8 Essential Packing Tips for Hiking in Cold Weather & Snow

8 Essential Packing Tips for Hiking in Cold Weather & Snow

Whether you’re going out for one hour or five hours, packing properly for hiking in the snow or cold is essential. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re not forgetting anything next time you head out the door.

  • A backpack - make sure it’s large enough to carry extra layers, snacks and other essentials. It’s good to also have a backpack with an attachable waterproof cover for days when the forecast calls for rain or snow. Fun tip: The cover is also helpful on a sunny day. Set your pack down on the cover to prevent snow on the ground from getting your things wet.
  • A warm, packable jacket - Even if it feels like it’s going to be a warm day, temperatures can drop quickly if you are hiking in the shade or a cloud blocks the sun. Once the sun dips behind a nearby mountain, you’ll be thankful for the extra warmth.
  • Extra base layer or mid layer - It’s always smart to throw in an extra layer. If you’re hiking up a mountain or moving at a fast pace, you can break a sweat, even in cold temperatures. An extra layer can be a good thing to change into for the trip back down the mountain, if you’re hanging out at the summit, or if you just need a bit of extra warmth. An extra layer of dry clothing can really make or break your day out hiking.
  • Gloves/mittens, a beanie, and extra socks - Similar to the clothing mentioned above, adding layers when you start to feel cold will keep you safe and comfortable while hiking in the snow or cold temperatures. You should cover your head and hands just like you would any other part of your body. Extra socks are perfect if your feet get wet and you still have hiking left to do. 
  • Goggles or sunglasses - Depending on what the forecast calls for, it’s important to protect your eyes from either reflective snow or falling snowflakes. Not having protective eyewear can lead to longer term issues - better to be safe than sorry! 
  • Sunscreen - Snow is highly reflective, even on a cloudy day. Make sure you start your hike with sunscreen and have extra to reapply if you are out for a couple of hours.
  • Snacks - Trail snacks are always a good idea, especially on longer hikes. Consider packing food that won’t be hard to eat if it gets a little frozen. We love chocolate and trail mix.
  • Water - This should go without saying, but it’s extremely important to pack water when heading out in the snow. You can’t rely on finding water on the trail that isn’t frozen, so it’s important to pack what you think you’ll need and then a little more.

Other gear you want to consider packing, depending on where and when you are going would be microspikes, a headlamp, a map or compass, and a small first aid kit. It’s always good to be over prepared in snow or cold weather conditions.

Be sure to tag us on your next snow hiking or cold weather adventure and follow us on Instagram @DecathlonUSA. We love hearing what you like to pack, too!


Please proceed with caution when going out in the outdoors. Only you know your limits and experience level and all outdoor activities should be carried out at your own risk.


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