While summer hikes are incredible, they are usually associated with extremely hot temperatures, crowded trails, and tons of bugs. Hiking in the winter, on the other hand, is peaceful, serene, and scenic.
*Related: The 15 Best Winter Boots
However, winter hiking does call for extreme weather conditions. But the good news is that there is amazing gear designed just for this purpose. If you want to embark on a safe and comfortable hike, you’re going to need the correct essentials.
Eyewear is essential, especially when hiking in harsh weather conditions. These Julbo Colorado Glacier Glasses provide protection from sun and snow glare. They feature a vented leather side that helps block peripheral light, non-slop temples that you can mold for a comfortable fit, and Brown Spectron 4 lenses with anti-glare coating for true color transmission.
The Ergo Grip Active is an exclusive outdoor glove. It’s made with Ergo Grip construction that creates pre-curved fingers for optimal grip. The palm is made of durable goat leather and the upper is made of waterproof, windproof, and breathable Gore WINDSTOPPER© Breeze. They feature a Velcro closure and reinforcement at index finger.
This highly technical, multi-day pack features Granite Gear's newest innovative and fully adjustable Re-Fit System technology, making it easy to customize torso length and hip belt to your personal fit. The Lutsen 45 comes equipped with a dual-density shoulder harness, a zippered stretch mesh hip belt pocket, hydration port and internal hydration sleeve, a stretch mesh front pocket, and tool loops to store your essentials.
This is one of warmest, lightweight, versatile down jackets on the market. The Elite DriDown Hoody is insulated with 850 Fill Power Duck DriDown. It features an over-stuffed hood for protection and a longer length for complete coverage. Its thin PU coating in the exterior shell prevents down leaks and provides water and wind protection while increasing warmth.
This is the perfect backpack for organizing and quickly accessing gear on brisk backcountry treks. The Redwing 50 features dual side pockets, front and top stash pockets, side compression straps, water bottle pockets, trekking pole and ice axe loops, a removable waist belt, and a sternum strap. Don’t forget your Rain Cover for added protection; it’s lightweight, durable, waterproof, and easily storable.
These are one of the most advanced versatile cold weather hiking boots on the market. The Peak Hardcore provides exceptional comfort, support, and protection against all outdoor elements. They are 100-percent waterproof, lightweight, and durable. These boots feature an aggressive outsole, fleece lining, tow and heel rubber guards, and a cushioned EVA midsole. They are rated at negative 40 degrees
This warm, water-resistant, windproof vest is just what you need in winter’s harsh weather conditions. The Men's Nano Puff® Vest is lightweight and highly compressible. It’s wrapped in 100-percent recycled polyester shell and liner, and features two zippered handwarmers, a drawcord-adjustable drop-tail hem, and a center-front zipper with a wicking interior storm flap.
It’s important to layer up, especially on those cold winter hikes. The Lynn Insulated Vest provides you with another layer of protection; the insulation keeps you warm by trapping in heat. The vest features a four-way stretching technology for comfort, handwarmer pockets, an extended collar to protect you from wind, and an interior storm flap with chin guard.
This is a breathable midweight layer that will keep you dry and comfortable during your long winter hikes. The Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew Neck long underwear top features grid backing that eliminates sweat and traps warmth, full underarm gussets for range of motion, elastic thumb loops for secure hand coverage, and offset shoulder seams that fit smoothly under pack straps.
Put these bottoms on before your snow pants for added warmth and protection on your cold winter hikes. The SmartWool Midweight Long Underwear Bottoms are made with merino wool, which helps maintain comfort in cold climates. They feature a chafe-free flatlock and a wide, soft waistband that helps enhance fit.
This sturdy hiking boot is made for women who enjoy trekking. The Quest Prime GTX Hiking Boots are waterproof, lightweight, and extremely cushioned. They feature rubber toe caps and feel slings, wicking polyester lining, dual-density EVA midsoles ,and contagrip rubber outsoles. One reviewer wrote: “I have been wearing these for over 4 months now on my hikes and am so glad I bought them!”
It’s extremely important to stay hydrated, especially when embarking on a strenuous hike. Some hikes will take you to unexpected places and you may feel like you have been climbing in the middle of nowhere for hours. What do you do when you run out of water? The LifeStraw Go with 2-Stage Filtration is just what you need. It helps filter out most waterborne bacteria and protozoa, reduces bad taste, chorine and organic chemical matter, and reduces turbidity, filtering down to 0.2 microns.
You will feel like you are walking on a cloud. The SmartWool Hiking Sock features a flat knit toe seam and an arch brace that holds the sock in places and adds additional support. One reviewer said: “Love these socks! Went hiking in WV with them the day after I purchased for my husband and myself. We both loved them! Soft and perfect weight.”
If you’re looking for an enhanced fit, maximum comfort, and foot protection from blisters, look no further than the Elite Merino+ Cushion Crew Socks. They feature a Patented Sock-Lock Technology, which provides targeted compression, high-density cushioning, and Merino+ fibers that help keep feet dry and odor-free. One reviewer said: “My husband loves these socks. He said they are the most comfortable socks he's ever had.”
