layering in cold weather

How To Layer For Winter Hikes

layering in cold weather

“You’re from Vermont though, aren’t you supposed to be good with the cold?”

The answer to this question should in theory be yes; but in reality, I am miserable with the cold. Anything below 65 and you’ll find me in a sweater.

But, when you live in colder climates, or want to hike/ski/not freeze on your walk to class or work, you learn how to properly layer.

So, let get into how I like to layer for cold hikes or long ski days!

Base Layer

The first step here is a base layer.

This is going to seem counter intuitive since no one sees this layer and it’s so thin, but this is where you really want to splurge.

Base layers can get really pricey, and REI makes a wool one that I’ve been eyeing for a couple of months now, but just like with a house, you need a strong foundation if anything else is going to stand there.

Here are some options for base layers:

Cheap: REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew Top – I have this one and it kept me pretty warm when I went white water kayaking!

Mid: REI Co-op Merino Midweight Base Layer Top 

Expensive: Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Crew Top


Mid Layer

The mid layer is used to create some space and insulation. You don’t have to get complicated here, typically you can wear a sweater or hoody you already have!

I’m a huge fan of my Patagonia Synchilla or a sweater that I grabbed from Uniqlo on impulse and have quickly fallen in love with!


Mid: L.L.Bean Hi-Pile Fleece Pullover

Expensive: Synchilla® Snap-T® Fleece Pullover


Outer Layer

Your outer layer acts as the casing the keeps the heat in! Sometimes if I can get away with it I’ll just wear my rain jacket to act as wind protection and that’s good enough.

If you’re dipping into the colder months of the year however, I would suggest one of these three shells:

Cheap: DAKINE – Pollox Jacket

Mid: Burton Jet Set Jacket

Expensive: Patagonia – Down Sweater Hoody or Burton GORE-TEX Kaylo Jacket


Last but not least, let’s talk and the little pieces here and there that can make or break you:

There you have it! That’s how I stay warm when hiking in the winter.


What’s your number 1 trick for staying warm in the winters?






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