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Winter Hiking Gear List for Beginners

Essential gear for winter hiking

Girl overlooking a view covered in snow using the winter hiking gear list for beginners
Winter hiking in Chile

With the arrival of winter, there is no need to hang up those hiking boots. With the proper winter hiking gear, you can hike all year and be comfortable doing it! Here is a list of gear that will make winter a lot more enjoyable. This list will only contain additional gear you should bring when winter hiking. If you're looking for a more in-depth hiking gear list, check out my Hiking Gear List for Beginners.

An important note for new winter hikers: your safety is your responsibility. Do not really on others to keep yourself safe. This means always researching a trail before you go (knowing the distance and time and anything else about it), bringing all the essential items with you (first aid, water, snacks, etc), and also speaking up on the trail if you think something is not safe (if you do not feel well/exhausted, not comfortable with a shortcut route).

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission (for which I am very grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Winter Hiking Gear for Beginners

Hiking Footwear

Boot using the winter hiking gear list for beginners

A good waterproof boot or shoe is required to keep your feet dry. I highly recommend a boot for winter hiking as the height gives a bit more protection from the snow.

shoes using the winter hiking gear list for beginners

Hiking Boot: Men's | Ladies

Hiking Shoe: Atmosphere | Amazon


Socks following the essential winter hiking gear list for beginners

You want socks that wick away sweat, keep your feet dry, and provide some cushion and warmth. Get socks that are made from wool or a polyester blend, do not get cotton! Always carry an extra pair of socks with you just in case your feet sweat. Lots of hiking socks come in different thicknesses. Make sure if you get thicker socks, your shoes/boots still fit properly.

Hiking Socks: Atmosphere | Amazon | Backcountry

Base Layers

Base layer bottom: winter hiking gear
Base layer top: winter hiking gear

Baselayers keep you warm while wicking away sweat. They come in different weight options (how thick the material will be) and which one you get will depend on how hot or cold you get when you do activities.

To give an example, I sweat a lot when I exercise, especially if I'm walking up a mountain. I rarely wear my baselayer leggings because I know I will get too hot. Instead, I always carry them in my bag and throw them on when I need them. The baselayer top is supposed to be the layer against your skin. I always wear an athletic t-shirt under because sometimes by the end of the hike, the only layers I have on are my t-shirt and down jacket.

Base layer bottoms: Amazon Base layer top: Amazon

Mid Layer

A mid layer is to help keep you insulated and warm and is usually a fleece or a down jacket/vest.

Down Jacket- winter hiking gear

Columbia Lake 22 Down Jacket

This adds a ton of extra warmth without the bulk! And it is very easy to layer with other layers.

Down Jacket: Amazon

Fleece top for winter hiking gear for beginners

Helly Hansen Fleece Hoodie

A fleece is a great addition, also providing a lot of warmth without the bulk.

Fleece: Amazon

Outer Shell

This is a waterproof or water-resistant layer. Make sure it fits over all of your layers.

Jacket following winter hiking gear for beginners

Marmot Pre-Clip Eco Jacket

This is a very thin rain jacket (more for summer) that doesn't weigh a lot but can pack down quite small.

Rain Jacket-winter hiking gear

Helly Hansen Seven J Waterproof Rain Jacket

This waterproof rain jacket is a bit thicker and provides a bit more warmth.

Rain Jacket: Amazon

Day Pack

Day Bag following the essential list for winter hiking gear

Osprey Mira 32L Day Bag

You need a backpack that's going to be able to hold all your extra layers, snacks, water, and anything else you might need to bring. Anywhere from 20-35L will let you fit everything you need. Also remember that whatever you are wearing, should also fit inside you're backpack.

Day Bag: Amazon


Gaiters-Winter Hiking list for beginners

Keep your feet dry by wearing gaiters that prevent snow or water from getting into your boots. You can get them in different lengths but I like the higher ones so you're always prepared for everything.

Gaiters: Amazon

Waterproof Pants

Waterproof pants- winter Hiking gear for beginners

Whether it is snow, wet snow, or the wind, they don't stand a chance against these guys. They are one of my favorite items to bring as you can never predict the weather when you are winter hiking. They are lightweight and take up very little space.

Waterproof Pants: Amazon

Waterproof Gloves

Waterproof gloves-list of winter hiking gear

A must for winter hiking to keep your hands dry and warm. If you have warm hands, thin glove liners might work better.

Waterproof gloves: Amazon


Spikes- winter Hiking gear essentials

One thing you won't get away from is the possibility of ice on a trail. Always carry spikes as trail conditions change the higher up you go,

Spikes: Amazon


Toque- winter Hiking gear for beginners

Buy one that has a fleece lining around the ears or is fleece lined. This will prevent the wind from coming in and keep your head a bit warmer.

Toque: Amazon

4. Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles-beginner winter gear guide

If you ever need to break trails (walk through snow that nobody else has walked on) or use them for support, hiking poles are a great addition to winter hiking.

Hiking Poles: Amazon

Rain Cover

Rain Cover-winter hiking for beginners

If your hiking bag does not come with a rain cover, I would highly recommend investing in one. Snow falling from trees and unpredictable winter conditions can leave your bag soaked.

Rain Cover: Amazon | Backcountry | Osprey

Battery Pack

Battery Pack-winter hiking for beginners

Always bring a battery pack when you go on a winter hike. The cold drains your phone and you can go from a charged phone to zero percent in an hour.

Power Bank: Amazon

Waterproof Case

Waterproof Case-winter hiking essentials list

This is definitely a must in the winter. Prevent any damage to your electronics by placing them in this waterproof case

Waterproof Case: Amazon | Backcountry | SealLine

Emergency Bivvy

Emergency Blanket-winter hiking essentials for beginners

You should always be prepared to stay overnight and an emergency bivvy can help you with that.

Emergency Bivy: Amazon

Sunscreen (face/lips)

Lip Sunscreen--winter hiking gear for beginners

I think most people forget about this but you can still really burn your face and lips during the winter especially if you're higher up in elevation and are exposed to the sun.

Lip Sunscreen: Amazon

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