Best equipment, equipment for winter hiking and camping

Best equipment, equipment for winter hiking and camping

Effective layering is key when hiking in the winter, starting with long underwear. Quality base layers will direct sweat from your skin and keep you warm and dry. All the experts we spoke to recommended long underwear made of merino wool, which is unusually warm and breathable, even when it gets wet, and which also combats odor. For overnight trips, REI’s virtual outfitting team leader, Forrest Jarvi, suggests packing an extra pair of long underwear to sleep in if you can sacrifice weight.

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Pattern Crew (women)

Smartwool Merino 250 baselayer base (women)

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Crew (men)

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bund (Men)

Chyla Anderson, founder of the outdoor entertainment company Outdoorism, calls her Smartwool pads “much softer and cozier than others I’ve tried,” adding that they do not itch either. The brand was mentioned by everyone we spoke to and is a perennial strategist favorite for cooler months.

REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew Top (Women)

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Base Layer Tights (Women)

REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew Top (Men)

REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Bottoms (Men)

If you do not have the budget for wool underlays, our experts advised that synthetic layers will still work – just make sure you do not buy anything made of cotton, which dries slowly and does not retain body heat.

Whatever you put on top of your base coats, it will act as insulation and there are a variety of materials that can serve this purpose, including synthetic fleece, wool and down. If you sweat at a lower altitude and do not have too much wind, rain or snow, you may not want to wear a full buffer jacket while you are on the go – a lighter fleece option or even a T-shirt may be more comfortable. Just make sure you have something thicker with you when you stop. “You can get cold really fast,” warns Herndon-Powell. “So it’s important to change your layers before you even need it.” Wilkinson agrees, adding that you should constantly lie in layers up and down while on the track, to such an extent that it feels like work. “It’s a hassle, it really is,” he says. “But take your time; it will make the trip so much better. ”

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleecevest (women)

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleecevest (Men)

For the hikers who run hot, Kindra Ramos, communications and outreach director at the Washington Trails Association, suggests a fleece vest to keep your core warm, but your arms “free and cooler” while hiking.

Smartwool Hudson Trail Fleece full zipper (women)

Smartwool Hudson Trail Fleece Jacket with full zipper (Men)

This jacket from Smartwool has all the benefits of merino wool, which our experts emphasized was the gold standard for winter hikers and backpackers. The full zipper also allows for temperature control while on the go.

Arc'teryx Atom LT Insulated Hoodie (Women)

Arc'teryx Atom LT insulated hoodie

As a reliable synthetic middle layer, Jarvi recommends Arc’teryx’s Atom LT hoodie, which is light and reliable, even when wet. He says it’s probably “my most used piece of clothing living in Colorado.”

Patagonia Micro Puff-insulated hoodie

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (Men)

Whitman says the classic Patagonia Nano Puff, which is more windproof than other options mentioned here, is both warm and nice to walk in.

Marmot Tallus down jacket

Whitman is also a fan of the Marmot Tullus, especially for mountaineering, due to its tighter sleeves that allow for more dexterity.

Amazon Essentials heavyweight long-sleeved buffer coat with hood and full zipper

Anderson recently swapped his voluminous Columbia 3-in-1 for this buffer coat from Amazon Essentials and has been pleased with the results. “It’s reasonably priced, comes in a variety of colors and – surprisingly – it lasts in cold weather,” she says. “I have the dark camel color and love how neutral it is. So far, this coat has kept me warm in the desert and in the mountains. “

Our experts advised to pack a shell layer of clothing that will protect you from wind, rain and snow. Because you are already capturing heat with your base and middle layers, something light but waterproof will work here. “I like a thin, year-round raincoat that’s big enough to fit over a buffer,” says Herndon-Powell. Instead of waterproof pants, several of our experts preferred bengamachs, which allow for more flexibility on the trail.

Patagonia Snowshot jacket

Jarvi says your regular rain jacket is likely to fit non-extreme trail conditions. If you want to upgrade, the Patagonia Snowshot is loved by winter hikers and backpackers because “it’s built like a ski jacket, but without a ton of extra insulation.” The jacket is constructed with extra length, “which is great because you do not have a seam running up behind your backpack.” If you shop around, Parker adds that any Gore-Tex jacket “is a great investment as it will prevent you from getting wet from falling snow.”

