Hiking through the winter: 8 tips for the cold season

A hiker stands in front of a snowy forest trail

Nature all around is covered in a protective blanket of snow and ice, and in the light of the sun it turns into a glorious glittering winter wonderland. A sight you must not miss – freezing cold or not! Instead of skiing on busy slopes, you can enjoy the cold season on hikes in the deep snow-covered forests or to snow-covered mountain peaks and frozen lakes.

We reveal 8 useful tips that you should keep in mind when hiking in winter. Have fun!

1. Using the onion as a model: layering clothes made easy

You have probably heard about the onion principle before. You can layer several pieces of clothing on top of each other to avoid both freezing and sweating. The big advantage? You can adapt to the weather on the way and simply take off or put on one layer at a time. put on again.

  • Layer number 1 is your underwear, known as your "base layer.". The functional underwear lies directly on the skin, wicks moisture from the inside to the outside and thus protects you from cooling down. Important: it must be as close to the body as possible.
  • The second layer, the mid layer, is designed to shield your body from the icy temperatures outside. It can certainly consist of several layers, such as two fleece sweaters. In extreme cold, synthetic fiber, down or softshell jackets offer optimal insulation protection.
  • The third and outermost layer of the onion look, the "shell layer" forms your protection against wind and weather, rain and snow. It is therefore especially important that moisture does not penetrate anywhere and the outer layer is still breathable. Depending on the weather, hard-shell or close-fitting softshell jackets are suitable.

2. The right footwear

"On top" perfectly dressed according to the layer principle, it is now necessary to properly arm the feet for the hiking venture in the snow:

  • To avoid wet and cold feet, make sure your hiking boot is waterproof and well insulated.
  • A high shaft is beneficial so snow doesn't land in your shoe from the top.
  • The sole of the shoe should give you enough grip on snow and ice.

In addition, you can also "upgrade" your shoe with warm insoles and/or thick sports socks – depending on how quickly you get cold feet. Here's our advice: just try it out to find the right "warmth level" – because we want to avoid sweaty feet as much as possible.

Tips for the sustainability of winter shoes

Every second year a new pair of (winter) hiking boots – this is not only expensive, but also not good for the environment. If you invest in a great winter walking shoe, you should also get something out of it for as long as possible! So make sure you take proper care of them – here are the tips in a nutshell:

  • Remove protection and mud directly after the tour and let them dry well afterwards.
  • Think of regular impregnation.
  • Use appropriate care products – depending on the material of your shoes.
  • Find a suitable storage place: dry, airy, protected from dust.
  • Sole treaded through? Repair instead of throwing away – have your faithful companions resoled!

4. Adjust your tour planning

Don't underestimate the distance and – if you want to go high up – the altitude difference. It will take you more time (and effort) to cover the same distance in winter than in summer.

At the same time it gets dark earlier – it dawns in the wintry Alps partly already around 16:00 o'clock. So set off early or don't take on too much. For emergencies: Pack a headlamp in your backpack – you never know.

5. Warm yourself from the inside

If you've been out and about in the icy winter air for a while, you'll be especially happy about a treasure in your backpack: a thermos flask with a tasty, warming hot drink. A sip of hot tea (or coffee) will warm you from the inside and keep you hydrated at the same time.

6. This is what you need in your backpack in winter

Over the course of this post, we've already collected quite a few things that should go into your backpack for your winter hike:

  • Spare or. Additional clothing
  • Sunscreen for face, lips and eyes
  • Headlamp, in case it gets dark already
  • Powerbank, just in case you use your smartphone for orientation
  • Thermos bottle with warming drink
  • Energy-rich provisions, such as nuts, muesli bars, dates or apples

More practical hiking gadgets

Our 10 practical hiking gadgets can come in handy summer or winter. A power bank in particular is worth its weight in gold if your cell phone battery discharges more quickly in cold temperatures. Be sure to read in!

8. Snowshoes: your upgrade for winter hiking

Have you ever tried snowshoeing?? If not, you should definitely do so! It is uncomplicated and if you know how to hike, you can also go on snowshoes.

You can simply strap the large "Big Foot" shoes around your winter shoes, add a pair of gaiters and poles – and you're ready to go. The snowshoes allow you to move through the snowy winter landscape even in deep snow and thus away from prepared winter hiking trails. There are a lot of great highlights and experiences waiting for you!

Snowshoes and poles

Video about snowshoeing

Our ASI mountain guide and outdoor professional Gerhard tells you what excites him about snowshoeing:


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