Essential Winter Hiking Gear Checklist

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snowy view from the summit of wittenberg

Wittenberg in Winter

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This essential winter hiking gear checklist for day-hikes is dialed-in for the Catskills. It’s a great jumping-off gear list for cold weather hiking.

Winter hiking gear will help you feel better. It might also save your life.

This winter hike checklist covers all the winter hiking gear you need to consider before heading out on a cold weather hike: clothing, footwear, extra traction, food and hydration, and tweaks to increase your safety and comfort.

Hiking in Winter

We don’t have to wait for winter to experience winter conditions on a hike. Any time from October on, mountain hikers can encounter extreme low temperatures that make hiking uncomfortable and even dangerous.

Hiker showing two fingers on a snowy mountain
Sean on Sugarloaf Mountain in the Catskills in February

This winter hiking gear checklist builds on Winter Hiking Gear: Survive & Thrive in the Cold which you should review before continuing.

The winter-specific essentials listed here are in addition to The 10 Essentials and a basic mountain hiking kit.

Do not go gently into the cold. Make sure you’re fully prepared with all the knowledge, skills and winter hiking gear that you need. This checklist focuses on essential winter hiking gear.

Catskills Winter Hiking Gear Checklist

  • Pre-Planning – research your route, emergency numbers, basic gear requirements
  • Clothes – winter hiking requires many more layers than three-season hiking
  • Traction – proper winter traction is crucial for your safety
  • Food & Hydration – on winter hikes, you burn more calories, and faster
  • Tweaks – hike smarter this winter
  • Packing – more gear means more weight, and a brand new center of gravity
  • Bonus: Master Checklista one-page cheat sheet

Only two Catskill summits (Slide and Hunter) are higher than 4,000 feet. No Catskills summits are above tree line. Conditions tend to be not as severe here as in more exposed mountain ranges. Therefore this list should not be used to prep winter hiking gear for any hike in the Adirondacks, or any other mountain range.

But if you’re thinking of trying a cold weather hike, this checklist is a great place to start your research.

Download it here…

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Here are some more links to help your research on winter hiking essentials and techniques…


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This document does not address the risks intrinsic to winter hiking which include exposure to lethal weather, frostbite, hypothermia, deadly terrain, slips, falls, bone breaks and concussions in isolated areas where no help is available. Cell service is not available in remote areas. In the event of any injury, hypothermia can follow quickly — and potentially death. It does happen. Every wilderness hiker should plan on having to self-rescue. Before venturing into the wilderness, even on well-known and popular trails, you must have the requisite knowledge, skills, gear and experience. Never hike alone. A group of at least three is always advised. This PDF lists common winter day-hiking gear. It should be used in conjunction with your own research, self-education, and in-person training. One PDF ain’t it.

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