Winter is one of the most beautiful times of the year for an outdoor adventure. But a cold-weather hike can quickly turn miserable (and even dangerous) if you’re not properly prepared. Before you hit those snow-laden hills, check out these winter hiking tips:


1. Dress like a Cake... in layers

Before you get outside, layer-up. But don’t overdo it! Once you start hiking, you’ll heat up. If you put on too many layers and start sweating at the onset, you have a higher risk of hypothermia. It’s a tricky balance, but as a general guide, you should dress in three layers:

Base layer: your skin should be covered with fitted, wicking fabric, such as merino wool thermals or long johns.

Insulating layer: pull a fleece sweater or lightweight, synthetic layer on next.

Shell: your outer layer should be wind- and water-proof, such as a GORE-TEX™ jacket and pants.

Don’t forget to pack a balaclava, toque, scarf, mittens, gloves and extra socks. If you’re wandering into wet conditions, wear gaiters; if there is significant ice, bring crampons; for deep snow, consider snowshoes and trekking poles.

photoCourtesy of Oboz Footwear

2. Invest in Insulated Boots

There’s nothing worse than cold, wet feet on a hike—especially in the winter. Find your perfect fit for comfort and performance when tackling snowy and slushy trails.

The insulated collection by Oboz Footwear features B-DRY waterproof technology and Thinsulate® Insulation to keep your toes and soles extra toasty.

Women’s options range with 6-inch, 7-inch and 9-inch-tall tops. The warmest boot is the calf-height Bridger, available in Winterberry Red and Ebony Black.

For Men, Oboz offers 8-inch and 10-inch-high Bridger boots as well as the Big Sky Mid and Low for more casual adventures.

photoCourtesy of Oboz Footwear

3. Stock up your Kit

Winter calls for a few extra items in your adventure kit. Fill your first aid kit with plasters, gauze, splints, tweezers, antiseptic solution/wipes, and double-check you have a knife, headlamp, portable charger (batteries go flat faster in the cold), waterproof matches, emergency blanket and emergency shelter.

If you’re travelling into the backcountry or avalanche-prone areas, bring a transceiver, probe, shovel and airbag. It’s a wise idea to bring a GPS, trail map, compass and plant/wildlife guide. Also, pack a few extra snacks, as your body will burn more calories than normal to stay warm.

photoCourtesy of Oboz Footwear

4. Start early

Canada’s colder months offer significantly less sunshine, so start early and give yourself plenty of time to complete your hike before dusk. In the morning, the snow is typically harder, as it hasn’t been thawed by afternoon sunshine. This will help you avoid postholing (uncomfortably and ungracefully plunging through the snow to create an undesired hole).

It’s a good idea to start with shorter hikes and to time yourself to help plan future adventures. On sunny days, don’t forget SPF/UPF—sunshine can reflect off the snow, damaging your eyes and burning your exposed skin and lips.

photoCourtesy of Oboz Footwear

5. Bring something to warm up

Whether it’s air-activated hand warmers, a hot water bottle or a thermos of strong tea, bring something toasty as a treat for the end of your hike. This is especially important if you plan on spending a lot of time at a viewpoint; you’re likely to catch a chill once you’ve stopped moving.

Remember to wrap your water bottle in an insulated sleeve so it doesn’t freeze and take sips consistently. Avoid alcohol as it’s dehydrating and can lower your body temperature. Instead, indulge in a hot toddy or rum and eggnog once you return home safely.


This article was sponsored by our friends at Oboz Footwear