I’ve been want to post more non-journalism writing, pictures and meanderings — namely stuff about hiking, gear I like, adventures we go on — so this is some of that.
I am pretty big on comfort when I’m hiking. And a lot of being comfortable is having gear that works for you and investing in quality stuff that will work across seasons and last for a long time.
I never really hiked in the snow before moving out here to Seattle, but now we go out most weekends for at least a short snowshoe hike in the winter. So I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error with gear and I’ve read a lot about what other people use.
I figured it might be helpful to other ladies out there who are getting into snow hiking or snowshoeing and want to know what gear or brands could work for them and would be worth the investment. None of these products or companies have paid me or given me products to review free of charge.
So here it is: Lauren’s winter hiking essentials for women…
I’m starting with the worst clothing item for hiking women: PANTS. Hiking pants are the worst. Especially if you have hips, a butt, curves of any kind. It’s like they are always cut for dudes but with the zipper just on the other side. But these pants from Prana — despite the price tag ($85 yikes) — are pretty much the best hiking pants for women.
I’ve worn them on every hike for almost two years and they show pretty much no wear at all. They also keep me warm and dry during snow hikes, even though they are not insulated and are not specifically for snow hiking. I wear them layered with Smartwool 250 weight thermal pants in the winter.
They are slim in the leg, but roomy enough for flexibility and layering thermals underneath. Unlike most hiking pants, they leave enough room for your hips without being too tight in the waist. I am a size 27 waist + 30 inch (or less) inseam and wear a size 6 regular in these.
Another option for snow hikes: Waterproof rain pants like the Torrentshell Pants from Patagonia. I have these in a size medium and they fit overall, but are a little tighter in the butt. I usually prefer my Pranas over these for snow hikes.
Base layers: Smartwool all the way
I use three wool, base-layer style items for snow hikes:
- Women’s NTS Mid 250 Bottom
- Women’s NTS Micro 150 Tee (I wear this on pretty much all hikes, winter, summer, anytime.)
- Women’s NTS Mid 250 Crew (This is new for me. I usually just wear a flannel shirt)
For me, wool is the best option by far. It’s comfortable, warm, breathable, it keeps you warm even you’re damp, it dries quickly, it doesn’t retain smells like synthetic fabrics and you can wash and dry Smartwool stuff in the machine. I wouldn’t go on a winter hike without at least the bottoms. The tops are optional if you have other warm flannels or sweaters you like to hike in.