When it comes to choosing gear for a winter hike, who better to ask than veteran Ridj-iteer Michael Meyer? He’s been with us for a while, and knows a lot about the subject. These are Michael’s top 5 things he wouldn’t head out into the snowy peaks without:
1) Hard shell coat and pants.
I have the Columbia hard shell jacket with armpit zippers. It is part of their Interchange line so I can pair it with fleece or micro-down inner coats. Armpit zippers allow your perspiration to escape so it does not form a wet freezing layer on your skin, while also keeping your top dry in sleet or freezing rain conditions.
For pants, I prefer the Eider Makla Enium hard shells, which offer great comfort in freezing rain or sleet. I like that they have zippers that go all the way up so I do not need to sit or take off my boots to change into or out of them while on the trail. They also have suspenders that relieve pressure on the stomach, and have gators built in to keep your feet dry.
2) Winter smartphone gloves
These two-in-one gloves can be light if you only use the liner or warm gloves when you add the outer layer. You can take your summit photos even while wearing your thick, warm mitts. They also have a zipper for disposable heating packs and extra warmth. Personally I have the Burtons, but there are similar competitor brand models available.
The trail can get slippery with ice. MICROspikes do not look like much, but they give you the grip you need on trail ice. Fit them on at home before trying them on the trail if you order online.
4) Insulated water bottle
Yes, they do make insulated bladder tubes, but they eventually do freeze. I use HydroFlask insulated water bottles for extremely cold conditions. By pouring boiling hot water in the bottle before a hike, I then have tea-temperature water during. I usually pack two 40oz bottles, but also have 28oz for shorter hikes. Caveat emptor aluminum bottles dent easily so do not drop them. I use carabiners to connect lids to my backpack straps.
5) Battery pack
Smartphone batteries drain faster in the cold. Get a battery pack so you can keep taking those photos or make an emergency call if necessary. I have seen smartphone batteries go from 80 to zero before hikers cross the tree line to the summit. I use the Anker PowerCore 20100 and they are always making new models that charge fasters or have longer battery life. Leave the single charging ones at home and get one that can charge your phone a few times.