Some of the best hiking I have ever experienced has been with snow on the ground and more falling. Of course, if you go hiking in wintery weather (hopefully we will be getting some soon) you’ll want to make sure you are prepared.
Let’s start at your feet. A good pair of insulated boots will go a long way to keep your tootsies war, toasty, and most importantly DRY. Gore-tex to keep the water out and Thinsulate (600 grams) to keep you warm—at least here in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Socks. I love my SmartWools. They are wool socks that are velvety soft. I also like the built-in arch support as well as the ones I have with extra padding on the toes and heel. The socks come in all sizes, colors, and designs. They are fun and funky but most importantly they work.
On to clothing. The axiom is “Cotton Kills” for a reason. (Of course, all I can think of is a Giant Cotton Ball Monster, similar to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, chasing me through the woods.) Cotton is not a good clothing choice. Water likes cotton and cotton likes water. This is a bad combination for staying warm. Use synthetics that are designed to wick the water away from you and keep you as waterproof as possible.
Layering is the key to keeping warm. The more little pickets of air you have between you and the elements the better. A pair of long johns paired with a pair of winter hiking pants will keep your legs warm. I usually wear a pair of long johns and then a pair of track pants that also have a lining.
Shirts are the same idea. The more layers the better. Start with a basic water wicking t-shirt then add long sleeve shirt. Top it off with a fleece sweatshirt and you’ll be all sorts of warm. Keep all layers free of cotton.
A warm coat that is waterproof and comes down below your bottom will keep the wind out. If it isn’t too dreadfully cold, I wear earmuffs with a baseball hat. If it is cold or a lot of snow is falling I wear a fleece cap and use the hood of my coat for a extra layer of protection.
Gloves are important. The pair I like the most is a combination of fingerless glove and mitten. I like that I can fold up the mitten part and have my fingers free to take notes.
Before you go trekking out for a snowy hike make sure you have plenty of water and food to keep you going. Hiking in the snow takes a lot of effort. Always take your cell phone and tell someone where you are going, where you parked, what trail you are hiking, and when you expect to be done. This might sound extreme but you’ll be glad you did if you ever need help.
On a little different note: Keep anything with batteries in it as close to your body as possible. Cold batteries are dead batteries. A pants pocket or inside jacket pocket are good options in keeping electronic equipment running even in cold temperatures.
Here’s to hoping it actually snows and we can have a little fun hiking on a beautiful winter’s day!