Guide to Layering for Winter Hiking

This post is a follow-up to last week’s post about What to Wear Fat Biking in Cold Weather. Last year my friend Skyler and I hiked in the Catskills on a frigid day. I meant to use this graphic last winter but never got around do it. As I type, the wind is howling outside my window and the windchill is -10, so now is a good time as ever!

The key to staying warm during outdoor activities in the winter is layering. Base layers, or what you’re wearing against your skin are very important for retaining heat. A good base layer is made of either merino wool, which can be expensive, or a synthetic material, which is cheaper. I always wear a fleece-lined long-sleeve midweight base layer over the lightweight layer for extra warmth. On this particular day, I was wearing five total layers on top!

  1. Tank top (synthetic)
  2. Long sleeve base layer (merino)
  3. Mid-weight long sleeve (synthetic)
  4. Insulating down-tech fleece jacket (down-filled core with sweater fleece)
  5. Prima loft hooded jacket (lightweight, synthetic insulating outer layer)
  6. An optional sixth layer would be a shell, however, on this particular day, it was not wet enough to warrant a rain jacket or shell. However, I’d advise to always keep one in your pack during hikes!

On the bottom, you can layer similarly. I had on a mid-weight merino baselayer pant and my regular hiking pants on top of them. I also layered with a pair of synthetic sock-liners under a thick pair of wool socks, along with insulated winter hiking boots. A knit hat, a fleece neck warmer, and waterproof insulated gloves were also key! Hiking can be hard work, so being able to remove layers when you get too warm is important to help regulate temperature. You don’t ever want to be hiking in wet, sweaty clothes in cold temperatures.

As always, check the weather forecast before you head out. Also carry proper traction for your hike, such as microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes. Sometimes it’s best to bring all three, which can make a heavy pack!

Check out some of one of my other posts about winter hiking:

Adirondack Hiking Safety Tips

 

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