Outdoor Research describes the Men’s CrocodilesTM as “simply the best gaiters on the market.” They are breathable, waterproof, and abrasion-resistant. These gaiters feature a double stitched front closure and reinforced boot lace hooks. One reviewer said: “These Gaiters are stellar. They provide protection from the elements where it is most necessary and will keep everything out of your boots.”
As mentioned earlier, staying hydrated is extremely important when embarking on your winter hikes. The Piranha 10L Hydration Pack features an insulted hose cover that prevents water from freezing in the tube. It also contains a large compartment to hold gear, side compression straps, a stretch-mesh front pocket, and a removable waist belt.
When it’s cold, the wind is harsh, and it’s snowing outside, reach for your Insulated Waterproof Hat. It’s lightweight, water-resistant, and breathable. The hat features a soft brim, stretchy fabric, and ear flaps with fleece lining to protect your ears from the cold. One reviewer said: “Just what is needed! Insulated with primaloft so good even when wet, flip up/down front cap part and ear pieces, and waterproof outer layer! Beautiful!”
These warm, soft, and breathable leggings are the perfect base layer for your chilly winter hikes. The Women's Oasis Leggings are made of 100-percent Merino wool. They will keep you warm in cold weather, protect you against the suns harmful rays, and they help to prevent overheating. One reviewer wrote: “Very nice base layer. Super good for hiking. Breathes well and fits well.”
These boots were designed for hiking in freezing temperatures. The Snowburban UltradryTM boots are insulated, waterproof, and extremely durable, and they have incredible traction. They feature a fleece collar lining, molded rubber heal kick, rubber toe rand, and a gaiter D-Ring. One reviewer said: “I like this boot so much that I have a second brand new pair in the closet for when my original pair eventually wears out. They keep my feet comfortable, warm and dry while hiking the mountains in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire.”
This is the lightest 3-layer waterproof/breathable shell jacket from Patagonia. The Women's M10™ Jacket features an alpine helmet-compatible hood, two high handwarmer pockets, watertight zippers, a microfleece-lined neck and chin, and cuffs that can be adjusted with ultra-minimalist hook-and-loop closures.
This hoody is designed to protect you against icy snow and mixed conditions. The Women's Levitation Hoody is breathable, stretchy with a weather-resistant soft-shell fabric. It features a center-front zipper with an interior wind flap, a helmet compatible hood, two high handwarmer pockets, and a left-chest pocket that is secured with zippers.
This jacket is perfect for wearing next to the skin or over a base layer. The Men's Thermal Speedwork Zip-Neck is warm and stretchy. It features Speedwork fabric for smooth and durable face, and its inside is built for warmth and superior wicking. Store your small essentials in its zippered chest pocket and secure your hands with its overlapping thumb holes.
If you’re embarking on an overnight hiking trip, you are obviously going to need to get some sleep. The Eleanor Plus 700/30 Degree by Sierra Designs is a mummy-shaped sleeping bag with quilt style closure for bed-like comfort. The shell is 30D Polyester Ripstop, the liner material is 30D Polyester Traffetta, and its insulation is made up of 700 Fill Duck DriDown.
Dual upper side compression straps, a trekking pole attachment, a stretch mesh front pocket, and a helmet attachment loop make the MANTA AG™ 28 the perfect winter hiking day pack. One reviewer wrote: “Wore it on 3 training hikes and for Whitney. The pack sat with perfect balance on my shoulders and hips. The side hip pockets were great for GU and other snacks.”
The Outrun 1/2 Zip was designed to keep you warm when the temperature drops. Its slim fit makes layering easy and helps to hold the heat close to your body. It features secure pockets to store your essentials, reflective details, and a locker loop. One reviewer said: “Very soft and comfy, the material is thick enough for the colder season.”
When the harsh weather kicks in, you will be happy you’re wearing your Marmot PreCip Full-Zip Rain Pants. These lightweight and reliable pants can be worn alone or over insulating layers. They feature NanoPro fabric that helps move moisture away from your skin, full-length side zippers, an elastic waist, and 100-percent taped seams to seal out the elements. One reviewer wrote: “Took these pants up kilimanjaro. The full-zip is a must. Waterproofing performed well and they provided great wind protection.”
The fēnix® 3 HR has the power to track satellite reception in even the most challenging environments. It measures your heart rate, oxygen levels, and contains outdoor navigation features, including a three-axis compass, altimeter, and barometer. With its PVD-stainless steel bezel and buttons and reinforced housing, the watch provides extra durability and will stand up to the roughest conditions.
The Black Diamond Storm Headlamp is a night hike essential. It delivers 250 lumens of power with both green and red night-vision modes. The headlamp is made of a waterproof housing and features touch-sensitive PowerTap technology. One reviewer wrote: “I hiked two miles in the night plus a 1.5 mile hike on the beach at night with this head lamp. The investment into this product is well worth it, even for new hikers / backpackers.”