Layering Systems for Winter Adventures

Last weekend I was able to do some mountaineering in negative 5 degree temperatures (Details about that hike). Our group of 4 climbed a small mountain peak (11,400+ feet) with a windchill of -10 degrees. All in all, we spent 5 hours outside hiking in negative temperatures. To many people this sounds crazy, but we were actually quite warm thanks to proper layering and choosing fabrics that perform well in these conditions. In the below video, I describe the layers I chose for a comfortable adventure under harsh conditions.

Here are some helpful tips for staying warm on your winter adventures.

* Choose waterproof and windproof fabrics for your outer layer or shell.

* Choose waterproof insulated gloves or mittens to keep your fingers warm.

* Your shell should not only be waterproof but also very breathable for when you begin creating a lot of heat during your exercise.

* Choose layers that are lightweight and packable in case you need to begin removing layers.

* A midlayer could vary from a down or synthetic jacket to a fleece. Carefully consider how much warmth you will need from your mid layer.

* A base layer has to keep you feeling warm and dry. A merino wool or synthetic fabric will wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly.

* Waterproof boots are a must for walking in the snow. Don't wear non-waterproof shoes or boots if you'll be in snow for extended periods of time.

* Stay hydrated. Proper hydration will keep you feeling warm.

* Know where you are headed and the conditions you might experience.

* Consider the level of aerobic activity and the amount of body heat you will create. It is also important to not wear too many clothes because it can cause you to overheat.


You shouldn't have to stop enjoying the outdoors just because the temperatures are cooler. With proper layering, you can enjoy long hikes, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more winter activities. It is important to plan ahead and be prepared for adverse weather conditions but with proper layering and having the right types of layers you can stay warm during long cold days in the backcountry.

For more information on layering check out the Sierra Trading Post Buying Guide or any of our other blog posts on the subject.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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