Several friends have asked me what gear, clothing, food, and water to bring on winter hikes. Here is a list of things I bring on winter hikes and some advice that can make a winter hike more enjoyable.
Boots: Avoid walking around with wet frozen feet by getting waterproof boots. *No need to buy snow-boots if you have warm socks*
- I love gortex fabric (wicks away sweat and keeps water out). I can cross a shallow stream with gortex fabric and keep my feet completely dry.
- I prefer a high ankled boot to keep snow and water from coming in the top, and provide ankle support if I am on a really rocky trail.
- Good traction is also a must. I recommend vibrainium rubber soles.
- The boot must also fit you well to avoid blisters.
Winter Traction: I have three types of traction devises for different occasions. I usually start with no traction devise (unless I am snowshoeing) and then put some on if needed. I keep them tied to my pack for easy access.
- I have studs for when the trail is a mixture of ice, mud, rocks, and frozen ground
- I have coil treads for when when the trail for snow and very slick ice
- I have snowshoes for deep snow and slick ice. (Not recommended for any other surfaces or for technical situations (lots of small footholds on rocks, climbing over fallen trees etc)
- Snow baskets prevent poles from sinking into snow to much
- Helps with balance
- Improves posture
- If you skimp on these they will break. Make sure they are sturdy)
Base Clothing Layer:
- Avoid Cotton!
- Wear synthetics or wool that wick sweet away from you, so that your sweet does not freeze on you. This includes anything that comes into direct contact with your skin.
- There are some base layers designed for extra warmth but long underwear or athletic clothes will do the trick.
- Depending on how sunny and windy it is and how
- fast you are hiking it can start to feel quite warm. I a lot of times end up stripping off my outer layer and just hiking around in my mid layer.
- Make sure the mid later is not restricing movement
- Make sure it fits snug enough to your body to make sure the outer layer and pack don’t cause it to ride up and chafe you.
- This layer should lot be too insulated. The layers should give you warmth.
- This layer needs to block wind and water.
- A scarf or a face mask is great to protect your face if it is windy out.
- Scarfs are also great to put behind your jacket zipper and seal in extra warmth.
- I recommend a warm hat to keep against your head and a loose hood to pull up to block wind or snow.
- The mountains can be very sunny, so don’t forget sunglasses.
- If you use trecking poles, thick warm gloves will be wonderful. I would not recommend keeping your hands in your pockets for warmth as they are good to have unconstrained for climbing and balance.
Extra Layer: I keep an extra layer of compressible clothing in my pack, in case it gets colder, warmer, or I get wet.
- Thinner gloves can be nice for in between temperatures
- A thinner jacket can also be nice for in between temperatures, or for sitting on during a snack break
- Extra socks can be great for double layering or for a spare set if the others get wet
- An extra layer of loose fitting pants that you can easily slip on over your other layers will be great if the temperature drops
First aid kit: Keep this in a water proof bag at the bottom of your pack.
- Pain reliever
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Bandages variety of sizes
- Gauze pads
- Rolled gauze
- Medical Tape
- Frosting for diabetes
- Epi pen
- Butterfly strips
- Moleskin for blisters
- Scalpel or razor Blade
- Medical Sponge
- Face mask (CPR barrier)
- Eye Wash
- Itch relief ointment
- Safety Pins
- Steel sewing needle with heavy-duty thread
- Antibacterial ointment
Emergency: stuff to be kept in a water proof bag at the bottom of your pack
- Water proof matches or flint starter
- Pencil and Paper
- Ten Foil
- Emergency blankets
- Para cord
- Chemical hand warmers
- Duct tape
- Knife/Multi Tool
Essentials: Keep in easy to access external pockets on pack.
- Pepper Spray
- Chap stick
- Compass and map
- Flashlight or head lamp
- Toilet paper and hand sanitizer
- Water in bottles (Stored upside down so ice forms at opposite end from lid).
- Avoid bladders, but if you must use them:
- blow air back into them to try to prevent the tube from freezing
- Keep tube hidden in your coat or shirt to prevent it from freezing
- Easily accessible snacks that do not require dexterity to open or consume
- Snacks that will not be difficult to consume if frozen