Top tips for winter walking kit
When winter comes it’s time to reassess your walking clothing and equipment. To enjoy the great outdoors, and stay safe, clothing and footwear needs to be fit for purpose and that includes being windproof, waterproof, breathable, durable, grippy and warm.
Waterproof jacketsThere are many types of waterproof fabric, including Gore-Tex and own-brand creations, such as eVent, Texapore, Tres-Tex and more. Gore-Tex also has a range of fabrics, including Active, Pro Shell and Pro. For tougher conditions, such as those faced by many winter walkers, the Gore-Tex Pro is a pricier choice but one that is more likely to cope with the elements and keep the wind and rain out. Look for jackets made from Gore-Tex Pro, such as Berghaus Antelao 3 layer jacket, or heavier weight waterproof fabrics from other manufactures.
Windproof or insulated mid-layerIt’s useful to have a mid-layer that can be worn as an outer layer on drier days. Look for products that are windproof. When the rain comes on you can simply add a waterproof jacket. Insulated jackets are a great product for really cold days or for when you stop during your walk for a bite to eat. They could prove vital if you are caught in an emergency in the mountains, as they will keep your core body temperature high. As a general rule, down insulation works well when conditions are dry, while synthetic insulation is better in damp conditions. A new down called Hydrodown, made by Berghaus, also works a treat when it’s wet. The goose down is treated with a water repellent. Other insulated jackets to look for are ones that have a waterproof outer coating. The weight of a jacket will depend on how much warmth you need. There are numerous lightweight insulated jackets on the market with 750 to 850 fill but it might also be a good idea to carry a heavier weight down jacket in your rucksack for emergency situations.
BaselayersLayer up thin layers for maximum warmth. Long-sleeved tops made of merino wool are a good choice. Also choose synthetic tops that boast of being breathable. The difference between merino and synthetics is that wool tends to be naturally warmer and it will not whiff so much if it gets sweaty.
Walking trousers, tights and over-trousersLegs get cold too so choose winter warm trousers or leggings. If it’s wet make sure you have waterproof over-trousers to pop on. Buy over-trousers with zips down the outside so that you can easily put them on over boots while on the hills.
AccessorisesWinter calls for winter warm (winter/heavyweight) socks, gloves, buffs and hats. In snowy conditions you will also need ski goggles, crampons, ice axes and spare hats and gloves. Crampons and ice axes are only useful if you know how to sue them so sign up to a winter skills course if in doubt. Walking poles can also be a useful extra on tricky winter trails.
Walking bootsWear three or four-season boots. You need boots that are waterproof, stiff and grippy underfoot for winter conditions, including muddy and snowy terrain. Three season boots, such as Asolo Revert GV Mens Hiking Boots, will be adequate for less extreme winter walking. Most three season boots can take crampons but check which kind to buy to fit on to your boots. Four season boots are stiffer, heavier, more robust and ideal for more extreme winter walking and climbing. They can be fitted with a more extreme kind of crampon.
RucksacksWith more kit to carry, you'll need a larger rucksack than your usual summer pack. Buy one that comes with a waterproof cover or add a waterproof cover to one you already own. Alternatively, pack all your spare kit in dry bags. The last thing you want is wet kit. Happy winter walking!
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