Winter hiking: our tips for the best equipment

winter hiking

The winter season offers a magical backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts, but it also brings its own unique challenges. Hiking even in winter is possible, but winter hiking requires careful preparation and the right equipment to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. In this article, we explore the different aspects of winter hiking, highlighting the crucial importance of proper equipment.

The challenges of winter hiking

Winter hiking presents unique challenges, with unpredictable weather conditions and often slippery terrain. Managing the cold, reduced visibility and the need for special equipment add an extra dimension to the adventure, requiring careful preparation for a successful experience.

How to protect yourself from the cold when hiking in winter: the importance of appropriate equipment

In winter, it's vital to maintain a constant body temperature when hiking. That's why the choice of hiking clothing is so important in your preparation. Practicality dictates that it should be easy to adjust clothing layers according to activity and outside temperature. The ability to remove or add layers quickly becomes essential to adapt effectively to changing conditions while ensuring optimum comfort during effort.

Basic winter hiking clothing

The first line of defense against the cold starts with basic clothing. Here are the essentials to consider:

Thermal base layers

Thermal base layers provide extra insulation while wicking away moisture, maintaining optimal body temperature.

Insulation and intermediate layers

Optimize your hiking comfort with the three-layer strategy, modular and effective:

  1. The first breathable layer: This can be an undergarment or T-shirt made from synthetic fibers or merino wool for efficient wicking of perspiration. Merino offers the advantage of antibacterial properties, making it effective against odors. This first barrier keeps you dry, even on the most intense climbs.

  1. The second insulating layer: Invest in a fleece, micro-fleece or softshell to retain body heat. These versatile options offer optimum insulation, adjusting your temperature as the climate changes.

  1. The windproof, waterproof third layer: Equip yourself with a Gore-Tex jacket or equivalent to protect you from the elements. This outer layer keeps wind and rain out, ensuring reliable protection in all weather conditions.

Adapt your hiking outfit to the conditions by doubling up on layers, for example with a down jacket, to stay comfortably warm in the harshest weather. 

Weatherproof jackets and pants

When it comes to choosing the ideal stocking for your winter hike, there are three practical options. First of all, classic hiking pants are ideal when temperatures and snow depths are not extreme.

For added warmth, opt for the second option: hiking pants with fleece lining, guaranteeing protection against the coldest temperatures. 

Finally, a versatile alternative is to choose summer or winter hiking pants, which you can complement with a waterproof overtrouser. While the latter doesn't specifically add warmth, it does provide effective protection against moisture, keeping you comfortably dry on your outdoor adventures. Make the choice that best suits your needs.

Heated clothing for winter hiking

A revolutionary innovation in winter hiking is the introduction of heated garments, such as the G-Heat range.

G-Heat products incorporate advanced heating technology to provide optimum warmth, keeping hikers comfortable even in the coldest conditions.

Advantages of heated clothing for hiking

Heated garments provide targeted warmth, promoting increased blood circulation and reducing the risk of hypothermia. They also offer flexibility, allowing hikers to adjust the heat to suit their needs.

How heated garments enhance the hiking experience

Heated garments greatly enhance the hiking experience by providing optimal thermal comfort in harsh weather conditions: 

  1. Targeted heat: heating elements integrated into the garments specifically target cold-sensitive areas, such as the back, hands or feet. This helps maintain a pleasant body temperature, even in freezing weather.

  1. Reduced Thermal Stress: By preventing hypothermia and reducing the risk of frostbite, heated garments reduce thermal stress during winter hiking. This allows hikers to stay focused on their adventure rather than on fighting the cold.

  1. Flexibility and mobility: Unlike thick, bulky layers, heated garments are often thin and flexible, preserving the hiker's mobility. This facilitates walking and climbing without sacrificing warmth.

  1. Autonomy: With built-in rechargeable batteries, heated garments offer autonomy that can last for the duration of the hike. Some models even let you adjust the temperature to suit individual preferences.

  1. Versatility: Whether for a day hike or a longer expedition, heated garments adapt to a variety of weather conditions, offering a versatile solution for outdoor enthusiasts.

Essential equipment for winter hiking

Winter hiking is all about protecting every part of your body from frostbite and hypothermia. At the summit, the mercury can plummet, and inadequate equipment can jeopardize the whole excursion.

Heated gloves and socks

Keep your extremities warm by using heated gloves and socks for constant warmth. Choose heated mittens or heated under-gloves for easy handling of your backpack while hiking.

Heated socks are also an excellent option, preventing snow from penetrating your shoes and keeping your feet dry. 

Heated jackets

For the third layer, opt for a lightweight, waterproof, hooded jacket rather than a heavy, low-modulability ski jacket. The key lies in the membrane's waterproofing and breathability, rather than insulation, ensuring effective protection. The range's Softshell heated jacket is an excellent solution: windproof and water-repellent, its light weight will give you the mobility you need.

Caps and hoods for head protection

To stay comfortable and protected during your winter hikes, don't neglect the warmth of your head. Opt for a hat, ear band and buff for optimum insulation, as the head is a major source of body heat loss. And don't forget to add the right sunglasses to your equipment. On snow, the sun's reverberation can cause eye damage, up to and including snow ophthalmia. Choose sunglasses with a level 4 protection factor, especially if your eyes are light. Bear in mind that their use is forbidden and dangerous while driving. 

Winter hiking boots

Hiking boots specially designed for winter, with the option of opening heated soles, ensure optimum comfort on snow-covered trails.

Practical advice: In my hiking backpack there are ...

To optimize your winter hiking experience, follow our practical advice in the complete starter pack for good hikers:

Useful accessories

Removable snowshoes, poles and crampons are invaluable allies for saving energy and making progress on snow-covered terrain easier.

Important Hydration and Nutrition

In cold weather, the sensation of cold can be intense. Carry heaters, a warm thermos and a survival blanket to cope with sub-zero temperatures. Cold weather increases the need for energy, so stay hydrated and take energy snacks during the hike, such as cereal bars or dried fruit.

Orientation and Safety in Snowy Environments

In winter, beacons are buried under the snow and trails are invisible, increasing the risk of getting lost. Use a mobile hiking app, a dedicated GPS or opt for the classic TOP25 map with compass to find your way in the mountains.

Off the beaten track, equip yourself with an avalanche safety kit comprising an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. This essential equipment should always be at hand to guarantee your safety when winter hiking. 

Successful winter hiking requires careful preparation and the right equipment. Heated clothing, in particular the G-Heat range, proves to be a valuable addition to a comfortable and memorable winter hiking experience. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or a novice enthusiast, investing in quality equipment will guarantee an unforgettable winter adventure.