Now that snow is finally dumping in Colorado, it’s important to know what items should be brought along for a winter hike. While many items are needed year-round, some can be especially helpful during the colder months of the year.
Here’s a list of winter hiking gear essentials, along with some additional winter hiking tips:
Shoe traction: Bringing along microspikes or hiking boot crampons is a great move when it comes to navigating slick terrain. While you might not need the extra traction every time, this is one of those gear items that’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
Ski goggles: If ski goggles are good enough for alpine skiing, they’re probably good enough for hiking. Goggles can be a great option for eyewear on a snowy day, providing shade and protection from the intense sun and harsh winds.
Mountaineering axe: From being a great self-arrest tool on slick terrain to helping with balance in deep snow, a mountaineering axe can be a great tool for the winter pack. While an axe won’t be needed on most beginner or intermediate hikes, it is a must-have for those traveling steeper terrain. Read more about why you need one and how to use it here.
Hiking poles: In flatter terrain where an axe might be overkill, hiking poles or ski poles can be a great balance aid. Many opt for hiking poles that are collapsible so that they can be stowed away when not in use.
Extra socks: If your socks get wet, it’s nice to have a replacement pair. Extra socks can also be used to double-up on layering if your toes get cold.
Extra gloves: Just like socks, gloves can also get wet. Having a replacement pair can be crucial when snow melts inside of the glove or the glove gets too sweaty. An extra pair of gloves is also helpful should a glove get lost – perhaps blown away by the wind.
Hand warmers: Whether you’re using hand warmers to keep your extremities toasty or to keep your cell phone battery warm (more on that below), having a few hand warmers in the backpack is never a bad idea.