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How to Dress for Hiking in Cold Weather

Jan 10, 2020

When it is winter or you are visiting a northerly region, hiking presents a way to stay active despite the weather. It also presents an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the landscape as unblemished blankets of freshly-fallen snow cover it. But to keep yourself safe and comfortable, you need to wear the appropriate clothes for the conditions. Here’s how to dress for hiking in cold weather.


Believe it or not, it’s not a good idea to simply pile on as many layers as possible and only think about warmth. You still generate sweat as you hike, and you can end up losing heat even more rapidly if moisture covers you under all your clothes. For this reason, you should wear a base layer that can wick away your sweat and dry quickly. Choose synthetic materials or merino wool over cotton, which retains water for long periods.

Over this base layer, you should have an insulating mid-layer that retains warmth, such as a fleece or a puffer jacket. Again, be careful of moisture here. Though down-filled jackets will insulate you, they lose that capability if they become wet. Synthetics are preferable if you experience exposure to water or high humidity.

On top of everything else, you should have a water-resistant or waterproof outer layer to protect you from precipitation and wind. Many refer to the jackets that serve this function as shells, and you should try to find one that not only repels water but is also breathable.


Unlike with the tops, your legs usually only need two layers: a base layer and an outer layer. The base layer should serve the function of wicking sweat and warming you a bit if needed, and it should, therefore, consist of synthetic fabric.

Your outer pants should be of a shell material that stops water and wind just like your outer jacket. If you go for inner pants that you could wear alone, you may also look for the ability to zip the outer pants at the sides. This will allow you to put them on and take them off easily as you get colder or warmer throughout your hike.


The state of your feet is of great importance when cold-weather hiking because they are in the closest contact with the frozen surfaces and snow. Outdoor hiking boots that combine breathability, durability, and waterproof qualities are thus a must to prevent your feet from freezing due to moisture and low temperature. Look at the materials of boots to find a pair that includes all these elements. AltaiGear’s boots accomplish this by combining a SuperFabric® outer with a polyester inner lining. This allows them to block environmental moisture from entering while also wicking sweat away from your feet. Besides paying attention to materials, it can further help to find boots with a higher height. This way, water has even less chance of getting inside and defeating the purpose of the water-blocking properties.

Additionally, you should make sure the sole has rugged traction to prevent slipping on the uneven wet or icy terrain that you will be traversing. A high-quality sole material to look out for is Vibram, as it is slip-resistant, durable, and flexible.

For waterproof outdoor boots that push the limits of technology to bring you comfort and utility for your cold-weather hiking needs, call AltaiGear today. Our emphasis on exceptional materials and construction offers full support for your feet and protects them even in the most rigorous treks you embark on.

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