I’ve been excited to do this post ever since I created this blog! This is a subject that I learned a lot about and wish I could pass on to many different hikers I come across out on the trails. Its kinda funny, but this simple system of layering really does enhance your hike and brings you to a whole new level of comfort in the outdoors.
Layering your clothes is strategic in many ways. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold during any part of your hike and this system is designed to help you control your comfort no matter what the climate. Cuz sometimes you never know how fast the weather will change while you’re out there.
Here I’m going to tell you what I typically wear, and my preferred layering system during a winter hike. I’d love to hear suggestions as well about brand you like, and what makes those products the best in your opinion!
1. Always have a good base layer. A good base layer is a long sleeve shirt that has “wicking” properties. That just means it helps remove the moisture/sweat from your body helping you dry, therefore helping you cool faster. For very cold winter hikes choose a wool wicking base layer. NEVER choose a cotton for layers in winter hiking. It retains moisture there fore it keeps you wet & cold which is not fun.
2. Insulation layer. This is some form of zip up puffy or heavy fleece. I prefer puffys because I can easily just wear my base and insulation layer and only grab out my outer layer if needed. This is the layer that really helps you create the most heat. (Usually when I stop to take a break) ALWAYS try to wear a mid/insulation layer that zips up and down. Having to pull over styles are kinda a pain in the ass if you ask me.
3. Outer Layer is really important. You typically want a hard shell outer layer that is WATER PROOF, not WATER RESISTANT. Always check this out when buying an outer layer. Your “shell” (outer layer) is what holds in all the heat that your insulation layer is creating and maintaining. It also shields you from the majority of the elements, unlike a puffy or base layer can. There are hard and soft shells, I use hard shells in the winter and soft shells in the summer.
4. Pants and bottom layers have the same idea as the top layers. I usually have a nice set of wool leggings to go under my pants that have a water proof material.
5. Gloves, Hats, and Socks. Make sure you have all of these on you for your winter hike! All of your heat really gets lost through your head, and you extremities (hands & feet) are the first parts of your body to really feel the cold temp. I recommend two layers of socks. A nice liner, and a heavy wool sock, preferably a high sock. For gloves I recommend Gore-tex and fleece lined. I dont really like mittens but they do seem to keep your hands warmer then in gloves, because they are all close together.
6. Balaclava and Gaiters, these two items are suggested. Gaiters are protective wraps that strap over your hiking boots and around your legs, gaiters keep the snow OUT of your boots! Balaclava is a multitool garment. People wear them around there faces to keep the elements from hitting their face, some wear it as a hat or bandana, some use them for sweat. Its just a handy piece of clothing.
The majority of this was learned from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition its a amazing resource when trying to learn safety, practices, and guidance for hiking all year long.
Have fun with your layer system, try out new combinations, and let me know what your recommendations are! 🙂