Winter Hiking Clothes: What To Wear To Stay Warm And Look Stylish

Enjoying the winter season in the backcountry is breathtaking and awe inspiring. But when it is snowing or freezing cold outside, it’s not easy to figure out what winter hiking clothes to wear to stay warm and look stylish.

It’s simple to come up with cute outfits for fall hiking in cold weather, from lightweight tank tops and shorts to windbreakers and leggings. The options are much easier to put together.

Dressing for winter hiking requires much more preparation in regards to clothing and footwear. Its important to stay comfortable, warm and dry throughout the entire trail. 

Follow basic hiking tips so that you are well prepared. There are many more dangers and hazards when it comes to winter hiking.

Therefore, the proper winter hiking clothes and bringing along basics from the essential gear list for a day hike is imperative. Explore the outdoors, even in cold weather, with the best winter hiking clothes.

In addition, remember the core principles of leave no trace. Its important to practice so that others are able to enjoy the same natural experience. Preserve our wilderness spaces so that we don’t further impact the land.

Put on your warm base layers and winter hiking clothes because we’re headed out into the backcountry!


Winter Hiking Clothes To Wear

What To Wear For Winter Hiking

source: @sandylarissa

Having an outdoor capsule wardrobe helps you to get organized more efficiently. As a result, it is so much easier to get dressed with no need to worry about what winter hiking clothes to wear.

Cold weather means layering up and also switching to winter hiking clothes that are warm, insulated, and weatherproof. Let’s cover the basics necessary so that we are able to safely enjoy the outdoors in cold weather.


What do you wear hiking in cold weather?

Here are 3 layering tricks, because you must cover your skin properly in cold weather. As a result, you will avoid exposure to freezing temperatures and cold wind on your hands, feet, and head. Those body parts lose the most heat and are especially susceptible to frostbite.

  • For hands: You need dual layer gloves to keep your fingers and hands warm. Wear lightweight fleece gloves underneath waterproof shell gloves. In case of emergency, pack an extra pair of fleece gloves with you.
  • For feet: Choose thicker socks that are made with synthetic or wool fabric for increased insulation. But make sure they are not too tight or they will block blood circulation when wearing boots.
  • For head: Wear the warmest winter hat, neck gaiter, and headband to cover your ears, nose, and cheeks.

Always keep your head warm by wearing a hat so you don’t lose excessive body heat. In addition, avoid any tight clothing which will result in poor blood circulation and cause frostbite. Make sure all your winter hiking clothing fits properly.


How do you stay warm in winter hiking clothes?

Staying warm in winter hiking clothes is the number one priority for every serious outdoors lover. Understanding the proper way to dress is essential. It doesn’t matter if you invest in expensive winter hiking clothes, knowing how to properly layer underneath your outerwear is important.

There are many types of outdoors clothing to choose from in order to stay warm and look stylish. Always remember to drink lots of water and maintain good blood circulation to keep you warm in your winter hiking clothes.


Winter Layering Guide

Winter Layering Guide

source: @nicolebelaire

Always dress up in 3 layers: a base layer, a middle layer, and outer layer. Winter hiking clothes always begins with the best base layers for cold weather, followed by essential outwear pieces.

Layers create protection from the elements like wind, rain or snow, and also insulation to maintain necessary body heat. These are the fundamental principles behind the winter layering guide.

  • A base layer: Avoid any cotton or cotton blend base layers. Instead, stick with synthetic and merino wool, which dry quickly and wick moisture away from your skin. If you are hiking in the snow, it’s a smart idea to wear multiple base layers.
  • A middle layer: Most people ignore wearing a middle layer. It is the most important layer because it helps to insulate and maintain your body heat. For a middle layer, choose down or fleece clothing.
  • An outer layer: Look for waterproof, windproof, and ventilation features when shopping for a proper winter outer layer. Stick with Gore-Tex and eVent, which are the best options for warmth and breathability. Try to stay away from polyurethane-coated fabrics.

Winter clothing keeps you warm by trapping in body heat. But being active creates perspiration.

As a result, you need to move the body moisture away from the skin and towards the outer layer quickly. For the best results, stay with wool or synthetic quick-drying materials to help evaporate the sweat more efficiently.


Winter Hiking Outfits

Winter Hiking Outfits

rain jacket / puffer jacket / top / leggings / gloves / vest / boots / hat / socks

When it comes to putting together outfit ideas for winter hiking clothes, heavy pants and puffer jackets are the best option. However, consider thermal layers such as leggings and turtleneck tops as base layer essentials to stay extra warm.


Layering For Snow

Layering For Snow

source: @ambpitch

When layering for snow, you need 4 layers of clothing instead of just 3. These layers for snowy weather consist of a base layer, insulating layers, an outer layer, and insulating outerwear.

