In a lot of cases, the gear you use in the summer will be the same gear that you use in the winter. Your stove, for instance, or your water filter wont change much, though you might want to bring along a little extra food to help keep yourself warm.
There are a few other items, however, that you will want to swap out for warmer, winter versions of the same.
Winter Hiking Gear ListThis list is by no means complete, but it should give you a good idea of what the essential items should be on any winter hiking gear list.
- Winter Tent - A winter tent isn't crucial, and depending on what the conditions are going to be like where you're going a summer tent might do the job fine. But if you're expecting wind and lots of moisture, or worse, have no idea what to expect, then it might be a good idea to bring along a beefier winter tent, if for nothing else than a little a peace of mind.
- Winter Sleeping Bag - A winter sleeping bag is going to be a lynch pin item in any winter hiking gear list. You can try and supplement your summer sleeping bag with a sleeping bag liner, but your best bet really is a whole different winter sleeping bag. When it comes to your sleep and your comfort in bed at night, you do not want to take any chances.
- Winter Sleeping Pad - Another item that will help keep you warm at night is a winter sleeping pad. Not all sleeping pads are created equal, and a winter sleeping pad will have certain features, like down insulation, to keep your body from losing heat in to the ground at night.
- Sunscreen - Most people hope for good weather when going winter hiking, but fail to include anything to protect that from that good weather on their winter hiking gear list. Sunscreen will help protect exposed skin, which can reflect off snow and burn you quickly. Also consider bringing along sunglasses so that you don't put yourself at risk for snow blindness.
- Winter Hiking Boots - A good hiking boot is a must in winter conditions. Unless you're in a part of the world that gets some good winter weather, backpacking shoes should not make an appearance on your winter hiking gear list. They may weigh more, but it will be worth it to keep your feet dry and comfy. Also be sure to bring along a good pair of socks and consider hiking snowshoes if you plan to be spending a lot of time in the snow.
- Outer Layer - A good waterproof outer layer is a very important piece of gear when going hiking. Your outer layer should also be something that breaths, since you will be exerting yourself by hiking. Look for fabrics like Gore-Tex and eVent, which will both protect you from snow and rain and also let moisture escape.
- Insulating Layer - For those really cold conditions you should also consider an insulating layer to help improve whatever other clothes you have on. Mont Bell, a Japanese manufacturer, makes a few really great down insulating layers, including a men's down inner jacket (women's version) and a matching pair of down inner pants (women's version). Down isn't very good when weight, but makes up for that by being extremely light.