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Winter hiking requires special gear to stay warm, dry, and safe. Suitable clothing, protective equipment, and accessories can make all the difference. From UV protection to moisture-wicking properties, thermal-lined hoods and jackets to gaiters, we’ve got everything you need to avoid getting soaked or chilled on your next hike.
1. Boots with Good Traction
The footwear you choose to hike in is the most critical factor in keeping your feet warm and dry, whether you’re hiking in winter or summer. The best hiking boots for winter are insulated to protect your feet from the cold and snow. They feature waterproof, breathable materials like Gore-Tex or a waterproof-breathable membrane that keeps moisture out and your feet warm and dry. The best hiking boots for winter also have a good grip and traction, as you don’t want to be slipping in snow or ice. Ensure the tread is deep enough to prevent slippage on wet, slippery surfaces. Choosing boots with a higher ankle is better to keep snow out, support your ankles, and avoid injury.
2. UV Protection
UV protection is often overlooked as an essential winter hiking gear item. Most hikers think about protecting their skin from the sun during summer. But the sun’s rays are just as intense during winter. If you’re hiking at higher altitudes, you’re more likely to experience snow glare, an extreme reflection of sunlight that can damage the retina. Snow glare can cause snow blindness and make hiking very dangerous. Another potential risk during winter hiking is sunburn. Without the warm weather to draw you outside, you may be less likely to apply sunscreen. But don’t let your guard down just because it’s cold out. Winter sun exposure is more damaging because you’re not sweating as much. You can protect yourself by wearing clothing with a UV protection rating of 50 or more.
3. Rain-proof Hiking Pants or Shorts
You’ll probably be in very wet conditions if you’re hiking in the winter. Make sure your pants are made from a waterproof material. For added warmth and protection from the rain, you might want to consider hiking pants. However, if you’re walking in cold, snowy conditions, remember that waterproof clothing traps heat, making you sweat. If you’re hiking in cold conditions with waterproof pants, you may want to consider switching to shorts. Wearing waterproof hiking pants with synthetic, thermal-lined fabric helps keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. If you plan on hiking in rainy conditions, ensure your shorts are water-resistant to prevent water from seeping in and getting your skin wet.
4. Ultra-dry, Waterproof Jacket
A waterproof jacket can be a must-have winter hiking gear for added warmth and protection. A lightweight, waterproof jacket is a versatile piece of clothing you can wear in various conditions. Ensure the jacket has a durable waterproof exterior, is built to repel rain, and has a warm lining. It would help to pair your waterproof jacket with a lightweight down jacket or vest for added warmth. Winter jackets for women are also an excellent choice for women willing to go hiking in winter. If you’re walking in extremely wet conditions, you may want to consider a waterproof parka. These heavy-duty jackets are built to withstand extreme weather. They’re also great for keeping your core warm, covering the wearer from the waist down.
5. Handheld Flashlight and Mirror
It’s essential to stay safe on the trail during winter. If you get lost or get caught in bad weather, it can be hazardous. Make sure you can see where you’re going with a handheld flashlight that’s strong enough to illuminate your path. It would help if you used a flashlight that has an intense LED illumination and is weatherproof. These flashlights have batteries that can last up to 100 hours and are made to withstand extreme conditions. Even though you may have a flashlight, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to see what’s coming your way. Make sure you have a mirror to see if there are any cars or other people behind you.
If you’re hiking in winter, you need to be prepared. Not only do you need extra warm clothing, but you also need special gear to stay warm, dry, and safe. Boots with good traction, a waterproof jacket, and a handheld flashlight are just a few items you should have. Now that you know what to look for in your winter hiking gear, you can get out there and explore with confidence.