Ready to take on the cold weather and make some hiking memories? Great! Hiking the UK in winter is one of our favourite activities, too. All you need is the right cold-weather hiking gear, preparation and a love of adventure. 

We’re ready to help with the cold weather gear and have created this hiking packing list to keep you safe and comfortable on a day’s winter hike whether you stay close to home or go off-piste. 

Of course, your exact hiking kit may vary depending on the type of hike you have planned and the terrain you’ll be going over, but feel free to use this packing list as a foundation for short, manageable trips. If you want advice for more extreme multi-day expeditions, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 


Clothing and Footwear

Cold weather essentials

Staying warm and dry is essential when you’re hiking in the cold weather to keep you free from hypothermia and frostbite. Packing the right clothing is, therefore, critical - as is wearing layers. By layering your clothes, you can add and remove items so you can stay comfortable without sweating or overheating. 

[ ] Long-sleeved base layers

[ ] Long-sleeved mid-layers

[ ] Waterproof and windproof trousers

[ ] Waterproof and windproof jacket   

[ ] Insulated jacket with hood

[ ] Lightweight microfleece 

[ ] Warm hat, beanie or balaclava 

[ ] Insulated gloves or mittens 

[ ] Warm underwear and socks

[ ] Insulated hiking boots or shoes (suited to terrain)


[ ] Gaiters (to keep rain, snow and mud out) 

[ ] Change of footwear (sandals or flip flops) 

Top tip: If you’re hiking in the forest, it may be warmer and less windy than hiking in exposed areas, so consider your terrain and destination before deciding on what to pack in your hiking kit. Also check the weather, and pack an extra set of clothes just in case you have an unplanned night out.


Hiking Gear 

Cold weather essentials

The further you hike the lighter you want your backpack to be; although in colder weather you will naturally carry more gear. For short hikes, choose a daypack that holds 11 - 20 litres. For longer multi-day treks you may want a backpack up to 40 litres. Whatever you decide, make sure your backpack is waterproof, sturdy and, most importantly, a comfortable fit. 

[ ] Backpack

[ ] Daypack (for a shorter hike, this might be enough)


[ ] Rain cover 

[ ] Extra straps (for attaching more gear such as crampons and extra clothes)

Top tip: Remember to try your backpack whilst wearing your cold-weather hiking clothes. You want it to sit comfortably and snugly on your hips, distributing weight around your torso rather than dragging your shoulders down. Knowing your torso length and hip size will help you choose the right bag. 


Food and Water

Cold weather essentials

You need to keep yourself fueled and hydrated during a cold-weather hike to keep your energy up and your body warm. In icy weather, food and water can freeze so you may have to experiment with the food you bring and choose water bottles or accessories that are specifically made for very low temperatures. 

[ ] Water bottles or hydration reservoir 

[ ] Water treatment 

[ ] Insulated flask for hot drinks

[ ] Lunch

[ ] Hiking snacks (chocolate, nuts, cheese tend to stay softer in cold weather)

[ ] Extra food in case of emergencies


[ ] Insulated sleeve for water bottles 

[ ] Portable cooking stove (for hot drinks and food if on a long hike)

[ ] Matches or a lighter

[ ] Camp food (for overnight hikes)

[ ] Camping utensils (if you plan to cook)

Top tip: When it’s cold you’re less likely to stop for a picnic, so pack your food and snacks within easy reach then you can eat on the go. Placing snacks close to your body and your water bottle inside your backpack will keep them insulated from the cold.


Navigation tools

Cold weather essentials

Knowing where you’re going at all times is critical especially when a navigation mishap can have more severe consequences in cold weather. Plan your route beforehand and tell family and friends where you’re going and make sure you pack these cold-weather hiking essentials.

[ ] Map and Trail Guide

[ ] Compass


[ ] Portable GPS 

[ ] Guidebook

[ ] Altimeter Watch

[ ] Personal locator beacon

Top tip: As well as leaving details of where you’re going at home, also place an itinerary out of site in your car. 


Health and Safety

Cold weather essentials

A good cold weather packing list always includes a first aid kit and some simple medications and basic safety essentials. If you’re planning a more extreme winter hike, then your two main health concerns will be frostbite/frostnip and hypothermia. Our experts can help you prepare for this kind of hike, so please get in touch

[ ] First Aid Kit

[ ] Basic medications

[ ] Whistle, emergency shelter, knife or multitool 

[ ] Headtorch or handheld torch (with extra batteries) 


[ ] Sunscreen (with a high SPF) 

[ ] Hand sanitiser

[ ] Blister Kit

[ ]Insect repellent 

[ ] Personal medications