Cold weather hiking tips: Essential advice

Hiking in cold weather does not have to be miserable

When the cold weather rolls in, your hiking adventures don’t need to stop. There are a range of things you can do to stay safe and comfortable during your winter hikes. Here are some of our top tips.

Layer Your Clothing

Learn how to layer properly to maximise your warmth and comfort on the trail. The Mountain Designs How to Layer guide takes you through each step if you’re not sure where to start. Here’s a brief run-down of each layer:

  1. Base layer: This layer manages moisture and heat. You’ll want to choose a material that is breathable, moisture wicking and warm.
  2. Mid layer: This is used to protect you against the wind and keep you dry. Your mid layer should also be breathable and moisture wicking while protecting you from the wind.
  3. Outer layer: Your outer layer is a shield against the rain and wind. This should fit comfortably over your base and mid layer without being too big.

Choose Fast Drying Clothes

Choose fast drying clothes for your hike to minimise heat loss from sweat or rain. They’re also handy if you’re on a multi-day hike and need to wash and dry them overnight.


Take a thermos with your favourite hot drink or soup. A quality thermos can keep your drink or food warm for up to 8 hours – that’s a solid day of hiking!

Stay Hydrated and Eat

Your body uses up energy to stay warm in the cold. It’s important to drink plenty of water and choose energy-high foods such as jerky, nuts, dried fruits and bread to compensate.

Check the Forecast

A simple but important thing to do is check the forecast. Check the temperatures, wind chill and weather predictions for the day you’ll be hiking.

Don’t Sweat It

Be aware that sweat will bring your temperature down because it’s your body’s way of cooling off. If you start to sweat, take a layer off.

Look After Your Extremities

Maximise your warmth with a beanie, gloves, warm socks and a neck gaiter. These are small and easy to pack away if you don’t need them, but can make a big difference if it’s chilly outside.

Take Short Breaks

The longer your break, the colder you get. It’s as simple as that. If you do need a longer break to recharge, put on another layer until you start moving again.

Take a Waterproof Pack Cover

There’s no point carrying extra layers if they get wet. A good pack cover is lightweight and compact, making them easy to add to your gear. Even if you’re not expecting rain, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t let cold weather hold you back – use these simple tips to improve your winter hiking experience. For more winter tips, read How to Stay Warm While Winter Camping and How to Layer.

Contributor: Mountain Designs

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