Can you feel that nip in the air? Winter is most definitely on its way, and while that may mean we aren’t heading to the campsites, that doesn’t mean we can’t get out and about and enjoy the great outdoors.
In fact, autumn and winter are amazing times of the year for getting outside – and as the old saying goes: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.
We know that if you get cold when walking or hiking, then it’s not particularly pleasant, so we’ve put together some top tips and highlighted the outdoor clothing you need to stay warm on your walks this autumn and winter.
The key to staying warm is layering, and it’s really quite simple – the more layer you put on, the warmer you’ll be. This is because air gets trapped between each layer, acting as insulation.
When we talk about layering clothing, we usually refer to three layers – baselayers, mid-layers and outer layers, although you can have as many or as few layers as you need. Here’s a little more info about each layer:
This is the layer that goes against your skin and traps air against your body. Baselayers are usually made from stretchy, figure-hugging material that should also be breathable to allow material to escape away from your body. You shouldn’t wear a t-shirt as a base layer as this will likely retain moisture and make you cold.
As the name suggests, a mid-layer is the layer that goes in the middle, over the top of the baselayer and underneath the outer layer. Fleeces and softshells make excellent mid-layers, especially if they’re breathable to wick away moisture. On milder days, these can be worn as an outer layer.
See all of our fleece tops.
When the weather’s really cold and inclement, you’ll need a good quality outer layer to go on top of your other layers. A waterproof jacket is perfect as an outer layer, as it’ll keep you warm and stop water soaking through to your other layers. Ideally you should also go for a breathable material such as GORE-TEX so moisture doesn’t get trapped between layers. A lightweight jacket is recommended when layering so it can be easily packed away if you get too warm.
See all of our walking & hiking jackets.
Tips for layering
- A 3-in-1 jacket is an effective way of layering, combining the mid and outer layer in one jacket, which can then be separated up depending on the weather. Learn more in our 3-in-1 jacket buying guide.
- You can also layer on your lower body. We have baselayer ‘tights’ that will fit under your walking trousers, and then waterproof overtrousers to go on top. This works exactly the same way as layering on your upper body and will help keep your warmer when the temperatures plummet.
Learn more about how to layer clothing to stay warm
Protect your extremities
A surefire way to get cold is to not sufficiently protect your extremities, which are the parts of your body furthest away from your heart – so that means your hands, feet and head. If you don’t keep them warm, then it’s potentially very dangerous to not look after these parts of your body, and in really cold weather you could even fall victim to frostbite.
There are few things guaranteed to make you more miserable when you’re walking than having cold feet, so it’s important to keep them warm and dry. To do so, you’ll need some walking boots or shoes. If you’re walking longer distances or over rocky terrain, get some walking boots, but if you’re doing shorter, easier walks then walking shoes might be a better option.
If your feet get wet, then they’re going to get cold, so waterproof walking boots should be a priority. Most are waterproof these days, especially if you go for a synthetic material, but you can also treat them with waterproofing spray to double-down. If you’re going to be walking through water at any point, then you might want to also consider some gaiters.
And of course you’ll need some good quality walking socks to go underneath your boots as well, and if
Walking hats and gloves
Despite what people say, you actually lost most body heat through your torso, but you still lose a fair amount of body heat through your head, simply because it’s often uncovered. Obviously the best way to stop your head and ears getting cold (everyone hates cold ears) is to get yourself a walking hat or beanie.
Having cold hands is horrible. Not only is it potentially dangerous to let your hands get too cold, but you’ll also find it harder to move them, which can be problematic if you’re trying to tie laces, get something out of your bag, etc. Your best best is to get some walking gloves, and if they’re waterproof then that’s even better.
Top tips for walking in winter
Good planning is essential when hiking, and as long as you’re prepared, you should be able to deal with most things the great outdoors throws at you. Make sure you have all the kit you need, plan your route, and how long you think you’ll be gone.
Check the weather
This is another essential bit of planning. The weather in the UK can be unpredictable at the best of times, but can be especially so in winter at the top of a mountain. Plan what clothing to wear and take with you based on the weather, and keep checking as often as possible as it can quickly change.
Takes spare clothing
Take as much spare clothing as you can comfortably carry. You can add it as extra layers if you get cold, but more importantly you can replace wet clothes if you’re caught in bad weather. Wet clothing on a cold day is a one-way ticket to hypothermia, so some dry clothes could literally save your life.
Take a hot drink
Pop a hot drink or soup in a thermal flask – it might seem a bit of a pain to carry but you’ll be thankful when you can have a nice warm cup of tea.
Let someone know where you’re going
Always let someone who’s staying at home know where you’re going and when. Take your mobile phone with you (and battery pack if you can), but you might not get a signal, so by letting someone know where you’re going and when you should be back, they can alert someone if they’re worried you’re not back in time and can’t reach you.
Take a look at our full range of walking and hiking equipment – enjoy your walk and stay safe!
Last modified: September 4, 2019