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FALL & WINTER HIKING: What to bring, what to expect, how to prepare

Fall & Winter Hiking: What to Expect, How to Prepare, Part 1

Fall & Winter Hiking: What to Expect, How to Prepare, Part 2 4 minute Health Quiz w/ Sheryl

Dress like an onion. Wear thin layers so you can easily peel layers on or off as needed.

Thin layers keep you warmer or cooler, whatever you need.

It may surprise you with how fast you warm up on a hike, in the fall or winter.

Often I'll start hiking with more layers but within 15 minutes I'm hot and starting to peel off some of the layers ie. coat, gloves, hat, neck warmer, etc.

Duffel Bag - Keep this with you until you arrive at the trailhead. It should have a variety of extra clothing items. Make any last minute adjustments if needed.

KEEP THIS BAG IN YOUR VEHICLE while hiking. Do NOT take it with you on a hike.

This bag serves as a valuable emergency preparedness bag as well. Keep it in your vehicle during the fall & winter months AT ALL TIMES! It may be used for a last minute decision before hiking OR if someone else is in trouble, something in your duffel bag may help a rescue situation.

What to include in this DUFFEL BAG: extra items like gloves, smart wool socks, warm hat, snacks like nuts, granola bars, hard candy, extra water bottles, base layers, long underwear, extra coat, flashlight, whistle, $20 cash (emergency money)

Backpack - You'll use this on a hike. Generally within 15 - 30 minutes of winter hiking you should start to heat up. Carry a backpack large enough to hold items you peel off. Generally my coat, hat, gloves, and neck warmer are the first to come off. It is not fun to over-heat while hiking.

Best Fabric for base layers: super soft 100% merino wool - keeps you comfortable and dry at all times

Base Layer: examples of my favorites include

or (100% Merino Wool, top and bottoms)

WORST Fabric for Outer Layers - especially during the fall/winter months - Cotton. Avoid denim! IF you get wet, either from sweating or from rain/snow weather, you'll remain wet and cold which is not good and can be dangerous in the fall and winter seasons. Cotton does not wick.

Balaclava (for Neck & Face protection) - wear this around your neck, NOT on your face BEFORE leaving home. You'll be prepared when you really need it. It's the one item I forget about IF I don't put it on before leaving my home.

Poles - I use the same $15 ski poles for four sports: year round hiking, skiing, backpacking and snowshoeing. Purchase a pair for under $20 at The Gear Room OR even less for $3 - $10 at Savers or Deseret Industries Thrift Stores. Resources located at the end of this article.

How to find a ski pole that's right for you: hold the pole upside down, just barely underneath the basket. Your arm should be at a 90 degree angle for a perfect fit! If you have questions about this contact me.

Gloves/Mittens - favorite brand: Swany Toasters. Definitely worth paying $49 to have warm hands ALL the time - especially in cold weather! Buy on Amazon or online.

Hiking Shoes - Keen: my favorite brand of hiking shoe. I wear the same hiking shoes YEAR ROUND, regardless of how deep the snow is. REI is my favorite Go-To Hiking Shoe store. They guarantee my happiness! If anything is not right with the shoe or how it fits, return it for another shoe or a full refund.

Knee High Socks - favorite brand: Smart Wool, 100% merino wool. I avoid cheaper imitation socks because they 1) give me blisters 2) wear out faster 3) don't keep my feet/legs warm and comfortable.

Outer layer for pants - Waterproof light weight. I love Marmot brand but there are several great brands. Online, amazon, Sierra Trading Post, etc.

Insulated Warm Coat - One of my favorite brands: Patagonia

Headband - on very cold days I wear this over my wool hat to keep it snug over my ears, for extra warmth!

Wind and Waterproof Coat - Check the Gear Room in Cottonwood Heights OFTEN for great deals! They are an outdoor adventure clothing and gear consignment shop and you'll find lots of great deals at this place. They have excellent customer service as well. I found an expensive quality rain coat at The Gear Room for $30 or $40 that I wore in Iceland for a week, when it was raining a lot. It kept me dry the entire trip!

Wool Hat (w/ Brim optional) - A brim is helpful for keeping snowflakes or rain out of your eyes

Sunglasses - a MUST for every season but especially fall and winter. My favorite brand:

O Fit Insole Plus Thermal by Oboz Footwear - - Superior Arch Support, Poron Performance Pods, Reflective Mylar Base Layer.

So grateful I discovered these at REI since I needed arch support AND extra insulation in my shoes for winter hiking. For $35 this solved the problem! Includes a 60-day satisfaction GUARANTEE. I take these insoles out during the summer and put them back in for winter. Result is warm comfortable feet!

Nikwax - Nubuck & Suede Proof. I use this on my hiking shoes and coat. Waterproofs, maintains support, breathability and texture. High-performance, low-impact formula waterproofs Nubuck and suede while maintaining breathability, support and texture

  • Aerosol-free, spray-on application; for best results, apply to clean, wet footwear

  • Biodegradable solution contains no fluorocarbons or VOCs

  • Nikwax is a global leader in safe, high-performance waterproofing and cleaning solutions for clothing, footwear and equipment

Camera - Any quality Smart phone! It's a big reason I love fall and winter hiking! It allows me to capture all the incredible beauty!

Kahtoola MICROspike® - My favorite device for hiking on ice or snow-packed trails during the fall, winter and even spring season. Purchase these from me or my assistants, Mike and Anna. I buy these at a discount for my hikers. Our hikers are required to bring and wear an ice/snow traction device when trail conditions dictate. In 19 years we have tried an assortment of ice traction devices. Kahtoola MICROspikes® are by far the best for our needs from October through May and much cheaper than a knee or hip replacement from falling on ice. These are used on at least 95% of our winter hikes. Snowshoes are used but not as much as spikes. Kahtoola MICROspikes® allow you to hike easily and confidently on ice and/or snow-packed trails without fear of falling. Through the years we have rescued many people who were not wearing spikes.

