don’t let the hood of your jacket block your peripheral vision.
  • Wear mittens instead of finger gloves (finger gloves can get wet more easily). Mittens are warmer than gloves.
  • If you’re hiking during a snowfall, remember that snow can soak through your clothing and shoes. So dress in layers and take extra clothing to wear on the top half of your body.
  • Remember that cotton does not dry as fast as wool or synthetic fibers. So pick a water-resistant or waterproof jacket and pants if you want to stay warm when it’s wet out.
  • When you are going out hiking, make sure you have enough layers.
  • Staying safe and having fun is what it’s all about. So dress accordingly!

How To Layer For Cold Hiking

The layering of clothes is an important part of dressing for a cold-weather hike.

Layers work well because they allow you to control your temperature by taking off or putting on layers. Layers are also good at trapping dead air, which helps keep you warm and dry if it gets wet out.

The first layer should be a top that wicks away moisture from the body. The idea behind this is that the moisture will evaporate quickly and keep you dry, which means that your top layer won’t feel cold and clammy.

The second layer should be a lightweight insulation jacket to trap dead air. If it’s very cold or windy outside, you’ll need to wear more than one insulating layer.

The third layer should be a shell or an outer windbreaker that is both water-resistant and windproof. Remember, if it’s very cold, you’ll need more than just one layer to protect yourself from the drop in temperature.

The fourth layer should be another top to wear over your insulating jacket, which will again wick away moisture from your body.

If you get too hot or sweaty, it’s easy to remove layers or open up zippers and flaps. This allows you to more easily control your temperature depending on how fast or hard you are hiking, whether the sun is out and if it is wet outside. 

Also, remember to carry a hat as well because that will too help control your body temperature.

What to wear hiking in cold weather by hikingrange.com

And finally, during winter, sunscreen and lip balm are essential items to have with you on the hiking trail, so don’t forget those!

Keeping warm in cold weather while hiking is a combination of wearing the right clothes and not missing any steps in preparing for the hike. Remember that if it’s really cold outside, do not wear cotton because it will not dry as fast and you’ll get wet.

If it is windy out, you should probably put a rain shell over your other layers unless the insulation layer is waterproof itself. If it’s raining too, then make sure all parts of your clothing are water-resistant or else you’re going to get wet and freeze.

When you are hiking, make sure to wear a good pair of waterproof boots or shoes if it is rainy out. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Hiking in the cold weather during winter can be very rewarding because there is less chance of any insects being around as well you seeing a lot more wildlife. However, you will need to prepare for winter hiking by carrying more layers and clothing items with you to keep yourself warm while on the trail.

So remember, wear layers, and take a waterproof shell jacket as well! Always keep in mind that if you stay dry, then you’ll feel warmer even during the coldest weather. 

And finally, don’t forget to bring some warm clothes for after your hiking trip because otherwise, you’ll be uncomfortable when you get back to the parking lot.

So What Should I Wear While Hiking

What to wear hiking in cold weather by hikingrange.com

When it comes to how many clothes you need, think about how much you can cover and how warm you want to be.

At the absolute minimum, make sure that all of your fingers and toes are covered in something thin but very waterproof (such as polypropylene). Make sure to wear a hat or hood under your helmet. I prefer an insulated hat with ear flaps for how to stay warm on the trail.

Waterproof footwear is a must for how to keep your feet dry safely and how to avoid blisters.

For how to stay warm on the trail, you will need pants that zip off into shorts or ones that are adjustable in length for how much freedom of movement you want out of how to wear hiking pants. Avoid denim jeans!

Final words:

Remember, cold weather hiking requires a lot more planning and preparation than warm weather hiking. And finally, don’t be afraid to hike alone if you are comfortable with that because of how to stay safe on the trail.

Enjoy your hike!