Winter Walking – 5 things to wear to keep warm and comfortable on your winter adventures
Have you found your perfect kit for winter adventures?
Whether you’re a big fan of winter or not, there is no avoiding it.. and it would be a shame if we let it put too much of a limit to our adventures.
Personally, I love cold, frosty, snowy days. The thought of being snowed in is my idea of heaven.. I guess I’m lucky that I work from home and don’t have to do a school run. Also that we have two wonderful log burners and I don’t need an excuse to cosy up in front of those for a while..
I’ve been out and about quite a bit this winter already. Partly to do with my guest blog for Conwy Valley Railway as I’m working through a range of walks which are accessible from the train line.. these need to be walked and blogged by March! Partly to do with the fact that I have set myself some quite big challenges this year including Nijmegen Marches so I need to get my legs used to doing that kind of mileage again.. and the training can’t wait until spring! I don’t do much winter stuff in the mountains if there’s snow on the ground. I’ve mainly stayed low level and enjoyed getting in the distances rather than the climbs.
I get asked a lot and see hundreds of facebook posts about kit, people asking for recommendations on what to wear. So I thought I’d share with you some of my very favourite outdoor/walking gear this winter.
I’ve had some kit disasters, spent a fortune on walking and outdoor clothes because I like the colour or it’s in the sale or it’s a brand I like. I’ve headed outdoors in clothes that feel uncomfortable or irritating within minutes of stepping outside. Yet most of the things I tell you about here I would (and do) happily wear every day, for work and even go to meetings in, but which are warm and comfortable and practical when I’m walking.
If you’re heading up high in the winter then this might need a rethink, although most of the kit I have talked about here would be perfectly suitable for the mountains, you may just need an additional layer or two.
So here are my five favourite items of clothing that I wear when I’m out walking (or not!) in Snowdonia in the winter.
Craghoppers Ladies Kiwi Pro Stretch Winter Lined Trousers
I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these trousers! I had searched everywhere for a pair of stretch walking trousers that were the right fit. As soon as I wore these for the first time I went straight back to buy another pair.
They fit really well, the material has a slight stretch so they are not restrictive in any way. It also helps that the inside is lined with fleece! They will keep you dry in a light shower without the need for waterproof trousers and dry off quickly once the rain (or snow) stops.
It’s a good job I have 2 pairs of these as I wear them most days because they are so comfortable even for working in. They also look and feel quite smart so if I have a meeting about one of our events I can wear these.
Two large zip pockets big enough to store a phone and they come with a belt. As you can imagine they have been washed and washed and still look like new.. they dry quickly and they don’t need ironing!
If I had to pick anything that could be improved I would ask Craghoppers to make a size 13 as the 12 was too tight so i bought size 14 but I do need to wear a belt… but that’s usually the same with most trousers on me!
Cotswold Outdoor – £40 (in the sale)
Kari Traa Merino Baselayer
This is another one of those items I loved as soon as I wore it. I initially bought the blue one (shown in the picture) and then went back to get one in a raspberry colour. I wasn’t sure I could justify buying a second one due to the price, but then I couldn’t argue with Stu telling me numerous times that I should because it looked so nice. I have definitely had my monies worth out of them both already!
They are merino wool making them really warm and soft but not itchy at all. I have very sensitive skin so anything the slightest bit irritating and I wouldn’t be able to wear it. I have worn other base layers which don’t feel as warm as this but then get too hot once the body temperature starts to rise. These seem to regulate body temperature really well. Whether I’ve been doing a long walk or climbing a mountain I have never once wished I hadn’t worn this top because its too hot, yet I’ll be happy with this and just a light down jacket in low temperatures.
I live in these in the winter! I’m very fussy with tops and struggle to find something I like which fits well but these are amazing and really flattering. The colours are also gorgeous (much nicer than it looks in the photo). Lovely high neck with a zip and long sleeves which don’t ride up your arm when you put your coat on.
If I had to choose one thing to improve it would be to have thumb holes in the sleeves. Its not really an issue just personal preference.. It certainly won’t stop me wearing them!
Cotswold Outdoor – £90
Mountain Equipment Astral Jacket
I love this jacket! Its made from Polartec Powershield Lite weather resistant fabric which means it’s wind and shower proof basically! It’s so comfortable to wear. It fits really well and the fabric has a slight stretch so not restrictive at all.
I have worn this jacket over my Kari Traa base layer and underneath my Ayacucho down jacket in minus 6 and been warm enough while walking. It’s also thin enough to use as a layer without feeling like the Michelin man. The sleeves are a good length with a soft fitted cuff and don’t rise up your arm.
During the summer months I will always pack this as a layer when I’m going into the mountains as it’s light to carry and not bulky yet provides just the required amount of warmth and protection from the wind. I rarely use the hood as I prefer to wear a hat or a buff but when I have used it (mainly for wind protection) it has worked really well and stayed in place without blowing off my head!
Again, because it’s smart I can also wear during the day and for meetings.
If I had to chose one thing I would change about this jacket it would be the hood. You can get this jacket without the hood now which I think I’d prefer. It can be rolled up and clipped out of the way but this makes it a bit bulky at the back of your neck. Oh and maybe those thumb holes in the sleeves again..
Cotswold Outdoor – £160
Ayacucho Atlas Down Jacket
This was a present from Stu one Christmas. I’d spotted it in the window of Cotswold and really liked the colour so dropped a big hint. I’m not sure (had I tried it on) that I would have bought it myself at the time; however, it has become one of those ‘go to’ jackets. You know the ones that you wonder what you ever wore before you had it?
It’s really light and not bulky at all yet provides just the right amount of warmth. I have worn it to the top of Snowdon in fog and drizzle all the way and (fortunately) stayed dry. Waterproofs had stayed in my bag, I didn’t realise quite how wet it was until I took it off!
If it does get wet (or you need to wash it) a quick blast in the tumble dryer on cool and the down fluffs up like new.
I usually carry this jacket whenever I go into the mountains because it’s so light and will ‘squish’ right down in a dry bag to about the size ofa small melon. Even in the summer this is a great jacket to carry to keep you warm on the tops! I have a Mountain equipment winter down jacket for really cold days which I love but for lower level when I’m walking it can get too hot where this one is perfect.
It’s a tough one but If I HAD to chose one thing I would change about this jacket I would probably chose to have it without the hood.
Cotswold Outdoor – £140
I’m a hat person. I love them. I have loads..
Some hats I wear all the time but others just sit in the draw. I couldn’t really chose one of them to write about so I decided instead to tell you about my Buff! For those of you that don’t know a Buff is a seamless ‘tube’ of fabric which can be worn in a variety of ways. They are made from lovely soft, stretchy fabric.
My Buff is the one thing that, if I can’t find it when I’m going out for a walk, I panic. I actually have two but one is my favourite. If I cant find my favourite one I’ll take the spare.. but I ALWAYS take one!
They are just so useful! I wear it around my neck (or even over my mouth) when it’s really cold and I’m wearing a hat. But I mainly wear it around my head to keep my hair away from my face and my ears warm when I’m too hot to wear a hat.
It’s great for running in too as it’s not too tight around your head and doesn’t move once it’s in place. In the summer when its really hot I’ll wear it around my wrist to ‘wipe my brow’ (wasn’t sure how to write that but without mentioning sweat! :)) I’ve also used it as a scrunchie to tie my hair up out of the way.
One of the best things about Buff is that they come in a whole range of colours!
If I had to chose one thing I would change about Buff’s its that they didn’t get lost so easily 😉
Most outdoor shops – £15 – £20