Dressing For a Winter Hike

Lately I’ve had a handful of people ask me for tips on what to wear when hiking in the winter. I find this funny since I was trying to figure out this very thing a year ago, but I’ve finally come up with some guidelines I follow.

Careful with the layers. It’s important to layer, but it’s also important to not have too many layers. I’ve read multiple articles saying to have 3 layers, and that’s fine, but that’s not what I do.
My first layer is usually a thermal. You never want to wear cotton as your base layer when doing outdoor activities in the winter, because to keep it simple, you will freeze.
My second layer is usually either a windbreaker (on a warmer day) or my down jacket. Both are water resistant, which is key! Water resistant outerwear not only protects from rain and snow, but I can also use it to sit on when resting because it won’t get me wet and it won’t stay wet once I pick it off the ground.
Be warm enough to get you started, but don’t over layer. You will get warmer while putting in the work, which might result in you taking layers off. Just remember, you have to carry what you take with you. Which is another reason I love my down jacket, it packs down nice and small to stuff in my pack.


Keep your head warm. Wear a beanie or winter hat. Beanies are a muuuust for me. The right ones are comfy and keep your heat in. Another plus side to beanies is you can shove them in your pack and they hardly take up room.

Ladies, my favorite bottoms to wear are thermal leggings. I also have a pair of windproof, waterproof soft shell snow pants which are awesome for a snow day. But if I won’t have much contact with the ground, my thermal leggings are my go to for hiking and snowshoeing. They’re light, super easy to move in, and keep my legs toasty warm.

Snow boots! Waterproof boots are very important for the winter. It doesn’t hurt to get ones that are also insulated. If you are going to be snowshoeing, you don’t really need to worry about how the traction on bottom is. But if you’re taking a hike with just the boots, you’ll definitely want to worry about that. I wear a pair of Keen boots, which are waterproof and insulated, but not so great on the traction. I’m still obsessed with them though.

Socks and thermal socks.
I always wear a regular pair of socks against my feet and then my big, warm thermal socks over them.

Gloves. Windproof, waterproof. Don’t really need to say more than that. Although I will add that it is handy to have them touch screen compatible for me.

Extras: On some trips I will bring hand warmers. My gloves have little pockets on the outside I can put them in, which is awesome.
Sunglasses help you from going “snowblind” on a sunny day.
First aid kit is smart to keep around in your pack, no matter the season. I keep a small one with an emergency blanket added.

Half of my winter gear I bought at Costco, which saved me a ton of money on stuff that still works great.

Looking for snowshoes? Shop around! It’s important to get ones you like and that feel right. Don’t be afraid to try on many different ones if you’re shopping in person. You can shop poles and shoes online at Yukon Charlie’s, or a bunch of other places.
You can also check out your local REI or other outdoor stores to look at renting snowshoes before you commit to buying some.

Happy winter friends! Get out and find an adventure right for you. Don’t let the weather keep you in!

Thanks for reading,
Miranda and Loki

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