Winter can be a magical time of year, full of stunning landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and crisp winter air. But it can also be challenging if you’re not prepared with the right equipment. At WalkingWomen, we work with experienced women guides who have put together an essential list of winter walking gear so you can confidently enjoy your next adventure. Keep reading to find out exactly what you need!
Let’s start with what to wear. Layering is key when it comes to dressing for winter hiking, as it allows you to adjust your clothing depending on the temperature and provides extra insulation against cold wind and rain. We have provided this as a guide to help you be prepared. There is a huge range of technical clothing available to choose from with a vast array of prices. It is easy to spend hundreds of pounds, so it’s essential you choose wisely. We have partnered with FINDRA and Cotswold Outdoor, who offer sustainable clothing options, give great free advice and offer WalkingWomen a discount!
If you want to learn more about the layering system, take a look at Cotswold Outdoors Layering Guide
Here’s what you should bring on your next cold-weather outing:
COLD WEATHER CLOTHING
- BASE LAYERS: Thermals (Long johns & vest) – Ideally, Merino Wool is a must-have in colder temperatures, as it provides an extra layer of warmth and comfort. Merino wool is soft on the skin, breathable and very warm. There are cheaper synthetic alternatives that are effective; some options are listed below.
- Further reading – The Multi-Use Benefits Of Base Layers
- MID LAYERS: Fleece top – a fleece top is perfect for layering up in cold weather as it traps heat and helps keep out the wind chill. A full zip allows you to open up if you start heating up on the ascents.
- Further reading – Cotswold Outdoors mid layer buying guide
- OUTER LAYER: Down Jackets, either down or synthetic, will keep you warm.
- Read more – Cotswold Outdoors Guide to buying insulated jackets
- WALKING TROUSERS: Warm/windproof trousers will provide additional warmth and protection from the elements.
- WATERPROOFS: this is essential for any outdoor activity as it keeps you dry even in wet weather conditions. Check the weather before you start your hike, but generally, the advice is to take waterproofs with you unless you are absolutely sure you won’t get wet! – see the Cotswold Outdoor range or read their Guide to buying waterproofs here
- FOOTWEAR: Rigid-soled winter boots – these are designed specifically for walking in snowy or icy conditions, providing extra grip and support while keeping your feet warm. It’s impossible for us to recommend any specific boots as it is such a personal choice. We suggest going to a reputable retailer such as Cotswold Outdoor and having a proper fitting.
- SOCKS: DO NOT SKIMP ON CHEAP SOCKS. We can’t stress this enough. Good quality thick wool socks will reduce the chance of blisters and keep your feet warm and comfortable. We like Bridgedale Women’s Merino Hiker Socks. You can see the whole collection here.
- GAITERS (optional) – gaiters are great for protecting your lower legs from mud or wet snow that might otherwise seep into your boots and make them uncomfortable.
- WARM HAT – a warm hat is essential in cold weather as most of our body heat escapes through our head!
- GLOVES OR MITS will help keep your hands warm while allowing flexibility of movement – [buying guide]
We’ve given examples of some of the kits we pack when heading off for a winter break that we hope you find useful but remember, we all come in different shapes and sizes. Order early or go in-store to get advice and try things on to see how they feel and fit.
⇒ TIP: Check the label for washing instructions when washing wool socks and Marino wool garments. If you wash them on a hot wash, you will end up with clothing fit for a Barbie doll!! That’s an expensive mistake you don’t want to make!
WHAT TO TAKE ON THE TRAILS
- A DAYPACK – Assuming you’re not planning to wild camp or go hiking unsupported for days on end, a 20l to 26l day pack should suffice. Outer pockets are useful for keeping snacks, tissues, and other essentials can be useful. Make sure it’s waterproof or comes with a waterproof cover. – Read Cotswold Outdoor Best Pack Guide
- POLES– Poles are helpful if you’re walking over uneven terrain or unstable ground. They provide extra balance and stability while reducing strain on your joints.
- SIT MAT: These are great for keeping you’re bum dry when sitting on damp ground. Light and packable, it’s worth making room in your pack for one.
- SMALL FIRST AID KIT: If you are accompanied by our guides, they will carry a full fiesta aid kid, but we always recommend you carry the basics in your pack, especially if you are hiking in remote areas. The essentials are blister plasters, painkillers, and a survival blanket.
- WATER BOTTLE: It’s essential to take water with you when walking, and we would suggest, rather than taking a plastic water bottle, investing in a reusable, more sustainable option is a good idea.
- LUNCH BOX AND WAX WRAPS: Not essential, but really useful to stop your packed lunch from getting squished.
- ENERGY GELS – If you have a challenging day ahead, it’s worth throwing in a couple of energy bars or gels to ensure you stay well-fuelled throughout the day.
⇒ TIP: Rather than paying a premium for ‘energy’ bars/gel, take Jelly Babies or Fruit Pastels along with a handful of fig rolls – it does the job at half the price!
- PHONE & POWERPACK – if you planning to track your route on your phone or take lots of pics, it’s worth carrying a power pack with you.
- BUFF – We love Buffs. They are so versatile and light to pack. They can be used as scarves, headbands or hats and come in various colours.
- SUNGLASSES – Remember, if there is snow around and the sun comes out, it can become very bright.
With these items in tow, you’ll be ready to take on anything Mother Nature throws at you! Remember to layer up correctly so you can adjust according to the temperature outside—and don’t forget those gloves! If you follow this kit list, nothing will stand between you and an incredible outdoor winter adventure! Happy hiking and we hope to see you soon on a WalkigWomen Adventure!
⇒ TIP: Old Boots and waterproofs can be treated to reproof them. You may be able to resurrect old gear saving you money and being more sustainable – see Cotswold Outdoor’s guide to making adventures more sustainable
Download and print our handy Travel Essentials pack list here.