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  • Writer's pictureKress

Winter Hiking Tips

Winter is here in full force! The weather is chilly, and our favourite trails are covered in snow and ice, BUT that is no excuse to stay inside and not get outside. In this post, I'm going to break down my top tips for hiking in the winter. I am in no way an expert, but I've done my fair share of winter hiking, and I've learned from my mistakes. Read on so that you don't make the same mistakes I have!

First things first: remember that winter hiking is harder, and it takes more energy to huck through snow no matter how easy you think that trail is. Make sure you keep this in mind when planning your adventure. You need to be taking in more water and extra snacks. You need to be choosing your trail carefully with your physical fitness level, and pace in mind. Start with shorter trails and work your way up. Aim to be off the trail at least 2 hours before sunset! There is nothing cool about getting lost in the woods in the dark.


So you want to hike, but it's -15 outside and you're worried you'll be too chilly? Here are my tips for getting dressed from head to toe.

The key is layers!

On my head, I like to wear my hair down or in braids with a warm toque or headband. My ears get super cold so this is essential for me!

On top, I like to have a base long sleeve, one of my favourite fleece sweaters, and my winter puffer. You'll probably warm right up when you're hiking so, being able to fit your coat into your backpack is ideal! Also, don't forget something for your hands (gloves or mittens!)

Pants are a little more up for debate. I don't love layering on the bottom unless it's snow pants because I hate feeling constricted. HOWEVER, you can't go wrong with leggings under a pair of joggers. Having some sort of water-resistant clothing on the bottom is good for warmth, and I recommend thinking about the length of your trek and if you think you might get a little snow-covered. I have fleece lined leggings that are water-resistant, and they have held up amazing on my winter hikes!

On my feet, I wear a pair of my favourite warm socks. I have Carhartt socks that are super warm and have been great. Any warm thermal sock will keep your toes toasty on the trail.

I would avoid clothes that are cotton because they will absorb lots of moisture which can cool you down drastically. Stick to other fabrics for optimal warmth! You don't want to get wet. Wet = cold.


The gear you need for winter hiking can be quite different than in warmer months.

Snowshoes are great and make walking in deeper snow a lot easier. Snowshoeing, in general, is a great pastime and many provincial parks have trails designated as snowshoe trails!

Hiking spikes are also something you might want to consider if you're venturing out in the ice. Rocks, hills, and trails, in general, can be super slippery! Having spikes makes your adventure a whole lot safer. Nothing puts a damper on a day trip quite like slipping and breaking a bone or hitting your head on ice.

Headlamp! This may or may not already be in your day pack but if it isn't it needs to be. It gets darker faster in the winter. Having a headlamp could save you from trying to navigate a trail completely in the dark. You need to aim to be off the trail before dark but accidents happen, and it's better to be safe than sorry

Other gear to remember:

  • Water bottle ( at least 1 litre, but more is better!) Water bladders can freeze in cold temps so stick to wider mouth bottles to avoid this!

  • First aid kit

  • map/compass

  • chapstick

  • backpack (of course)

  • extras of socks, batteries, gloves etc


Snacks are an important part of any hike. This doesn't really change in the winter, but as mentioned before, winter hiking is more strenuous so, you need more water and food to keep up energy levels. This means more high protein snacks for your trip.

My favourite go to's:

  • Motts fruit gummies!

  • Cliff protein bars (my favourite is the banana chocolate chip or white chocolate macadamia nut)

  • Trail mix with lots of nuts and dried fruit

  • Cheese nip crackers or goldfish crackers are my favourite salty snack

  • Fruit like apples or oranges

Pack out your waste. Just because it is "natural" does not mean you can leave your garbage. That still leaves a trace.

Those are my top tips for winter hiking! I hope you found them useful and that you get outside this winter season!

If you go on any winter adventures make sure to tag me - @explorewithkress - I want to see all your adventures!

Stay warm and keep exploring!

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