Hiking in winter is a fantastic way to see a different side of the great outdoors. It's usually quieter and calmer, but it's also a lot colder and knowing what to wear or carry if you are willing to brave these low temperatures can be tricky. Safe to say, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that heading out in the winter months is simply not worth the hassle.
However, there's no need to retreat back indoors at the first sight of a bit of rain or frost - you just need to make sure that you have the basics sorted and something to sleep in, sleep on and sleep under. Layering properly and adding a couple of winter staples to your wardrobe will also stand you in good stead to get out there in the cold. Here's what to wear hiking in winter.
Winter Hiking Boots
If summer is all about wearing footwear that keeps your feet sweat and blister-free, winter is all about staying dry and warm. A high-quality pair of winter hiking boots is exactly what you will need to achieve this. Prioritise boots constructed with GORE-TEX technology to benefit from complete waterproofing and opt for sturdy, slip-resistant soles to stay safe should you be out and about in icy or snowy conditions. Many of our pairs of LOWA boots are kitted out with the features needed from a good pair of winter hiking boots, so check out the full range if you're not sure where to start.
Winter Hiking Trousers
While we're on the subject of the lower half of your body, it's important that you wear the right trousers when hiking in winter. Opt for a pair of winter hiking trousers that are windproof and waterproof to keep you covered if you are lucky enough to get caught in the rain. If it's really cold, layer up with a thermal base layer underneath and add a pair of gaiters on top to guarantee that the elements will stay well away from each step you take.
Winter or Waterproof Socks
Don't forget your socks! Standard hiking socks might do a job in the Spring and Summer months, but when it comes to Autumn/Winter you will want something a bit thicker and possibly knee-length. Waterproof socks are an additional choice, as they add an extra layer of defence against cold and wet conditions. This helps to prevent discomfort as well as more serious issues like trench foot or frostbite that become more common in the Winter.
Beanie or Headband
A lot of body heat can be lost through your head so it's important to make sure that you are quite literally wrapped up from head to toe in Winter. There are different items of clothing that you can wear to achieve this and your choice might depend on a number of factors: what you find comfortable, your hairstyle, and your own sense of style. Beanies and headbands are both popular choices, providing an extra and cosy layer that keeps your head at a comfortable temperature and keeps chilly winds away from your ears. Worried about overheating? Find a beanie or headband that is made from a moisture-wicking fabric such as merino wool.
Cold hands can also quickly turn a pleasant winter hike into a very uncomfortable one and it's remarkably difficult to warm them up again if the worst does occur. You should take a pair of lightweight gloves with you on every hike. This way, you can always slip them into your pockets if you do get too warm but are safe in the knowledge that an easy and vital extra layer is ready and waiting should you need it.
While there is no doubt that sunglasses are an essential accessory when it comes to what to wear hiking in Summer, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that you should keep yours to hand in Winter too. Winter sun can be pretty intense, particularly when reflecting off snow or water. A good pair of sunglasses with polarised lenses will shield your eyes from the harmful UV rays emitted by the Winter sun and reduce glare, allowing you to safely enjoy the views on your hike.
Thermal or Warmer Jacket
In terms of your upper body, it's the right combination of layers that you need if you're not sure what to wear hiking in winter. Just like you would when it's a little warmer, wear a skin-to-skin base layer to keep you dry and an insulating mid-layer for removable warmth. In wet and wintry conditions, you will also need an outer shield like a thermal jacket. Try not to cut corners when investing in yours - it's definitely worth the cost that comes with a high-quality waterproof and windproof number. We suggest going for a jacket that is lightweight too. This means that you'll be able to easily fold it up and pack it away into your bag should the clouds stay away.
Neck Gaiter or Snood
Last but certainly not least, finish off your Winter hiking wardrobe with a neck gaiter or snood. These small but mighty scarf-like bits of fabric sit snugly around your neck to provide a bonus and adjustable layer of warmth. The versatile design means that you can pull yours up to cover your face if needed or keep it free-flowing around your neck if you prefer.
The right clothing, accessories and equipment will undoubtedly make a world of difference when it comes to both your comfort and enjoyment of hiking in Winter. Don't hesitate to get in touch with our expert team if you have any questions or wish to learn more about the right types of LOWA boots for your Winter adventures.