Winter Ready Gear
To be a sage hiker, you need some basic gear: a raincoat, maybe some rain pants or a rain wrap. But what about other gear that will keep you warm and dry in the winter? We've been testing some new gear that can make your winter hikes a lot mroe fun. Here are some of our favorites.
To be a sage hiker, you need some basic gear: a raincoat, maybe some rain pants or a rain wrap. But what about other gear that will keep you warm and dry in the winter? We've been testing some new gear that can make your winter hikes a lot more fun. Here are some of our favorites.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH GHOST RAIN HAT
Why don’t more people hike in rain hats? We’re not sure after trying out OR’s Ghost Rain Hat. It’s well designed with clever features. The Gore-Tex fabric and wide brim keep the water off your face and neck. The top of the hat can also slip off and fold into its own little pocket, giving you more breathable headwear on days it’s not raining. The hat is adjustable, allowing for a more precise fit, as well as sizing up when you’re wearing a warm hat underneath and sizing down when you’re not. This is a great option for hikers who feel claustrophobic in hoods. While it’s not as warm as a hood on an extremely cold day, it doesn’t block your peripheral vision or muffle your hearing the way a hood does. $79; outdoorresearch.com
Dry sacks are extremely useful all year long but especially in the winter, and this year we tried out a number of them. The Granite Gear Slacker Packer ($42.95/$49.95, granitegear.com) is a clever, versatile dry sack and comes in two varieties: one with compression and one without. This sack has the extra advantage of doubling as a backpack. Its simple straps, which include an adjustable chest strap, are lightweight. The backpack is surprisingly comfortable for how simple it is. We used it on an several wet winter hikes and it carried all of our layers admirably. It could also be used as a food-hang bag for backpacking trips.
Sea to Summit’s eVac Dry Sack ($17.95-$44.95, backcountry.com) and eVent Compression Dry Sack ($29.95-$49.95, backcountry.com). Both served us well on extremely wet days and come in a variety of sizes. The eVac Dry Sack has a sturdy construction, and we appreciated the small-size version for storing essentials like a first-aid kit and an emergency beacon. The Compression Dry Sack worked great for down items that are vital to keep dry but are bulky. Both of these bags use eVent fabric, which allows air to be pressed out of the bag, making them easy to compress down while still maintaining their waterproof qualities.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH REVEL SHELL MITTS
For some hikers, cold, wet hands can ruin the whole day. These waterproof mittens can keep you warm and dry whether hiking, snowshoeing or skiing. They’re generously sized, so there’s room for a second layer underneath. They’re also designed to be easy to pull on and off—there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to put on mittens over your raincoat when you’re already cold. These mittens have straps that are easy to tighten, even with both mittens already on. $65; outdoorresearch.com
RAIDLIGHT ULTRALIGHT JACKET
RaidLight’s Ultralight Jacket makes running (and hiking) during the cold and damp Pacific Northwest winter a fun activity rather than a grueling chore. This jacket is built for moving light and fast. Weighing in at just under 6 ounces, this minimal jacket still has the bells and whistles to really protect you when the weather turns sour. An adjustable hood, thumb loops and a handy “watch window” all prove useful to keep the weather out during a run or hike.
Features aside, the jacket material is where this garment really shines. During those truly cold, windy and rainy outings, this jacket blocked the elements as well any non-Gore-Tex jacket, all while remaining ultra-breathable. The only time we had a “leak” was during a torrential thunderstorm when the rain was pouring down in sheets and any jacket (even a three-layer GoreTex jacket) would have leaked through. Even during that run, the jacket only let in a bit of water along the front zipper; other areas remained relatively dry. We did find this jacket was too warm for runs or strenuous hikes on days above 40 degrees, but when the mercury drops near or below freezing and the rain, snow and wind pick up, the RaidLight Ultralight Jacket goes on and stays on. $150; us.raidlight.com