Winter Hiking Essentials | Part II Winter Hiking Series

January 31, 2024

winter hiking essentials


Winter Hiking Essentials

If you’re staying close to home and only plan on hiking for a few hours, my Winter Gear Guide is a good place to start. If you’re venturing out in a new area or plan on hiking most of the day, play it safe and add these items to your pack before you head out.

Whether you like winter or not, once you get out there and experience the solitude and beauty, you’ll start looking forward to it. You’ll feel comfortable outside and enjoying winter trails using my winter hiking gear guide this essentials list.

What’s in your pack? 

Energy & Hydration

life straw water filtration

Water Filtration

A water filtration bottle or straw is a MUST on a winter hike. You’ll probably drink just as much water on a cold-weather hike as a summer hike, so be prepared. I use Life Straw products, they’re super lightweight and the prices are great. 

I also have a GRAYL water filtration bottle. The filters are high-quality and last for a long time.

Protein Snacks

healthy hiking snacks

Winter hiking requires energy and a clear mind to be able to make decisions in an emergency. Don’t skip out on snacks and choose snacks that give you energy (packed with protein, not sugar). In addition to protein bars, you can pack nuts, jerky, and trail mix. Nuts can cause digestion problems and cramping, so if you don’t eat nuts regularly, opt for peeled pistachios or cashews and eat them in small amounts. 

Most of these items are available on Amazon. Click here to view my Amazon store.

Weather Protection & Safety

Dry Bag

Dry bags protect your things from getting wet, like food, tech items, extra gloves, and socks. Most dry bags are designed to keep things dry in the wettest conditions, including submersion. They have a roll-top closure that prevents water from entering, and the fabric and seams of the bags are coated with a waterproof material.

Emergency Blanket

An emergency blanket is a small, lightweight item that can help keep you warm if you can’t make a fire and temperatures drop. It fits easily in your backpack and can raise your body temperature in challenging situations.

first aid hiking kit

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is another essential item to always have with you. It has bandaids, wipes, and gauze to help treat injuries. 

Headlight or Flashlight

Even if you don’t plan on hiking at dusk or night, it’s easy to misjudge the timing of a hike or get lost and end up doubling your time on the trail. A headlamp or flashlight can also help you signal for help. Remember to bring extra batteries!

Tech Items

Choosing tech items is a challenge because there are SO MANY choices. But tech gets heavy to carry on a hike, so I’ve created a minimalist list to keep it light and easy.

Garmin Satellite Communicator

Cellular networks get spotty when you’re out on the trails. It’s awesome if you’re trying to unplug for a few hours, but it’s scary if you need service and don’t have it. Garmin has a variety of satellite messenger devices that range from $300.00 – $400.00, and they have a built-in electronic compass.

Garmin has special offers and deals throughout the year. Sign up for my newsletter and make sure you don’t miss out:

Portable Charger

Look for a portable charger that’s waterproof, dirtproof, and shockproof. It must be built for  extreme outdoor conditions; batteries are fickle in the winter, and so are portable chargers. 

I use the MyCharge Adventure brand, it comes with a carabiner that attaches to my pack.


Solar Charger & Portable HotSpot

For a solar charger, I like the Nomad 10 from GoalZero; they have a killer rewards program. For a mobile hotspot, check out SIMO’s Solis Lite 4G LTE.

Combined with my winter gear checklist, you are SET to hit a new winter adventure trail! Now you just need a few ideas on where to go next, right? Stay tuned…

I’ll be sharing a Winter Destinations list very soon! Get an alert when it publishes:

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. My posts, newsletters, social media shares, linktr.ee, news releases and website/blog may contain affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. In many cases, I can offer my readers and followers a discount with a coupon code at checkout. Read full privacy policy here.”

Note: This post is meant to serve winter day hikers. If you plan on winter camping or an overnight hike, check out the REI Winter Camping Guide.




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Written by Megan Adolph

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