Two hikers in snow

How to dress for your winter adventure

When it comes to an outdoor excursion during the winter months, clothing can make or break your experience.

If you’re cold or wet it’s going to be much more difficult for you to enjoy your time in the outdoors. Making sure you’re properly outfitted for whatever weather comes your way is crucial. Here’s how to dress for a great day out in the snow!

Layers, layers, layers

You burn up energy andPerson wearing warm clothes get warmer as the day goes on, so being able to adjust your layers is critical to staying dry (the key to being comfortable and safe).

Sure, this can sometimes mean taking a layer off, but savvy winter adventurers choose the right options.

This might mean wearing an outer shell that packs down into a small carry bag (slinging a heavy jacket over your shoulder for half of your hike can be a real pain). It could also mean choosing options with airflow zippers that can be adjusted as you ramble.

Here’s how to get it right…

1. Start out with a merino wool base layer

This layer is designed to evaporate sweat and keep you dry under your other, additional layers. Merino undergarments will keep you warm and dry, even when your body’s working hard!

man and woman walking in snow

Naturally antimicrobial, merino does not retain odours, and therefore does not need to be washed after each wear. In fact, the less often you wash your merino wool socks, sweaters, and underwear, the better they will be!

2. Next, you need an insulating mid-layer

This layer’s purpose is to keep warmth near the body. While your base layer helps you stay dry, this layer helps you stay warm. And we’re all for that!

Woman in snow

What’s the difference between down- and synthetic-filled insulated jackets?

If you prefer to take a light stroll and won’t be exerting a lot of physical energy, a down jacket is the way to go. It’ll keep you warm even when you’re not moving around much. Lightweight and highly compressible, down is also good for layering, and has a durability that’s hard to beat.

Synthetic jackets are hypoallergenic, easier to maintain, and more economical. They also have more moisture resistance. That said, they’re also less durable and bulkier.

3. Top it off with a shell

This is especially key on a rainier, snowier, or windier day.

Either a soft shell or a Gore-Tex jacket will help retain the warmth you’re generating. Make sure it’s wind- and water-proof and that you can move around easily in it.

Don’t forget your head, hands, neck, and feet!

Try a light synthetic or wool toque for your head, and neck warmer or gaiter.

Neck warmers are super versatile. You can put it up to protect your chin or whole face, like a balaclava. Depending on the material, gaiters typically have excellent heat retention, wind protection, and moisture management.

People skiing

Socks and mitts are important because your body loses warmth from these extremities. Keeping them covered is also part of regulating your body temperature and keeping you warm.

Well-stocked pockets and pack

Tuck small items — like lip balm, sunscreen (the sun’s rays reflect even more off the snow in the winter!), a whistle, spare gloves — in your pockets. Snacks, like dried fruit and trail mix, are a great way to keep yourself fueled throughout your hike.

And, of course, don’t forget your water bottle! For the full list of what we put in our backpacks for a winter hike, check out this guide.

Heated clothing and accessories

When your body doesn’t produce enough heat, your muscles contract and blood is drawn from your extremities. No one likes that feeling.

Heated clothing and other accessories can change the way you experience winter.  Your mittens, jacket, and even the soles in your boots can make up for the lack of warmth and let you enjoy nature, even in the coldest weather.

Heated clothing will work anywhere you feel that little shiver that indicates a heat deficit. Use these items to maximize your comfort whatever the weather conditions.

See you on the trails!