Space economy is always on the minds of hikers when packing gear. While outfitter catalogs are full of bells and whistles, it’s the essentials that will get you through safely and comfortably when you’re hiking in the chill. Take a look at five key gear items to pack along in chilly weather.
1. Waterproof Hiking Boots
Waterproof footwear is important because the rest of your walk gets uncomfortable once your feet get soaked by rain, puddles or mud. A pair of high-quality waterproof hiking boots will also provide a good grip for preventing slips. The last thing you want is to lose your footing on a slick hill when there’s nobody in sight for miles.
2. A Windproof and Waterproof Jacket
A lot of people think they’re covered just because they’ve invested in a waterproof jacket. The reality is that you’re really only halfway there if your jacket is waterproof. When on trails or hilly terrain, that wind can cut right through most fabrics pretty easily. If you’re looking for where to start with hiking-appropriate jackets that can stand up to the UK drizzle and wind, OutdoorCrunch’s huge guide to Arc’teryx jackets spells it out based on terrain and temperatures.
3. Cold-Proof Socks
While waterproof boots are essential, what you wear under them is also important. The big thing to know is that the cotton socks you wear for everyday use or light walks won’t fit the bill if you’re taking a longer, more intense hike. That’s because cotton absorbs moisture quickly while drying very slowly. For dryness, synthetic socks are best. Synthetic hiking socks made of materials like nylon, elastane and wool-synthetic blends offer wicking and quick-dry properties while providing a lot of warmth under boots.
4. An Emergency Shelter
An emergency shelter is one of the best uses of space in your hiking backpack if you’ll be venturing to an area where there’s a risk of becoming stranded due to extreme temperatures or injury. There are plenty of bivouac shelter (bivy sack) options out there that are both compact and affordable enough to justify packing them along. If you don’t want to make the investment, a trash bag or lightweight tarp can also work.
5. A Good Hiking Backpack
A trusted companion to any trail seeker, a backpack will serve as a house for your gear and food. There are some guidelines to follow to ensure that you can wear your pack comfortably for long periods without strain. First, ensure that a fully loaded pack won’t weigh more than 20 percent of your own body weight. If possible, try to find a pack that configures to allow your hips to support 80 percent of its weight.