One of the most common comments I hear from people is that they find it really hard to get time outside during the winter season. The cold temperatures and snow can be a major deterrent for hikers, and I can totally relate. The key to an enjoyable winter hike all comes in wearing the proper clothing to stay warm.

Now here’s the extra challenging part: wearing heavy, thick clothing can cause you to overheat as you work up a sweat while hiking. You’ve probably experienced the feeling of sweating buckets in your heavy winter jacket and snowpants and having that awkward cycle of taking off layers, getting cold, putting them back on and then off again. It totally sucks, and let me tell you how you can make sure this never happens to you again.

The key is to find clothing pieces that have the perfect balance, you want breathable, lightweight clothing that at the same time has good insulation. Let me take you through my key gear pieces for winter hiking.

Photographer: Matt Rowlandson

Important winter gear tips to keep in mind:

DO wear layers, it will keep you warm and you can remove them if you get too hot.
DON’T wear cotton, when it absorbs sweat it looses all its thermal properties.
DO wear clothing that is conforming but allows free movement. You want to keep your body heat from escaping.

My Day Hiking Winter Gear Choices: 

Base Layers:
Wool, synthetic or a wool-synthetic hybrid fabrics
What I Wear: Women’s Oasis Leggings by Icebreaker

Fleece Sweater:
Lightweight with good isolation, they make an excellent mid-layer.
What I wear: Columbia Women’s Glacial Fleece 1/2 Zip 

Down Jacket:
Not only do they have great insolation, but down jackets are lightweight and more breathable while hiking. When purchasing a down jacket, remember the higher the ‘Fill Power’ the warmer it will be.
What I wear: Arc’teryx Women’s Cerium LT Hoody

Hard Shelled Jacket:
Venturing outside when it’s snowing or raining out? One thing to keep in mind is that once down jackets get wet they lose their insolation power. In wet conditions its a good idea to have a hardshell rain jacket that you can layer on top to stay warm and dry. When purchasing a jacket, keep in mind that GORE-TEX is the highest quality you can get in protection from the elements.
What I wear: Arc’teryx Women’s Beta AR Jacket 

Winter Leggings:
Personally I find hiking in snow pants torturous they are so heavy and I overheat so easily in them. I recently discovered that wool, or thick synthetic leggings can be super warm, lightweight and very comfortable/flexible while hiking. I am obsessed with a pair of ‘Hunting Extreme Base Layer’ Leggings from Under Armour that I shovel the drive way in and hike for long periods of time outside in.
What I wear: Under Armour Women’s Extreme Base Hunting Leggings

Wool Socks:
A lightweight wool hiking sock is your best bet for keeping your toes warm as you hike in the winter. My favourite brands are Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Wigwam.
What I wear: Smartwool Women’s PhD Outdoor Heavy Crew Socks 

Hiking Boots:
Ankle hiking boots are my go-to while hiking during the winter because they have a better coverage if the snow is a bit higher. I also find they tend to be a bit warmer because they cover more of your foot and ankle. Obviously if the snow if a bit higher then you are going to want to wear good winter boots or wear snowshoes while hiking.
What I wear: Women’s Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots 

Toque and Mittens/Gloves: 
Keeping your ears and hands warm will make a major difference in your enjoyment of being outside for long periods of time. I recommend anything made of wool or synthetic fabric.
What I wear: Black Diamond LightWeight ScreenTap gloves

Let the Outdoor Adventures Begin!

Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to start exploring all the trails, Parks, and conservation areas in your community. Turn off the Netflix, and work up the courage to start finally enjoying winter. With the proper gear, you will be toasty warm but ready to break out in sweat on the trail. What winter destination in on your hiking bucket list? Comment Below.

Happy Trails!