Winter Hiking Tips

Hiking is an enjoyable activity in any weather. By following a few, simple winter hiking tips, you are in for a treat! These tips are designed to keep you safe, comfortable and going strong in a weather that scares off a lot of fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Since winter hiking has its very own set of rules and associated needs, it is a good idea to fully familiarize yourself with the suggested items you need. Make certain that they are serviceable and pack the night before the hike.
Winter Hiking Tips


Difficulty: Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Polypropylene long johns
  • Polypropylene t-shirt
  • Wind and water resistant fabric pants
  • Thin, long sleeved fleece shirt
  • Turtleneck sweater
  • Wind and water resistant fabric jacket
  • Balaclava (pictured above)
  • Sun goggles (pictured above)
  • All weather backpack
  • Thermos
  • Canteen
  • Food and water
  • Two pairs vapor barrier socks
  • Two pairs of gloves
  • Cold weather hiking boots
  • Plastic gaiters
Step 1
Dress in layers. Choose a number of clothing articles you can take off and put back on independently. Wear a pair of long johns made from polypropylene over which you wear a pair of pants made of a lightweight, water proof and breathable material. On top, start out with a short sleeved t-shirt---also made of polypropylene--top it with long sleeved thin fleece shirt, add a turtleneck sweater and finish up with a jacket made from wind and water resistant, durable, and breathable material.
Step 2
Remember to dress the head. Pick out a balaclava since it is perfect for keeping nose and ears protected from wind, snow and rain. It also prevents the heat loss from the head, which is a danger during longer winter hikes. Add sun goggles to protect your eyes from sunlight as well as wind.
Step 3
Choose a backpack made of breathable material. Avoid the sweaty back and the sore shoulders by investing in an all weather backpack made of breathable material. Carry a backpack that is large enough to carry essential items such as a thermos, canteen, excess clothing as you shed it along the winter hike, food, extra vapor barrier socks, extra gloves, and assorted odds and ends.
Step 4
Wear cold weather hiking boots and durable socks. Choose an insulated, water proof boot that is not made from leather but is instead made of a plastic and rubber combination. Leather freezes in winter weather, while plastic and rubber will not. You can make your already broken in leather boots work by waterproofing them with spray-on chemicals, but you might want to add plastic gaiters to add moisture resistance to your footwear. Dress your foot in vapor barrier socks to prevent excessive sweating that makes the inside of your boot slippery and uncomfortable.
Step 5
Bring food and water. Remember that during a winter hike your body burns more calories and requires more nourishment and water than it might during a summer hike. Bring plenty of food and plan on stopping frequently and replenishing your energy by eating moderately sized snacks. Plan on bringing along a gallon of drinking water; depending on the length of your hike, you might even drink more than that. If you keep a canteen in addition to the water supply in your backpack, carry the canteen upside down.

Tips & Warnings

Carry your canteen upside down on winter hikes. Water freezes in a bottle from the top down, and if you carry the canteen upside down, it is actually the bottom where the water freezes, not the mouth of the canteen.
Avoid cotton when choosing your clothes. When cotton gets wet, it takes a long time to dry. Wet cotton also freezes quickly and--whether it is sweat or simply moisture from snow or rain---becomes useless almost immediately for the hike.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

The Latest from the Community