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Equip Yourself: 15 Must-Have Winter Hiking Gear Items for a Safe and Fun Trip

The winter season can be especially challenging if you live in a bone-chillingly cold and snowy area. There are usually fewer activities to do and the cold generally makes you want to stay inside. But you don’t have to give up your hiking trip due to chilly air or a little snow on the ground! Hiking trips can still be enjoyable as long as you pack the correct winter hiking gear.

Keep reading to learn about some winter hiking gear that should be on your shopping list!

Winter Hiking Gear

Winter Hiking Clothing

1. Winter Hiking Pants

Not all hiking pants are equal! If you plan on going on a winter hiking trip, don’t reach for your lightweight, thin hiking pants. You’ll feel cold and will probably need to end your hiking trip early.

Winter hiking pants should be one of the first pieces of winter hiking gear you pack for your trip. These winter hiking pants come with fleece-lined legs, which are essential in trapping body heat. You’ll also notice that these winter hiking pants have durable waterproof linings on the outside. And while these linings are thick and durable, you can still move freely.

BenBoy Men's Snow Ski Outdoor Waterproof Windproof Fleece Cargo Hiking Pants,AN-SF1602M-Army Green-S

While waterproof fabric is generally important when hiking, it’s especially vital for snow. The second the snow hits your body heat, it will melt. And the combination of wetness with cold outside temperatures can make you feel cold faster.

2. Winter Hiking Gloves

Frostbite can be a big issue on winter hikes if you’re not prepared with the proper winter hiking gear. Once the temperature goes below 32ºF, your face, hands, and feet are typically the first to get frostbite. So, you need to do the best you can to keep those parts covered with warm and waterproof materials.

Cevapro -30℉ Winter Gloves Touchscreen Gloves Thermal Gloves for Running Hiking

These cold-weather hiking gloves are a must on your list! They can keep your hands warm in negative-degree weather, as the gloves use insulating and waterproof fabric. This is a reassuring aspect. Fleece-lined gloves are especially great at keeping your body heat contained.

3. Weatherproof Jacket

A weatherproof jacket is the perfect piece of winter hiking gear to pair with your winter hiking pants! Look for jackets with heat-containing linings, like fuzzy polyester or fleece. You’ll also want something that’s water-repellent to protect you from the melting snow or rain.

MOERDENG Women's Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket Windproof Rain Windbreaker Winter Warm Hooded Snow Coat

This snow coat is the perfect option if you need an idea of where to start. It’s soft, warm, water-repellent, and even has adjustable cuffs to block the cold out. This coat is also highly wind-resistant, keeping you warm even on the coldest days.

4. Thermal Winter Hat

The hood on your jacket can only do so much in the windy cold. It might do the job of keeping your head warm on mild days. But you shouldn’t solely rely on it and should have a backup like this winter beanie. Fleece-lined winter beanies like these offer the best amount of heat retention. The extra heat insulation will keep your head warm and can help prevent frostbite on your ears.

OZERO Daily Skully Beanie Hat,Thick and Soft Knitting Stretch to Fit Most Black

Insulated beanies are also a little stretchy, allowing them to fit comfortably on everyone’s head. It’s a versatile piece of winter hiking gear that’s excellent to have on hand.

5. Winter Hiking Boots

Your feet, especially if wet, are prone to frostbite on your winter hike. So, don’t wear your normal hiking shoes. Yes, they might be waterproof, but they don’t belong in your winter hiking gear collection. And you don’t want your feet to be cold, wet, or slipping all over the place while hiking on inclines. This can make you more prone to injuries.

XPETI Men’s Crest Thermo Winter Snow Boots Insulated Lightweight Hiking Boot Black/Orange 9.5

You’ll want to look for excellent insulation, waterproof materials, and stability to keep your feet safe and warm. These winter hiking boots are the perfect option, as they’re completely waterproof and can provide warmth in negative-degree weather. These boots are also lightweight and have shock technology to stabilize your feet and ankles.

Winter Hiking Tools

6. Fire Starter

Even if you don’t plan on camping, a fire starter should always be part of your winter hiking gear. Maybe you want to take a break or need to heat up some food. There’s also always the slim chance that you can end up in an emergency situation, such as getting stranded. Fires will provide you with some extra heat and light when needed.

bayite 4 Inch Survival Ferrocerium Drilled Flint Fire Starter, Ferro Rod Kit with Paracord Landyard Handle and Striker, 4"(Long) x 3/8"(Diameter)

A fire starter is better to have on hand than matches, as it’s waterproof. Matches become useless if they get exposed to rain or snow, so they aren’t the best tool to have.

7. Compass

Oftentimes, when you’re hiking, you’ll be away from civilization. This means your service-needing technology, such as your cell phone, won’t serve much of a purpose besides taking pictures. That’s where a compass can become your best friend in your winter hiking gear tool kit.

Orienteering Compass Hiking Backpacking Compass | Advanced Scout Compass Camping Navigation - Boy Scout Compass for Kids | Professional Field Compass for Map Reading - Best TurnOnSport Survival Gifts

Hiking trails can get a little confusing when the ground gets covered in snow. The snow can often cover trail markers and the pathways themselves. So, if you feel yourself getting lost, your compass can redirect you in the right direction. Compasses are especially helpful if you’re going off-trail hiking or you’re hiking in a new, unfamiliar area.

8. Waterproof Camping Lanterns

There’s nothing worse than being in the wilderness in complete darkness, especially if you didn’t plan on a nighttime hike. Waterproof camping lanterns are must-have winter hiking gear tools for this reason. But you don’t only need these lanterns for emergency situations. They work great for lighting the way if you’re hiking through caves or taking a camping pitstop.

