Heading out to enjoy Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and wondering what to wear for a winter hike in Colorado? You’re in for a treat - there’s nothing quite like exploring the snow-capped peaks of Colorado in the winter! But a little preparation is needed to ensure you’ll enjoy your day hike in the winter weather. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered from head to toe with everything you need to know about dressing for a winter day hike in Colorado!
Winter Hiking Gear List
There’s a reason people dream of winter hiking in Colorado. The peace of untouched snow, fresh mountain air, and of course the towering mountains that made the state famous. Before you head out for a winter day hike in Colorado, double-check yourwinter hiking gear list to make sure you’re prepared.
Let’s start from the bottom!Winter hiking in Colorado means snowy and icy trails. When you’re planning what to wear for your winter hike in Colorado, start out with picking the right shoes. Preferably, you’ll want waterproof shoes, as you’ll be getting at least a little wet. At the least, make sure you’ve got shoes with good traction, and stay away from “breathable” shoes with mesh or little lining. When you’re picking out socks, make sure you’ve got a pair that’s going to keep your toes warm. Longer socks are preferable, as they’ll keep your ankles free from any snow that creeps its way inside your pants (believe us, it’s the worst).
Searching for a warm pair of socks?Try our favorite merino wool Colorado Flag socks.
Now that your feet are sure to be toasty warm all day on your winter hike, let’s talk aboutwhat to wear on your legs for your winter hike. We’ll let you in on a little secret- layering is the key to success. If the weather is going to be below freezing (which is pretty common for a winter hike in Colorado), you’re going to want more than one layer of pants. Choose a base layer that fits tight to your body to lock in warmth. Think leggings or long johns. On top of that, look for a pair of pants that are waterproof or water-resistant. If the weather is going to be particularly cold or wet, look for a pair of insulated pants, such as snow pants, that will give you an extra layer of warmth.
Need a base layer? Check out our everyday leggings made from recycled water bottles.
Just like your bottom half, the best way to stay warm on yourwinter hike is to pick the right layers. You’ll want to start with a fitted, long-sleeve top as your base layer. Next, choose a mid-layer that adds a layer of warmth without being too bulky. A fleece or lightweight sweatshirt is the perfect mid-layer. To top it off, you’ll want at least one more layer. If it’s not going to be snowing, a puffy jacket is a great final layer. If it’s going to be wet, choose something with a waterproof finish. A ski or snowboarding jacket is a good thing to store in your backpack, even if you don’t think you’ll need it on yourwinter hike in Colorado.
Face and Head
Don’t forget the most important part of your body when you’re planningwhat to wear for your winter hike! You lose most of your heat through your head, so take care of it on your winter hike. Be sure to wear a warm beanie hat to protect your head and ears from the elements. And don’t underestimate the winter wind in Colorado! Look for a facemask with a UPF rating to protect your face from wind and sunburn. It’s a common myth that you can’t get sunburned in the winter- reflections from bright white snow can actually lead to some of the worst sunburns! Packing these often overlooked essentials will keep your skin safe (and you feeling warm) all hike long.
Enjoying a sunny winter hike? Pack a UPF 50 facemask!
Last but certainly not least! Talking aboutwhat to wear for a winter hike in Colorado wouldn’t be complete without the all-important item- gloves! Just like your upper and lower body, layering your gloves ups your warmth level to keep your fingers toasty. Start with a thin liner glove. Then layer with a thicker, waterproof glove or mitten (we’re glove people over here, but to each their own). Stay away from cotton or wool gloves. They might work well for short strolls, but when you’re taking a longer winter hike, they’ll soak up water and get heavy and cold over time. Want to stay dry to the bone? Look for gloves or mittens with GoreTex treatment!
Other Gear to Pack for a Winter Hike in Colorado
Knowingwhat to wear for a winter hike in Colorado is essential. And there’s a few other pieces of gear you might want to have with you. These depend on the conditions and how long of a winter hike in Colorado you’ll be heading out on!
Microspikes or snowshoes
If there’s a lot of fresh snow that hasn’t been packed down yet, you might want to bring snowshoes with you. They’ll help you stay afloat on top of deep snow, rather than sinking in. Has it been a few days or weeks since the last snow? Then you might want to bring microspikes. These handy additions will provide you with some extra traction thanks to metal spikes that wrap around the bottom of your shoes. They’re particularly useful if you’re dealing with an icy trail and can prevent a lot of slipping around! While these extra pieces of gear won’t be necessary on everywinter hike in Colorado, you’ll want to double-check trail conditions to see if you need them or not!
If you’re heading out on an especially sunny or warmer winter day, bring a baseball hat to make sure your face is completely protected from the sun. Like we said, winter weather can lead to some of the worst sunburns, especially on those bluebird days (which we get a lot of here in Colorado).
Food and extra water
No matter how long you’re hitting the trail for your winter hike, you should bring a few snacks and a bottle of water. If your winter hike is more than a few miles, stay on the safe side and pack more food and water than you think you’ll need. And remember to drink up and stay hydrated! While you might not be as thirsty during a colder winter hike in Colorado, your body is still working hard. And, you need more water to acclimate to the higher altitudes that most Colorado trails start at.
Learning what to wear for a winter hike in Colorado might seem complicated, but the extra effort will pay off when you enjoy a full day in the beautiful Colorado landscape!