Winter Hiking Needs

November 25, 2012

So we are finally starting to feel winter temps and conditions. It is time to pull out the winter outdoor equipment, do some cleaning, waterproofing and replacing, to be prepared for the first descent snowfalls a coming.

Boots are my first priority. I bought a lifetime pair of “Gortex” waterproof, high-top, “Vibram sole” boots a few years ago. I expect to never replace these boots again. I do a good cleaning and touch-up waterproofing at this time each year.

I have done the same thing with my final over-layered jacket. I will check my fleeces and Polypropylene underwear for holes or need to replace them. This includes a full set. Uppers, bottoms and starter socks. I then will purchase some new wool-blend socks each winter, as well as double check my dual gloves system. I carry both a thin Polypropylene set for when I heat up while Hiking, and an outer layer set of waterproof gloves for severe conditions.

I am, always checking my various Nylon blend Hiking Pants for holes and repairs. Plus I have a couple of extra think blends just for the high-wind, extra cold winter days. ABSOLUTELY NO JEANS ALLOWED. These are the very worst kind of pants to wear in any season, but especially during winter outings. They absorb moisture and hold the cold to your body. Even a good pair of Polypropylene underwear will have a hard time fighting off all the negative affects of wearing your favorite pair of jeans.

I will also give my hats a good cleaning and look over at this time as well. I have a number of different kinds and thickness of Hats for different winter outdoor conditions. Like my gloves, I tend to carry two hats. A thin one for heavy work conditions out on the trails, so I do not overheat, and a thicker wool-bl;end, waterproof hat for the more severe conditions. It is easy to stash a second hat and pair of gloves in your final coat layer. It is so well worth the effort for both comfort and convenience.

A few side items are my handy and inexpensive black garbage bag. Never sit in the wet snow or on that wet log again. A water carrying system,. A bladder Pack is not always as easy to manage in winter conditions. I prefer to stash multiple water containers through out my cloths. Some for easy access, and others for deep storage as my Hiking day rolls onward.

There is always the small utility Kit. Knife, Fire starter, Whistle, Magnifier, and what ever else that YOU have discovered is you creature comforts on winter outdoor activities. This can vary greatly from one person to another.

This year I am trying out a new “Columbia” heat-lined system final overcoat. This is my final layer after a complete Polypropylene underwear, Nylon Pants, Fleece vest and possible undercoat. I have already done some preliminary tests and think I just maybe loosing the final long-sleeved fleece undercoat. This will reduce much bulk in my upper body and allow much easier ventilation during high exertion periods.

My Boots are ready, got some new socks, my Polypropylene’s are all in great shape. I have three sets of different thicknesses. Looking at a new outer glove layer. Something still water and wind proof, but a bit less bulky then what I am using now. A couple of new Hats are in order as well. Again, something more synthetic and lightweight, yet even more functional then what I have been using for the last few years.

So there we go. You can see that it takes a few years to actually tweak your full winter wear system. And there is also the new equipment that arrives each season that may fill that longtime need and desire you have had. You build on these things, getting better, more light weight, more functional and more convenient every year. These are the things that truly make winter outdoor adventures so much fun. Being prepared ahead of time.



  1. I also recommend buying a pair of ‘gators’. Gators are waterproof extensions for the tops of your boots that effectively seal the area where your boot top ends and your pants begin. Gators have saved me from getting a ‘soaker’ on a few occasions where I crashed through ice and pulled out immediately. The gators provided an extra split second I needed to prevent the water from filling my boot.

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