LE 1000LM Battery Powered LED Camping Lantern, Waterproof Tent Light with 4 Light Modes, Camping Essentials, Portable Lantern Flashlight for Camping, Hurricane, Emergency, Hiking, Power Outages

The sun also tends to set very early in the wintertime, reducing daylight hours significantly. So, you may be finishing up your hike at dusk, which could be as early as 4 PM. Waterproof lanterns will allow you to safely find your way back no matter the weather.

9. Folding Shovel

You’ll most likely be traveling by car to reach your hiking destination. This means you’ll be leaving your vehicle in a parking lot or the side of a road. And while you’re on your hike, it’s possible that it could snow. That’s where a folding shovel can become an essential piece of winter hiking gear. You may need it to shovel out your tires to get traction and kickstart your journey home.

RHINO USA Folding Survival Shovel w/Pick - Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Military Style Entrenching Tool for Off Road, Camping, Gardening, Beach, Digging Dirt, Sand, Mud & Snow.

Shovels can also come in handy when prepping a camping spot, preparing a fire, or clearing a snowy path. You may need one to dig catholes since there aren’t any restrooms in the wilderness.

10. Crampons

While winter hiking boots work great the majority of the time, they may not have the traction you need. So, as a backup, it’s a good idea to pack some shoe crampons.

Cimkiz Crampons Ice Cleats Traction Snow Grips for Boots Shoes Women Men Kids Anti Slip 19 Stainless Steel Spikes Safe Protect for Hiking Fishing Walking Climbing Mountaineering M, Black, TCB-M

These winter hiking gear essentials are like attachable cleats for your hiking shoes. They’re sturdy chains that have sharp spikes on the bottom to give you traction in the snow and ice. Good traction is essential in the winter, especially if there’s a lot of ice on your hiking path. Attachments like crampons can keep your feet grounded and prevent injuries.

Crampons are not the same as snowshoes. They’re for walkable snow and ice, while snowshoes are better for feet of snow.

11. First Aid Kit

first aid kit should always be part of your winter hiking gear even if your hike is short. Scrapes, cuts, falls, and other injuries are always possible, especially when it’s icy. The smallest scrape can eventually get infected. So, keeping it clean and protected can reduce the chances of infection.

Protect Life First Aid Kit - 100 Piece Includes Tourniquet - Small First Aid Safety Kits for Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, Travel, Vehicle, Outdoors

First aid kits can also hold you over until you can get medical attention if you have larger injuries. They can help you stop any bleeding and keep everything sanitized.

Winter Hiking Survival Gear

12. Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag

Packing a sleeping bag with you, like this cold-weather sleeping bag, is always a good idea on winter hikes. Sometimes your outerwear might not keep you warm enough, or you may decide to camp overnight. It’ll provide you with extra warmth down to 0ºF when needed. And this winter hiking gear essential can offer a dry place to sit when you need a break.

Coleman North Rim Cold-Weather Mummy Sleeping Bag, 0°F Sleeping Bag for Big & Tall Adults, No-Snag Zipper with Adjustable Hood for Warmth and Ventilation

Cold-weather sleeping bags are also a good thing to pack in case you get stranded. While emergencies might not be common, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

13. Camping Stove and Cooking Set

Hot drinks and food are the perfect thing to warm you up on a cold winter day. Luckily, you can bring these things with you on hikes and heat them up with a camping stove. It’s a great addition to your winter hiking gear, so you aren’t limited to granola bars and other dry foods. You’ll also definitely need this if you’re going on a multi-day hike.

Gas One GS-3400P Propane or Butane Stove Dual Fuel Stove Portable Camping Stove - Patent Pending - with Carrying Case Great for Emergency Preparedness Kit

You may also want to pack a small cooking set to heat your soup, coffee, and other things. These two winter hiking gear pieces will bring the comforts of home to the trails. Hot food and drinks will also help keep your body temperature in check.

14. Waterproof Backpack

Before leaving for your hiking trip, you may feel tempted to reach for the backpack you already have. But unless that backpack is completely waterproof, it might be time for a new one. A soggy backpack adds weight to your back and will not protect any of your supplies.

Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack: 35L / 55L / 85L Heavy Duty Roll-Top Closure with Easy Access Front-Zippered Pocket and Cushioned Padded Back Panel for Comfort with IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case

Snow, rain, and ice are all things you may encounter on the trails. The ground is also typically damp in the winter, so your bag will get wet if you put it down. This waterproof backpack will keep all of your winter hiking gear bone dry. It even floats if it falls into the water, so your things will always be safe.

15. Emergency Shelter: Weatherproof Tent

You may think you don’t need a tent unless you plan on an overnight hiking trip. But you should always have one with you just in case. Having an emergency shelter is vital in case you get stuck in a storm or cannot find your way back.

Coleman Camping Tent with Instant Setup, 4/6/8/10 Person Weatherproof Tent with Integrated Rainfly, Double-Thick Fabric, and Included Carry Bag, Sets Up in 60 Seconds

Remember that wetness combined with the cold can cause some health issues over time. A tent could be the game changer that helps prevent these things in an emergency. So, look for a completely waterproof tent you can set up quickly to add to your winter hiking gear. It’ll keep you dry from falling precipitation, block wind, and insulate the much-needed heat.

Get Ready for the Cold Weather With These Winter Hiking Gear Essentials!

Staying warm and keeping yourself dry in the cold is vital to your health. The combination of dampness and cold can lead to faster frostbite and hypothermia onset. That’s why winter-specific gear is essential on winter hiking trips. Hopefully, these winter hiking gear options gave you some ideas for your next cold-weather hiking trip.

Are you looking for more ways to upgrade your winter gear collection? Check out our post on Essential Winter Backpacking Gear for more options!