The best gear to stay warm and safe on a snow hike

Hiking in the snow is a completely different experience from hiking in the summertime. Not only are trails less crowded, but they’re also transformed into a magical landscape by snowfall. However, hiking in the snow comes with its own safety concerns to keep in mind. You’ll want specific gear that you otherwise wouldn’t need on the trail. 

What you need for hiking in the snow

Packing for a snow hike

Keeping warm and dry when hiking in the snow is essential. You’ll need more layers and more equipment than you would for a hike in nice weather. Consider bringing a first aid kit, an emergency blanket and a flashlight in case the shorter day catches up with you. Carry this additional gear in a large winter backpack, and make sure it’s waterproof to protect your belongings.

Dress for the weather

Layering is key for a comfortable snow hike. Weather conditions can change, and it’s better to be overprepared than suffer frostbite. Pick a wool or wool blend base layer, then top it with a fleece or down middle layer followed by wind and waterproof shell. All your outer layers, including boots, should be waterproof.

Remember to bring winter essentials such as gloves, hats and scarves. Depending on the conditions, you may also want to bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare.

Best gear for hiking in the snow

Best Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Tech Leggings

Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Tech Leggings

These lightweight yet warm merino wool leggings resist developing odors and help regulate your body temperature. This base layer is soft and warm, featuring a comfortable brushed elastic waistband and flatlock seams that won’t chafe. Despite being made from 100% merino wool, it’s still machine-washable.

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Best Helly Hansen Warm Freeze Half-Zip Base Layer

Helly Hansen Warm Freeze Half-Zip Base Layer

This lightweight wool blend base layer is ideal for medium- to high-intensity activities such as snow hiking. The merino wool blend fabric helps wick away moisture and keeps you warm while feeling less itchy than pure wool. It’s available in several sporty color choices and features a half-zip at the collar.

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Best Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottom

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottom

Made from interlock knit 100% merino wool fabric, these thermals provide unbeatable warmth and breathability. Merino is softer and thinner than standard wool, so it’s more comfortable against your skin. It also resists odors and provides excellent thermal regulation. The leggings feature a slim fit with a merino-covered elastic waistband.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

Best Smartwool Classic Hike Extra Cushion Crew Socks

Smartwool Classic Hike Extra Cushion Crew Socks

The extra padding in these socks keeps feet warm on snowy trails. Made from a machine-washable merino wool blend, these socks feature crew height for extra coverage and elasticized arches for better support. They are warm and durable and should last for years.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Best Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Straw with Lid

Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Straw with Lid

Stay warm and hydrated on a winter hike with this durable, leak-proof 32-ounce bottle. This sturdy insulated tumbler can keep hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. The stainless steel construction gives your drink a clean, refreshing taste. It has a built-in carrying loop for convenient portability.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

Best Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket

This durable waterproof jacket with a fleece-lined neck will keep you dry and comfortable in all conditions. It features a two-way adjustable hood and zippered pockets to keep your essentials safe.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods 

Best Carhartt Waterproof Insulated Gloves

Carhartt Waterproof Insulated Gloves

These gloves are ideal for damp, snowy conditions thanks to the tight wrist strap that traps in heat while keeping out ice and snow. Moisture-wicking fabric keeps hands dry and comfortable.

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Best Buff Multifunctional Neckwear

Buff Multifunctional Neckwear

Made of 100 percent merino wool, this versatile neck gaiter can be worn more than a dozen different ways, including as a balaclava and cap. The material provides natural moisture-wicking for maximum comfort.

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Best Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie

Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie 

Designed by a trusted brand, this soft beanie features stretchy rib knit for a cozy, comfortable fit. It comes in more than 30 colors to suit any style.

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Best The North Face Aconcagua Insulated Vest

The North Face Aconcagua Insulated Vest

If you want something that doesn’t feel too bulky, this insulated vest is perfect to zip up over a sweater. It features warm, windproof construction, a water-repellent finish and pockets for your hands.

Sold by Amazon

Best Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

Available in 11 colors, this rugged, lightweight backpack features a roomy main compartment to hold enough gear for a night or two, as well as a sleeping bag holder. The adjustable padded shoulder straps provide a comfortable fit. It also comes with bungee storage for jackets, side pockets for your small essentials, and a rainfly to keep the pack dry.

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Best Columbia Womens Ice Maiden Snow Boots

Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden Snow Boots 

These warm, comfortable boots are perfect for taking on snowy conditions. Not only are they waterproof, but they’re lightweight, flexible and look great, too. 

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Best Columbia Men's Bugaboot III Snow Boot

Columbia Men’s Bugaboot III Snow Boot 

Waterproof and durable, these top-rated boots are cushioned and breathable for comfort. The superior traction makes them ideal for wearing in the snow. 

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Best Cimkiz Crampons

Cimkiz Crampons

Sometimes regular hiking boots won’t cut it on icy ground. That’s when you need crampons for extra traction to ensure you stay safe and enjoy your hike.  

Sold by Amazon

Best Maui Jim Ho-okipa Rectangular Sunglasses

Maui Jim Hookipa Rectangular Sunglasses 

When the sun hits the snow, it certainly looks beautiful, but it can also create a harsh glare that can damage your eyes. These sporty sunglasses from the high-quality brand Maui Jim use PolarizedPlus2 technology to eliminate 99.9% of the glare and block all UV rays for comfort and clarity.  

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