WINTER HIKING: What to bring, including my favorite things

Updated: Dec 21, 2019

Think like an onion - dress in thin layers.

Thin layers keep you warmer or cooler, which ever you need. It's much easier to peel off thin layers or add more clothing.

It may surprise you with how fast you warm up during a winter hike.

For me on a cold morning, I'll start out with all my layers on but within 15 - 20 minutes of hiking, I'm peeling off my coat, gloves, hat and neck warmer.

Backpack - When you peel off a clothing item it needs to go somewhere so bring a large enough backpack to carry extra clothing.

Worst Fabric for base layering: cotton - when you sweat, you'll stay wet

Best Fabric for base layering: merino wool - keeps you comfortable and dry at all times

Balaclava (for Neck & Face) - keep this with you on every outing since you never know when you'll need this valuable piece of clothing.

Gaiters - for keeping deeper snow out. I personally don't wear gaiters because of the knee-high Smart Wool socks I wear AND my outer layer waterproof pants tighten at the ankle and don't allow snow to get in. Some people prefer gaiters though.

Poles - Save money and an unnecessary expense by doing what I do - use the same ski poles for three, year-round sports: hiking, skiing, snowshoeing. Purchase a pair for as little as $5 -$10 at a thrift store or $20 at The Gear Room. (Details of my resources are located at the end of this article.)

Gloves/Mittens (my favorite brand - Swany Toaster) Definitely worth the extra money to have warm hands ALL the time - especially in sub zero weather!

Hiking Shoes (Keen - my favorite brand). I wear the same pair of hiking shoes year round, regardless of how deep the snow is.

Knee High Socks - (favorite brand: Smart Wool, 100% merino wool) Don't buy cheap imitations if you want durability and warmth.

Base Layer: (100% Merino Wool tops and bottoms)

Outer layer for pants: Waterproof light weight, (Example: Marmot is one brand I like. There are many great brands!)

Insulated Warm Coat (but NOT waterproof) - Favorite Brand: Patagonia

Headband (on very cold days I wear this over my wool hat to keep it snug over my ears).

Waterproof Jacket - Any waterproof jacket will do but it needs to be WATERPROOF! I found this "Millet Mountain by Experience" at The Gear Room for $65! It's a quality coat that I wore in Iceland when it was raining a lot and it kept me dry the entire trip!

Wool Hat w/ Brim (a brim is helpful for keeping snowflakes out of your eyes)

Sunglasses - a definite MUST for winter. My favorite brand: Blenders Eyewear.

Oboz Footwear - O Fit Insole Plus Thermal - Superior Arch Support, Poron Performance Pods, Reflective Mylar Base Layer. - I am 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 my problem! Includes a 60-day satisfaction GUARANTEE.

Nikwax - Nubuck & Suede Proof. Spray on waterproofing. I use it on my hiking shoes. Waterproofs, maintains support, breathability and texture.

Camera - My favorite: Samsung Galaxy S9. I am IMPRESSED with the quality of photos I have been taking with this little smart phone camera! Much better than my more expensive SLR camera I've had in the past. This is a very big reason I go hiking so often during the winter season - the beauty is incredible!

Kahtoola Micro Spikes - My favorite device for hiking on icy or snow-packed trails during the winter and early spring months. Buy from me for a discounted price: $50/pair, reg. $75. Those who hike with us are required to wear these or a similar traction device on every hike IF we are not using snowshoes. Micro Spikes allow you to hike easily and confidently on some crazy ice and/or snow-packed trails without the fear of falling. Over the years we have rescued many people on icy trails who were not wearing spikes. It's much easier hiking up an ice trail than it is coming down. We've watched people hike up but not be able to come down, without spikes on.

MSR Snowshoes - I rent 19 pair to those who attend my snowshoe outings ($10/outing). I obviously LOVE MSR Snowshoes or I wouldn't have invested in 19 pair! They have incredible traction and an easy binding to get in and out of. They are super durable and well-built.

Hydro Flask - fill this with very warm water and you'll always have a awesome, soothing beverage to give you energy and keep you warm inside! Drinking water helps to insulate your body as well.

Tissues, Kleenex

Snacks - My Favorite: a mix of walnuts & dried cranberries, cashews, granola bars, etc.

My Cell Phone number - IF you are hiking with my group, add my number, 801-278-5313, Sheryl McGlochlin, if you need to contact me. NOTE: You don't always have cell phone coverage in the canyons.

Cash - bring a few extra dollars for your driver if you are carpooling with someone to the trailhead. It's a kind, courteous gesture.

SAFETY TIP: Regardless of when you are hiking during the year, always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be off the trail. All of our hikes are based on TIME, which means, we meet at 8 AM and we are off the mountain by 12 Noon. There may be some in our group that stay out longer but the bulk of our group will ALWAYS be off the trail by 12 NOON. Learn who the most seasoned, experienced hikers are and DON'T follow them unless you have talked to me first and have qualified for more difficult, longer hikes.

I appreciate it when even my strongest hikers send me a quick text letting me know they are off the mountain so I know everyone is accounted for.

My favorite clothing/gear resources:

Deseret Industries - Thrift store, gently used clothing/gear, stores located everywhere in Utah. Check often for ski poles, 100% merino wool pullovers in men and women's clothing departments - Gently used, quality clothing and equipment. Check here first. Tell Kevin or Chris that Sheryl sent you.


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