Winter Hiking — Normally, when you are out in the cold you are bundled up to keep warm. If you are all bundled up for winter hiking, you’ll end up hot, sweaty, uncomfortable and a candidate for getting hypothermia.
The key is layering—nice thin ones. For example, wear a warm long-sleeve shirt and a windbreaker instead of a huge puffy coat.
Wearing layers allows you to add and subtract protective outerwear if the conditions are too warm or too cold.
From the Top – Winter Hiking Gear
• A hat that will cover your ears
• Long sleeve synthetic under-layer to wick away moisture
• Sweatshirt or fleece
• Long underwear
• Warm pants (denim jeans are not recommended)
• Warm socks that have a lot of wool in them like Smartwool
• Waterproof hiking boots
From the Bottom – Conditional Gear
Before you get all geared up and hit the trail, do a traction test. The snow conditions may require snowshoes or crampons to hike effectively and don’t forget the gators.
You’ll also want to add items from basic hiking gear list like water, snacks, lip moisturizer, sunglasses (crucial on a sunny day out in the snow) and a watch. See the full hiking gear list.
If you are unsure about what the conditions might be like, just take everything with you. Check the actual trail conditions and then leave the gear you won’t need in the car.
Always let someone know where you are going and if you can, take a buddy. You can use it as an excuse to spend some time with someone special (snow is romantic).
Know where you are going. The nice thing about snow is that it is harder to get lost because the trail you used to get there is well marked by your tracks.
Check the weather before you go and watch the sky while you are there. If it gets dark and cloudy it may be better to head back rather than chance getting lost in a blizzard.