Layering for Winter Hikes
When it comes to being comfortable out on the trail in the winter, layers are your best friend. Once you master the art of layering you will be able to hit the trails year round.
Layer 1 – Baselayer
This is the layer closest to your skin. You want a layer that will help you to regulate your body temperature. Wool or synthetics are the best options for this layer. It is important to stay away from cotton. Cotton takes longer to dry and doesn’t wick sweat away like wool or synthetics. Just remember, “Cotton is rotten!” I prefer Smartwool, but Patagonia Capilene is popular as is The North Face Summit Series L1 and Under Armour for baselayers.
Layer 2 – Midlayer
Now it’s time to start adding the warmth. The most popular midlayer out there is fleece. I prefer a lighter weight, breathable fleece so I don’t sweat too much. You are looking for a layer that adds warmth but doesn’t cause you to overheat.
Layer 3 – Insulation
Here is where you trap more of the heat in. Your insulation could be down filled or synthetic. It should be pretty windproof and water resistant. My go-to insulation this year has been The North Face Ventrix Jacket. I used the Ventrix as my outer layer on a snowshoe hike in New Hampshire when it was -9 degrees with 20 mph winds. It blocked the wind, snow brushed off, and it let out excess heat. You really want your insulation piece to be full zip for easy on and off. Many people also prefer to have a hood on their insulation piece for added warmth.
Layer 4 – Shell
Your shell is your windproof, waterproof outer most layer. It is your weather protection and is often carried year-round for hikes. This can range from an insulated technical mountaineering piece to your everyday Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket.