Whether you’re a seasoned winter hiker pro or just enjoy the occasional winter ramble, having the right gear can mean the difference between braving and embracing the cold while you’re out on the trail. From boots to hats, there’s plenty of well-designed, high-tech gear that’s sure to keep you warm, dry, and happy on any winter adventure, and with so many products to choose from and gear guides to peruse, finding the right stuff can be a challenge. So here are five winter hiking essentials to consider this year as the holiday shopping season begins to warm up.
adidas Slopecruiser Boot ($125)
If you’re looking for a lightweight boot that leans more towards a high-top sneaker than something clunky, adidas has your answer with the Slopecrusier. But don’t be fooled—this thing is definitely still a boot fit for all kinds of sloppy, snowy, and gushy terrain. With its ClimaProof membrane, PrimaLoft insulation, and rubber grid traction pattern, you’re bound to stay dry, warm, and on two feet during short winter treks. Another cool feature: the heel sports a handy clip to keep your pant legs from trailing behind you in the mush.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System ($99.95)
Jetboil’s portable, handy cookware has won numerous product design awards over the past few years, and it’s consistently made gear lists compiled by Outside magazine and Backcountry magazine for good reason. Aside from compacting easily into the device’s main cooking pot, the Jetboil Flash also makes cooking quick and easy with a thermochromic heat indicator that turns orange when your water is just about at boiling point. The neoprene cozy on the cooking cup also provides some extra insulation and protection for safe handling.
Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Baselayer ($95)
Base layers are the unsung heroes of the winter hiking ensemble, but they’re nothing to skimp on. Smartwool’s merino wool products typically do a fine job of wicking and warming, and the NTS Mid 250 is no exception. Its snug but breathable fit means it can pull double duty as either a freezing temp base layer or a spring hike outer layer without collecting pools of sweat or retaining unwanted odors.
Kahtoola Microspikes ($64.95)
If you’re going vertical on snowy or slippery trails, a pair of micro crampons can add some much welcome winter traction. With their stretchy harness, the Kahtoola Microspikes can strap right over your hiking boots when you need them and snap right off when you don’t—hands-free or fully gloved. The 3/8-inch spikes add even more foot placement insurance when you need it the most.
Columbia Alpine Stunner Jacket ($200)
This one might be overkill depending on the temp and level of hiking you’re up to, but rest assured, no matter what line of duty you rely on this jacket for, it will perform. The Alpine Stunner makes use of Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology, making sure you stay toasty, while its Omni-Tech waterproof outer layer and generous underarm vents make sure you stay dry as well.
Image courtesy Grand Canyon NPS on the Creative Commons