  • Base Layers: Choose affordable synthetic base layers or naturally odor-resistance wool base layer thermal leggings and long sleeve top. Both types come in different material weights from light to heavy.
  • Insulating Layers: Stay away from cotton and look for synthetic or light wool blend clothes. A thin knit merino wool is the best option.
  • Outer Layer: A lightweight and weatherproof puffer jacket or rain jacket is perfect. It works as an additional insulating outer layer worn underneath an insulating outerwear.
  • Insulating Outerwear: Choose a synthetic insulated outerwear for mild winter weather. For extreme cold winter weather, go with down outerwear.

Make sure to always check the temperature and weather conditions before heading into the backcountry or mountains.

Winter hiking clothes require more care to make the right choice and know what to wear to stay warm. Only one piece of clothing will not make you warm. Instead, layering winter hiking clothes properly with outdoor gear works the best for snowy weather.


What To Wear Hiking In Cold Weather

What To Wear Hiking In Cold Weather

source: @alwaysmeliss

Being prepared for what to wear hiking in cold weather is critical for anyone who plans to explore the outdoors.

Always check the temperature and weather before heading out on a backcountry trail. It’s important to wear the proper layers to stay warm and dry while hiking in winter.

Mountain weather changes quickly, you need to be prepared for any weather conditions, including snow. Because of high elevation, you don’t know what to expect temperature wise.

The most important part of all, make sure your base layers are moisture wicking and made with polyester or wool.

No matter how cold it is, at some point you will begin sweating with or without a heavy backpack. Because the moisture gets trapped between your skin and clothes, you will feel cold very quickly.

Even though you are wearing heavy outerwear, if the sweat cools on your skin it will cause hypothermia.


What To Wear Hiking In 40 Degree Weather

What To Wear Hiking In 40 Degree Weather

source: @carriemeonmyway

Not all winter temperatures feel the same and require the same winter hiking clothes. In order to know what to wear when hiking in 40 degree weather, first  start layering with fall hiking clothing.

Always start with a light synthetic t-shirt and then add a long sleeve fleece outerwear with a hood. Also, a flannel shirt or wool sweater are great options for additional pieces to pack in a backpack.

In case of rain, you need to bring along a water resistant rain jacket.

When it comes to footwear, layer a pair of thin wool socks underneath thick socks in addition to your winter snow boots.


Best Winter Hiking Boots

Winter Hiking Boots

source: @fashionablysurfed

When looking for the best winter hiking boots, you need to look for insulation, comfort, waterproof and grip features.

Trying on winter hiking boots is a great place to start, but you need to know how to properly fit boots. They should fit snug everywhere and give enough room to wiggle your toes.

Make sure nowhere is tight. It is recommended to try on boots when your feet are swollen at the end of a hike, with a pair of socks that you wear while hiking.

There are many brands that carry high-quality winter hiking boots. It depends on your style and the amount of hiking you are planning to do this winter. Here are some of the best winter hiking boots on the market today!

  • Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV
  • Salomon Quest Winter GTX
  • Cabela’s Snow Runner
  • Keen Durand Polar
  • Merrell Moab Polar
  • Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry
  • Sorel Conquest
  • The North Face Shellista II
  • Kamik Momentum

When looking for the perfect boots for a winter hike, make sure to consider if you are hiking in the snow or not. Having spikes on the bottom of your boots provides better grip while walking in the snow.


Best Winter Hiking Pants

Winter Hiking Pants

source: @brittany_hikes_all_day

From leggings to shorts, warm weather makes it much easier to know what to wear when hiking. But when it comes to winter hiking clothes, it is not so easy to dress up to stay warm and look stylish.

Wearing regular hiking pants works in mild winter weather. When you are planning to hike in the snow or much colder environments, always choose a pair of pants with these features:

  • Adjustable waist
  • Ultralight
  • Increased flexibility
  • Thermal insulation
  • Waterproof
  • On Budget

The best place to start when looking for winter hiking pants is to look for a breathable and waterproof material with an inside lining to add insulation.


Dressing up in stylish hiking outfits is so much easier than layering up in winter hiking clothes. Wearing the right winter hiking clothes and gear will help you to stay warm and look stylish throughout the trail.

If you don’t have an outdoor capsule wardrobe, start to build strong basic essentials for each season. As a result, you will be ready to hike anytime, anywhere and in any weather condition.

What do you wear when hiking in winter?

Share your winter hiking outfit ideas with us!


fashion wanderer

Winter Hiking: What To Wear To Stay Warm And Look Stylish

Soonjoo Uh

I graduated with a bachelors of fine arts degree in fashion design. I worked in the fashion industry as a lead designer for major brand name labels such as Stitch Fix, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and Dillards. Now, I am the founder of the website Fashion Wanderer where I share current fashion trends, style tips and how to build a capsule wardrobe collection.

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