How to Keep Warm on Winter Hikes

If you follow my blog you know I enjoy hiking, whether sun or snow its great to get outdoors and breathe in fresh air.  It is one of my top five winter activities and one that is easy to achieve and cost-free! However, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to go exploring when the temperatures go below zero.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up in the last year that make hiking in winter fun and enjoyable.

  1. Choose an uphill hike

Simple science with this one! If the temperatures are a little chilly then get that heart rate going by heading up the hills. I often find that I start out in many layers and peel  them off as I go along.  Even more reason is with uphill hikes the views are often extremely rewarding, so head to the mountains.

Barrier Lake (17).jpg

2. Take a warm drink in a thermos

I don’t drink tea (I know, such a bad British person!) or coffee so for me its always steaming hot chocolate in my thermos. It’s so satisfying sitting at the peak of a mountain, enjoying the view with a nice warm drink.  A Thermos is a terrific addition to any hikers’ kit and come in assorted sizes depending on how thirsty you get or how long your hike is. I’m looking forward to putting warm Vimto in mine once I return to the UK.

  1. Layers, Layers, Layers

Getting a good base layer has made my winter hiking much more enjoyable and is vital to keeping warm.  From head to toe I like to wear:

Head: A thick wool hat (or toque if you’re Canadian!)

Top: Base layer top, long sleeved t shirt with thinner sweater or shirt on top.  A scarf you can wrap tightly around your neck is great for keeping the wind at bay. A good tip if you like to take lots of photos whilst hiking it to wear two pairs of gloves, I wear a thinner pair underneath my thicker mittens. This way I can whip off my mittens and snap the shot without losing any fingers to frost bite. Finally, don’t forget a good waterproof coat.

Bottom: Base layer pants, then in dry weather wear loose jeans, in wetter weather I wear sweatpants as denim gets heavy. If it’s particularly snowy and cold, I pop my ski pants on top.

Toe: Good hiking boots that come above the ankle with socks that you can ever so stylishly tuck your trousers into as you don’t want snow getting in your boots and getting soggy toes. Trust me I’ve done it and it’s not fun!

  1. Avoid cotton

Once cotton gets wet, it freezes so if you sweat you’re going to get cold. Wearing a base layer made of a synthetic fabric (like mine above) or merino wool can help avoid this. Many fabrics have been developed to help wick away moisture, they help pull water away from your skin and hence keep you dry and warm. I initially bought a cotton snood to keep my neck warm but found that my breath against the fabric made it incredibly cold in cooler temperatures.

  1. Walk with the sun

Unlike the summer where you want to head out during the cooler parts of the day winter hiking is the opposite.  It might seem obvious but hiking it the middle of the day is going to be warmer than early in the morning.  This is where the layers come in super handy as you can peel them off as the day gets warmer and put them back on as it cools down on the way back.

What are your top tips for keeping toasty out on the trails? Where are your favourite places to trek in the winter?


2 thoughts on “How to Keep Warm on Winter Hikes

  1. Leah says:

    I’d never really thought about hiking uphill as a keep warm strategy. It’s so true, though. These days, we’ve been hitting the trails in Gowlland Tod Park on Vancouver Island (Holmes Peak, Jocelyn Hill, Mount Finlayson – are you seeing a trend here?), and staying toastie warm. I force myself to slightly underdress, as I know I’ll be warming up in a jiffy.

    I had to google Vimto. I would never had thought to put something like that in hot chocolate, but it sounds great! I see it can be ordered online, but I think I’ll wait until I return to the UK to test out this hot tip.

    Liked by 1 person

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