I have a friend who says there is no bad weather for being outdoors, just people who don’t know how to dress for bad weather.
I disagree. I HATE cold weather. But I LOVE being outdoors. Sometimes it is really hard to come to terms with these two things.
I try to get outside every day. Some days, of course, that is impossible for many reasons. One thing I’m trying very hard to prevent is staying indoors just because I hate the cold. So, I take my friend’s advice and try to dress for the weather!
There are ways to smartly dress for the cold. I recently read an article on tips for winter hiking and one was to, “Dress like an onion – in layers.” This is great advice indeed.
I like my compression socks for warmth under my winter hiking tights. They give me all of the benefits of compression socks along with more warmth up to the knees. If it is really cold, I’ll wear a shorter pair of my other hiking socks – Smartwood htp//www.smartwool.com or Bombas http://www.bombas.combeing my current favorites – over top. Yes, it makes my shoes a bit snugger, but I just loosen the ties.
Buffs https://buffusa.com/shop-buff/women/cold-weather-featured.html are my buddies. I have Buffs that I wear as neck gaiters and one that I use as my beanie. They fold up fairly small and add a layer of warmth to my neck and head. My neck gets cold easily and the gaiter makes me feel a few degrees warmer. And mom was right – you do lose a lot of heat through your head.
Depending on the temperature and wind, I wear either my Mountain Hardware http://www.mountainhardware.cominsulated vest or my Patagonia http://www.patagonia.com short parka. Both are well worth the money (although I purchased the Patagonia at an REI sale for 50% off because it was a discontinued color!) and keep me plenty warm. I usually wear two or three shirts – they are all made out of wicking material. Lots of folks that I know will wear cotton for one of their layers, but not me. I love wicking materials and can work up a sweat despite the cold. I will get colder faster after a hike if I don’t have the wicking layers.
Important note – my vest is bright orange and I wear it during hunting season while in the woods for obvious reasons. Take precautions during hunting season!
Gloves are on my hands if the weather falls below 50 degrees and two pairs if under 35 degrees. Insulated gloves are wonderful for an outer layer with knit ones under.
As I mentioned above, I have winter hiking tights. My husband will wear long underwear under his regular hiking pants. I like the tights and if necessary, wear leggings under the tights.
If the weather is tricky, I take hiking poles to help with balance and wear my hiking tennis shoes with the best treads. Keep in mind that I’m not a hiking boot kind of gal so tennis shoes it is.
Today, I learned a friend actually put about 20 screws in a pair of his hiking shoes to act as treads and swears by it. I’m thinking of trying it and will let you know if I do!
Don’t forget to take water for longer hikes – you still sweat, and need hydrated even in the cold. And follow the usual safety precautions of letting someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. And always, always, always check the weather reports before you head out. Don’t start out if the weather forecast looks iffy.
What are your favorite cold weather hiking tips?
Bob Reiland says
About the only conditions I won’t hike in are temperatures under -20 degrees F or over 100 degrees F, a hurricane, a serious flood or a dust storm.
In really cold weather layered clothing is essential. Good mittens are even more essential (if anything can be “more essential”). I also wear a tossle cap under a hood. I’ve found that without good socks and hiking boots there is a risk of frost bite for my toes.