REI Co-op Backpacker Gaiters

Wilkinson tells us that gaiters are too often overlooked. He calls them “a great piece of equipment” to insulate your legs, keep snow out of your shoes and avoid chins when you run off the track. Ramos adds that they are also “much easier to put on and take off” than rain pants.

Winter hiking pants mainly depend on personal preferences and weather conditions – especially if you have a pair of gaiters to protect your boots. Some of our experts go on winter hikes in their base-layer tights, perhaps with shorts and leggings worn over the top, while others prefer to wear trekking pants over their base layer. If you choose pants, Jarvi says you should go for a “soft-shell pants that really easily stretch and throw snow.”

KÜHL Klash pants for women (ladies)

KÜHL Klash trousers (men)

Jarvi says that these trousers, which suit all seasons, have “good stretch”, plus a press stud at the bottom that you can clamp on your hiking boots to create a temporary gaiter. They also have plenty of snack pockets.

Arc'teryx Gamma MX pants (women)

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Trousers (Men)

For a more performance fit, Jarvi mentioned this sleek option from Arc’teryx, which “feels like a climbing pants.”

Salomon Quest-4 GTX Hiking Boots (Women)

Salomon Quest-4 GTX Hiking Boots (Men)

“It’s not necessarily always true that everyone needs insulated boots in the winter,” Wilkinson says. “So much of it depends on temperature, weather conditions, whether it’s wet or dry, and the individual: Some people’s feet always freeze and they need more insulation.” Budget-wise, it is better to invest in a waterproof quality boot that can be worn in all seasons, like these Gore-Tex Salomons that Whitman wears both winter and summer. Whether you are wearing trail runners, lightweight boots or heavy boots, Wilkinson notes that “it is absolutely crucial” to maintain circulation in your feet. “The best way to do that is to make sure you get footwear that is at least one size larger than what you normally wear,” he says. “The toes need space to spread and wiggle around.”

Darn Tough Vermont Hiker Boot Full-Cushion Sok

Darn Tough Merino Wool Boot Sock Full Pillow (Men)

Contrary to what you may assume, thick hiking socks are less effective than slim insulating ones. The material your socks are constructed of is far more crucial than the weight, and again, our experts were evangelical about the benefits of wool. “Especially cotton socks, if they get wet, they stay wet forever and you’re going to be miserable,” Ramos says. “The material really does make a difference in winter conditions.” Parker agrees: “If there’s only one wool item you want to invest in, make sure it’s wool socks.” Vermont brand Darn Tough, which advertises with a lifetime warranty for its socks, was mentioned positively by everyone we spoke to. Jarvi says that it is worth paying extra for the brand’s merino wool socks when going on multi-day trips, because they are odor-inhibiting. “Which is handy, especially if you share a tent.”

REI Co-op Liner Gloves 2.0

Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor Gloves

REI Co-op Guide Insulated Mittens

Gloves are an important item to pack on any winter expedition, especially if you use hiking poles and expose your fingers to the elements. As with other winter hiking, layering is key here. Herndon-Powell wears tight, soft-shell liner gloves while on the trail, but keeps a waterproof pair convenient for sliding on top. Jarvi and Whitman do the same, but they choose mittens as their second layer for extra warmth. Just note that you will not have much dexterity with these.

A warm hat makes all the difference when hiking in the cold. When shopping for one, our experts say, choose something that covers your ears fully. As long as that requirement is met, a cute hat that looks good in the photos is actually not a bad idea, Ramos says. “Because if you do not like your hat, you will not wear it.”

Smartwool Låghatten

Jarvi says that this hat “has the most boring name imaginable, but is extremely comfortable and fits well under a helmet if you are cross-country skiing.”

Smartwool Merino 250 Balaclava

While probably unnecessary for many trips, a couple of our experts said a merino balaclava or neck gaiters like this one from Smartwool would be a good investment.

Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero

If you hike in rainy conditions, do as they do in the Pacific Northwest and put on a Seattle Sombrero. Ramos says these wide-brimmed rain hats are especially useful if you wear glasses.

CAMP Eyewear Trail Polarized Sunglasses

Neutrogena Ultra Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 55

Polarized sunglasses are underrated if you hit the mountains on a clear winter day. “Especially if you’re hiking at a higher altitude, sunlight can be incredibly powerful, especially when reflected from the white snow,” Parker says. While you are at it, do not forget the sunscreen.

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