How to Stay Warm While Hiking in the Winter

If you love to hike in summer, chances are you are itching to get outside in winter.  Problem is, what if like many, you hate the cold? Winter hiking can be an extraordinary experience, but taking the proper steps to stay warm can help make cold adventures a lot more enjoyable.  Check out these tips to stay warm below and put them to use for yourself in the frigid temps we’re sure to see in the coming months.


Rather than wearing one big bulky layer, you should try to use a 3 layer clothing system.

The first layer is a wicking layer. This layer is lightweight and breathable and you want it to contain some kind moisture-wicking fabric to keep sweat away from your skin.

The next mid layer is the insulation layer. This layer traps warm air next to your body and insulates you from the cold. Depending on the activity and weather, this layer could simply be another wicking base layer, a warm fleece or for very extreme conditions, down.

The last layer is your shell, which serves as wind protection. This keeps traps warm air inside your insulation layer and minimizes heat loss through convection.


There are three main ways to stay warm in winter, or to warm up again if you start to get cold. Food not only gives your body energy to move but it also creates heat. Just like putting a log on a fire, the calories in food keep you warm.

If you are in a position where you suddenly feel cold, immediately moving your body generates heat. Do jumping jacks, run in place, hop on one leg, it doesn’t matter. If you increase your activity level for even a few minutes you’ll experience immediate heat gain.

It’s often said, there is no such thing as cold weather, just not enough layers. If you’re cold, throw another layer – or that big down jacket. The more layers you have, the more heat will be trapped next to your body.


Your number one priority for keeping warm during any winter adventure is to make sure you don’t sweat.  Getting too warm while hiking in frigid temperatures can put you at risk of dropping your body temperature and even hypothermia. Moisture in the form of sweat replaces the warm air layer between you and your clothes.  If you sweat enough to dampen your base layers, it can cool down your body rapidly.  Be sure to add or remove layers as you heat up or cool down on the trail to ensure you stay dry and sweat free.


It doesn’t matter if it’s a two-month polar expedition or an afternoon snowshoe, we recommend always bringing a big down jacket along in your pack. When you stop for a snack or to take pictures, throw it on. This quickly adds substantial insulation and prevents your core body temperature from dropping too rapidly during a break. Bottom line – if you’re interested in keeping warm in the winter, get yourself some down outerwear. You won’t get as cold, and you’ll warm up much more quickly.


While it’s not the old school figure of 80%, you still lose a lot of heat through your head. So, if you’re wondering how to stay warm in winter, put on a hat, pull up your hood and zip up your jacket. Add a scarf or neck gaiter to keep warm from your neck to your nose. Don’t forget gloves and waterproof, insulated hiking boots to keep your extremities warm outside in the winter.


It is easy to overlook basic hydration in colder temperatures. After all, just getting out your water bottle and taking a sip can be a major effort. But it’s important to remember that blood transfers heat throughout your body, and when you’re dehydrated, your blood moves much more slowly, limiting its ability to circulate and keep you warm in the winter.