While winter might not seem like the perfect hiking season, the chilly months from December to March offer bonuses to trail seekers that can’t be matched in other seasons. Gone are the summer crowds, leaving the best trails and campsites wide open. And there is a special beauty to hiking through the woods after a light snow that only winter provides. All you need is an adventurous spirit and the right gear. To make hiking frozen trails or snowshoeing in to your favorite mountain getaway a lot more comfortable, here are some of this season’s latest gear items. And they make great holiday gifts, too!
Practical tactical! That’s how KUHL describes their new Radikl Outsider® Pant. Cut from ultra-tough-yet-lightweight ripstop fabric, OUTSIDER® pants feature strategically placed soft shell stretch panels for superior flexibility and airflow while side vents regulate body temperature—perfect for winter hikes when managing your body heat to keep from getting chilled is so important. Eight innovative pockets: three with zippers (thigh pockets and back pocket) and one hidden cell phone pocket inside offer secure storage for all those small items you need to carry on the trail. And KUHL’s lightweight Dynawax™ ripstop fabric delivers rugged wind and water resistance while still offering the comfort and breathability of cotton.
Building a proper base layer that wicks moisture away from your skin is the key to staying warm on winter hikes. Mapped Heatwave™ base layers from Seirus wrap your body in a layer of warmth while perfectly managing ventilation and perspiration. Three complementary fabrics deliver warmth where it is most needed, including extra warmth for the lower back and kidneys, and increased breathability in areas where you run hot. The result is perfect comfort no matter how cold it gets or how intense your outdoor activity is. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, the heat-reflective properties of the Seirus exclusive Heatwave™ material mean you can get the warmth you need in just one base layer—no more piling on so many layers just to go on a hike.
Winter trails can get icy, upping the risk for slips that can lead to sprained ankles or dangerous falls. Now you can hike icy trails with sure-footed confidence by slipping on a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes. Twelve strategically placed, stainless steel spikes bite into the most stubborn ice and snow. And the Ergonomically-Shaped Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) Harness attaches securely to a variety of footwear (no dangling straps to worry about when your hands are cold) and retains its elasticity down to -22°F (-30°C).
Looking for a great pack for your next winter overnight? Check out the Charlie 25 (and larger Alpha 31) packs from Remote Equipment. With its dual-access design (it also opens like a duffel), spacious and removable top pocket, and plenty of extra daisy chains and lash points, the Charlie 25 is made to be nimble. This pack uses 100-percent recycled ECOPAK™ fabrics from Challenge Outdoor that makes it lightweight while offering superior durability and waterproofness. With internal pockets and a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, it's also hydration compatible—the perfect size for a two-day winter hiking adventure. And additional Org Kit zippered pouches are available (sold separately) to keep items organized in your pack. They can also be attached externally to provide extra storage for small items.
Compression socks are ideal for keeping your legs feeling great during and after winter hikes. Vim & Vigr’s Wool Compression Socks help tired legs recover fast by promoting blood flow to energize your legs, reduce swelling, alleviate achiness, aid in muscle recovery, and protect your overall leg health. Unisex sizing is available in a wide range of materials including Merino wool to keep your feet and legs feeling strong on hikes all winter long
Keeping your body warm means reducing the amount of surface area skin that’s exposed to the cold. And while the old Army myth that you lose 50% of your body heat through you head has been debunked by scientific studies, you still lose about 10% if you don’t wear headgear while upping your chances for frostbitten ears in extremely cold conditions. Autumn Products offers a full line of beanies in an amazing assortment of colors. These medium-weight beanies feature a three-inch cuff to keep your ears toasty warm while the Acrylic weave offers good breathability—perfect for winter sports and cold-weather hiking.
New Venture sunglasses from Smith provide essential eye protection against glaring snow. This modern approach to classic glacier glasses features a round lens frame design comprised of super lightweight Evolve™ bio-based material with adjustable QuickFit temple arms for all-day comfort. Sun and snow glare coverage are provided through the removable side shields that limit peripheral light and a removable nose piece provides added protection. Ventures are offered exclusively with ChromaPop™ lens technology in four different tint options to enhance contrast and natural color for terrain-boosting views of every wind drift and winter trail feature. And all ChromaPop™ lens options feature anti-fog and hydrophobic coatings for clear optics and easy cleaning.
The designers at Roark took some of their favorite fleece silhouettes from the past and updated them big time to ensure their performance matched the modern styling needed to take you from the trail to your favorite after-hike watering hole in style. The Landfall Fleece jacket is a perfect mid-layer option for chilly winter hikes with its full-zip design and a mock neck to shield against wind chill. These lightweight fleeces come complete with multiple zippered pockets to keep your hands warm and your valuables safe. And they are available in a wide range of color styles in men’s and women’s sizes.
Even on a day hike, no one wants to carry more weight than they have to. That’s what makes Hydro Flask’s 21-ounce Lightweight Standard Mouth Trail Series so great. Durable, yet 25% lighter than their other 21-ounce offerings, these stainless steel, insulated bottles are made for winter hiking and backpacking. The opening is ideal for quick sips, and the streamlined design fits easily in your pack—perfect for day hikes or longer backcountry adventures. And Hydro Flask’s TempShield®️ double-wall vacuum insulation keeps drinks cold up to 24 hours and hot beverages steaming up to 12 hours.
On days when the weather doesn’t require bibs or over-pants, Jetty’s Acadia 2.0 Utility Pant can be just the thing. These 100%, polyester knit pants offer good freedom of movement for heading up the trail and they look great just to wear around town. A zippered back pocket and hip cellphone pocket make it easy to keep valuables safe and electronics easily accessible. Want some extra insulation? Check out their York lined pants that offer an extra layer of Oystex for additional warmth.
Now female hikers can make frozen feet a thing of the past with new Rosie Winter Boots from Forsake. Designed just for women (men will want to check out the similar Whitetail Mid), these boots are lightweight, super-comfortable, and ultra-warm thanks to 200g Thinsulate® insulation. A waterproof membrane and taped seams prevent moisture leaks while a Compression EVA midsole optimized for shock absorption prevents jarring stone bruises on the trail. Maximum traction on wintery surfaces is provided by a slip-resistant, GlacialGrip outsole and Recycled PET linings with anti-odor treatment keep Rosie’s (and your feet) smelly fresh.
Quality socks that breath are key to keeping your feet warm on the trail during winter hikes. Gordini socks merge two distinct fiber layers together into a single knit to create a quilted affect, which increases the thermal benefits, as well as breathability and moisture transfer. Additionally, their socks feature OrbitKNIT ribbing technology, which offers a comfortable and secure fit that stays put without constriction or unpleasant sock marks. And their single-seam construction closes at the toe, preventing hot spots, friction, and bunching. It’s all part of the high-quality winter line from Gordini that includes gloves, mittens, and goggles, too.