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5 Best Fabrics to Use When Hiking in the Snow

5 Best Fabrics to Use When Hiking in the Snow

Winter is the perfect time for hiking if you love the stark beauty of the season, but you do need to spend a little more time preparing for your hike to stay comfortably warm when snow is on the ground. The type of clothing you choose is particularly important. The right combination of fabrics not only keeps you toasty and snug during your hike, but also improves safety by preventing common cold weather health concerns, such as frostbite. These five fabrics are among the best to choose for your next winter hike.

Wool and Wool Blends

Wool is a natural, breathable fabric that keeps you warm, even when the material is damp or wet. Wear super-soft Merino wool as a base layer to control perspiration while staying warm. Wool also offers the benefit of being antimicrobial, a property that helps prevent odors. Wool socks, underwear, t-shirts and sweaters are all comfortable base layer options for very cold days.

Silk and Silk Blends

Silk is a natural alternative to wool that dries quickly and traps heat effectively to provide comfortable wear as a base layer. Silk is also antimicrobial to control odors on longer hikes. Silk is best for day hikes in mild or moderate temperatures, since the material can hold moisture in very cold weather. Silk-wool blends are a better option when hiking in colder temperatures. If you are allergic to wool and want a natural fabric option, however, silk offers many benefits. Experiment with this material to decide whether it is right for your climate and preferences. Look for silk hiking gear at your favorite sporting goods shops to try this winter-friendly fabric on your next hike.

Polyester Fleece

Polyester fleece is a popular synthetic fabric option that works well for mid-layer clothing. Polyester has the advantage of being lightweight and breathable, and poly fleece clothing is usually easy to find in your local department stores. Since poly fleece is available in several weights, choose your mid-later clothing carefully to suit the weather.

For instance, a midweight fleece jacket is best for mid-layer use, while a heavyweight jacket is recommended as an outer layer. Fleece-lined gloves, pants, and hats are easily layered to provide more warmth when hiking in very cold weather. Removable fleece liners are also an option if you prefer a more flexible way to adjust to temperature changes throughout the day.

Down and Poly Fill

Down and polyfill jackets are typically worn as the outer layer when hiking in the snow. Both poly and down are compressible, which saves space in your pack, and both are ultra-warm options for your outer layer. Down is often warmer and more compressible than poly, but polyfill jackets are more water-resistant than down. Choose a jacket with a water-resistant outer shell to stay dry if you opt for a down-filled jacket, or wear a rain poncho over your outer layer to stay dry.

Vests filled with polyester or down are suitable for mid-layer use if you need extra warmth, but find a jacket too hot. Look for a vest with easily accessible pockets to keep necessary gear close at hand, and opt for more compressible down fill if prioritizing space in your pack is a necessity.

Heavy Nylon

Trekking through snow doesn’t have to be uncomfortable with the right socks, boots, and pants. When choosing pants for winter hiking, look for waterproof and water-resistant options like heavyweight nylon. Nylon is a synthetic material that is light enough to layer in milder temperatures, and the material resists both wind and water for a cozy hike in snowy weather. Choose lined nylon pants for an extra layer of warmth, or opt for pants with a zipper at the ankle to easily add a waterproof layer mid-hike.

Winter weather poses unique challenges for hikers, but layering your clothing and choosing the right fabrics can make your hike safer and warmer. While classics like cotton may not be right for winter, fabrics like nylon, polyester, and wool are perfect for outdoor hikes in cold weather.