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

Updated: Jan 21

Fall & Winter Hiking: What to Expect, How to Prepare, Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZqpcYp2VwQ&t=60s

Fall & Winter Hiking: What to Expect, How to Prepare, Part 2


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hBDmR-4snA 4 minute Health Quiz w/ Sheryl

Think like an onion, dress like an onion. Dress in thin layers so you can peel layers on and off as needed.

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

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

On a cold morning, I start out with more layers but within 15 minutes of hiking, I'm starting to peel off my coat, gloves, hat, neck warmer, etc.

Duffel Bag - This travels with you in the car to the trailhead but stays in the car. Make any last minute adjustments as needed.


Use this as a valuable emergency preparedness kit as well. Keep it in your vehicle during the winter months. It may be used for a last minute decision before hiking OR if someone is in trouble, something in your duffel bag may help in a rescue situation. (Items for this bag should include some extras: extra gloves, smart wool socks, warm hat, snacks like granola bars, bags of nuts, hard candy, extra water bottle, base layers, long underwear, extra coat, $20 cash (emergency money)

Backpack - Used on a hike. Generally within 15 - 30 minutes of winter hiking you will start to heat up. Carry a backpack large enough to hold items you peel off. Generally my hat, gloves, and neck warmer come off first.

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 Icebreaker.com

or HellyHansen.com (100% Merino Wool, top and bottoms)

Worst Fabric for Outer Layers - Cotton. Don't wear denim! IF you get wet (from sweat or wet weather) you'll remain wet and very cold which is dangerous in fall and winter months. Cotton does not wick.

Balaclava (for Neck & Face warmth) - put 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 home.

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

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

Hiking Shoes - Keen: my favorite brand of hiking shoe. I wear the same hiking shoes YEAR ROUND, regardless of how deep the snow is.

Knee High Socks - favorite brand: Smart Wool, 100% merino wool. Avoid cheaper imitation socks.

Outer layer for pants - Waterproof light weight. I love Marmot brand but there are several great brands.

Insulated Warm Coat - Favorite Brand: Patagonia

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

Wind and Waterproof Coat - Check the Gear Room often for deals. I got a quality rain coat here 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 definite MUST for every season but especially winter. My favorite brand: BlendersEyewear.com

O Fit Insole Plus Thermal by Oboz Footwear - - Superior Arch Support, Poron Performance Pods, Reflective Mylar Base Layer. https://www.rei.com/product/162942/oboz-o-fit-plus-thermal-medium-arch-insoles

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 - My favorite: Samsung Galaxy. I'm still very happy with my S9. A big reason I love winter hiking is capturing 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. Buy these from me for a discount! Our hikers are required to bring and wear an ice/snow traction device when trail conditions dictate. In 17 years we have tried an assortment of devices. Kahtoola MICROspikes® are by far the best for our needs from October to May and much cheaper than a knee or hip replacement from falling on ice. These are used on at least 90% of our winter hikes. Snowshoes are used the rest of the time. 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 who were not wearing spikes but wish they were!

MSR Snowshoes - I provide 20 pair of MSR snowshoes for our hikers to rent for our outings only: ($10/outing). 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 MSR's start around $150.

Gaiters - protection from snow. I personally don't use my gaiters much due to good smart wool socks and my snow pants.