MSR Snowshoes - I LOVE MSR Snowshoes or I wouldn't have invested in 20 pairs! Incredible traction, durable, well-built and an easy, comfortable binding makes MSR my favorite. Buy a pair before or during the season or just rent from me anytime. It's wise to rent first to make sure you actually like snowshoeing. New basic MSR's start around $160.

Gaiters - protection from snow. I personally don't use gaiters much but many people love them and wear them often during the winter season.

Hydro Flask - fill it with warm water and you'll always have a great soothing beverage. Drinking plenty of water will 1) insulate your body 2)give you extra energy and 3) help eliminate high altitude sickness.

Tissues, Kleenex - Always needed!

Snacks - My Favorite: a mix of walnuts & dried cranberries, also almonds, cashews, granola bars, applesauce packets, pretzels and peanut butter.

Cell Phone numbers from members of our group - There is always safety in numbers. Ask for cell phone numbers from people in our group. IF you are ever in trouble you need to call someone who is hiking with us, however cell phone communication is not reliable in the canyon.

Cash - always bring some cash, up to $20 in small bills, for unexpected fees, carpooling or unknown problems.

Small Notebook & Pen - For leaving a note on a car, etc. Cell phones don't always work for everything in the wilderness. You may need to contact someone in another way.

Whistle - If you ever get separated from our group and need help, always carry a whistle and use it! Whether I am leading a group of hikers or kayakers, if someone starts to fall behind or is in trouble in any other way they need to blow their whistle until help arrives.


Always carry medical info like health insurance and any medical conditions in case of an accident. Also drivers license and a contact name and phone number.


1) When you are hiking, even a short hike, make a habit of telling someone where you are going and when you expect to be off the trail. If you feel you don't have anyone to tell, and you are not hiking with me, send me a text message

2) Our free weekly hikes are based on TIME, which means we meet at 8 AM and are off the trail by 12 Noon Unless stated otherwise.

As always you can enjoy a much shorter hike than this. Tell me in advance if this is your plan.

On our hikes you'll quickly meet others who you feel compatible with.

3) If you are not with me when you get off the trail, please send me a quick text, letting me know you are off the trail and who is with you, if there are others. Over the years I have grown to love every person who joins us and want to know that each person is accounted for.


My favorite clothing/gear tips IF YOU WANT TO SAVE A LOT OF MONEY!

The Gear Room - Cottonwood Heights, Utah (1/4 mile West of Mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon) - Gently used, quality clothing and equipment. Check here first before purchasing anything anywhere else. Tell Kevin or Chris that Sheryl sent you.

Want to sell any of your own outdoor clothing or gear? Tell them! They'll be happy to hear from you.

Deseret Industries or Savers - Thrift stores, look for gently used clothing/gear, stores located everywhere in Utah. Check often for ski poles, 100% merino wool pullover tops in men and women's clothing departments

ALSO my favorites:


You can never have too much communication when you really need help. Generally it's not enough.

Cell Phone - Something all of us have but don't plan on having reception everywhere in the mountains.

Ham Radio - You must get a license but an incredible communication tool for an emergency. Text me if you want to learn more since my husband, Dave, is a licensed operator.

Satellite Phone -

Garmin inReach Mini Satellite Communicator, $350 plus $12 - $35/monthly subscription. Best way to send Text and SOS messages for help. Excellent tracking device among other features. It could easily save your life.


Strava - - my favorite tracking device

Additional Favorites:

What to bring - MY Favorite things...

These are just some of my favorites. They are not all required.


1) stay warm, dry and comfortable outdoors all winter long, regardless of the weather or temperatures

2) get better acquainted with types of fabrics that work best for cold, wet months.

Money saving tip:

Once you get familiar with my favorite items, watch for these same items at outlets, closeouts, thrift stores, online garage sales/yard sales, etc. 

• Favorite Neck Gaiter - Smart Wool gaiter

• Favorite Lotion - Utah is dry and your skin may easily dry out. Cetaphil Lotion

• Favorite Top Thin Base Layer - Helly Hansen Base Layer, any thin top made from 100% merino wool. Find merino wool at Thrift Stores for very little money.

• Favorite Hand/Toe/Body Warmers, Reusable, Wonder Warmers 

• Favorite Down Jacket for Skiing/Hiking - Columbia Jacket or Patagonia

• Favorite Backpack - One from the Gear Room for best prices. I carry a bigger backpack to put snowshoes or my Zipfy Sled in

• Favorite Thermal Underwear - Under Armour Base

• Favorite Hard Candy: Werther's Original

• Favorite Shovel - Voile Telepro Shovel - This is a mini light-weight shovel. Keep this in your vehicle at all times during the entire winter. You may help rescue another person.

• Favorite Pants, Waterproof: Marmot Precip Pants

• Favorite Lantern - Inflatable Solar Chargeable Lantern

• Soothing aches, pains and relaxing muscles AFTER a hike - My TWO favorites: Wonder Warmers AND hot bath with 2 cups of Epson Salt

• Favorite Sled:  Zipfy

Favorite Zipfy Run in the Back Country - With a Go Pro camera strapped to me and my son, Trevor, and another friend are just in front of me on this 1.5 mile run. Not for beginners. Lots of twists and turns. 11 minute ride down a mountain!


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