If crowds and scorching temperatures aren’t your thing, you may consider exploring hiking in the winter. Regardless of your preference and expertise, any person needs the essential items you need for winter hiking for safe travels.

Survival Tools

The number one tip for winter hiking on any trail is to know where you are going. Venturing off on an unknown trail might lead to some fun discoveries, but it also might lead you in the wrong direction. Hence, you’ll want to bring the proper survival and navigational tools to get you back on track. These items include:

  • Compass and GPS
  • Maps
  • First-aid kit
  • Firestarters
  • Knife
  • Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Dress in Layers

When hiking the Sierra in the winter, it can get frigid in a hurry. However, when the sun is shining bright, you may need to shed some clothing for maximum comfort. For this reason, using layers when you dress up for your hikes gives you the flexibility to adapt to the weather.

Considering you’ll want to be active in the morning when the sun is out, you’ll want to keep the layers to a minimum, limiting the sweat. That sweat will soak your clothes, creating a dangerous situation in which it freezes to the fabric. Thus, your first layer should be moisture-wicking, blocking any perspiration from seeping through to other clothing.

Insulated Beverage Bottle

Hydration is crucial when you are putting yourself through strenuous activities like hiking. But the cold winter weather can be problematic for your water consumption. If you plan on the water in plastic bottles, think again because that water may freeze, putting you in an unfortunate situation. An insulated water bottle circumvents the ordeal by protecting your beverage from the cold.

Food On-the-Go

Burning all those calories ascending a trail makes you thirsty and hungry. Thus, pack some food items that are accessible and edible in the cold. If you stop and prepare a meal over an open flame, your body temperature will drop, opening the door for complications. Items low in sugar and high in protein provide you the energy and strength you need.

Backpacking Goodies

Your backpack is like a hat to a magician: you can pull anything out of it. Your bag needs to have all your resources while being light and forgiving to your torso. You’ll want one that can fit the items above, plus sunscreen, emergency shelter, extra clothing, and a headlamp. Additionally, you’ll want to have a zipper repair kit because you never know when a zipper won’t fasten. Having open compartments may lead to something falling out, putting you in a dire situation.

Gathering the essential items you need for winter hiking is a fantastic starting point before getting the boots to the ground. Safety is always of the utmost importance, so preparing for the worst and adjusting later is the most beneficial when enjoying the Sierra.



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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