Top 10 Items of Winter Walking Gear

Stay Warm and Safe on Frigid Walks

Your first step in winter is safety. That includes keeping your skin protected from frigid wind and frostbite and preventing slips and falls on slippery surfaces. Your second step is staying both warm and dry. In days of yore, winter clothing meant wearing wool and down. Today, it means warm and wicking fleece to manage both heat and sweat. Layer your clothing top to bottom, inside to out, with moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics. Here are items you need for those cold walks.

1

Smartwool takes most of the itch out of wool. Their light hiker sock styles are perfect for winter walking. Smartwool wicks moisture away and dries fast. The socks have an arch base to give you increased support and comfort. They have medium density sole padding for extra foot cushioning. The light hiker styles come in crew length, mini-crew and micro length, and in men's, women's and kid's designs.

2

A Buff is a seamless tube of fabric that can be worn as a hat, neck gaiter, ski mask, or balaclava. You may have seen contestants on "Survivor" using their Buffs in many different ways. A polar Buff has a band of microfleece at one end for extra warmth. It makes a great balaclava to cover the head, neck, and chin. You can layer it under another hat or a bike helmet. The Buff packs up very small. It is easy to carry one in your pocket, purse, or pack to use when you really need it, and stow it once you have warmed up.

3

When the temperature falls below 40 F, you may want to switch to a microfleece hat. Having a hat with ear flaps can keep your ears from getting cold. They don't have to be exaggerated and look like a hunting cap. A cap with a bill helps keep the sun and rain out of your eyes while walking. This one also features a wide ponytail window. In fact, you can turn it around and wear it so you are looking through that window and your mouth and chin are covered like with a balaclava.

4

Windproof mittens are best for keeping your fingers warm, but then what do you do when you need to manipulate your smartphone? Nathan Transwarmer Gloves are a great solution. The finger glove is made with stretchy wind-resistant and DWR water-resistant finish. It has tru-touch on your texting fingers so you can operate your smart phone. But it adds an over-mitten that is windproof but can be tucked away when you don't want it. For safety, it has reflective trim and bright red LED lights on the back of the hand.

5

Polyester microfleece is cozy and soft, yet wicks away moisture and insulates on the cold walking days. When the temperatures dive below 40 F, you can layer a microfleece pullover under your waterproof jacket as your insulating layer. The pullover does double duty at home, as you can slip into a microfleece pullover to warm up after a winter walk.

6

For the really brutal days, you need an insulation layer between your shirt and your jacket. A microfleece vest insulates, yet is thin enough not to add bulk. The fleece provides warmth and has a water-repellent coating. Moisture can escape so you won't get clammy.

7

Your base layer for cold walking must have high wicking capabilities and provide some insulation. A base layer shirt may be made of polyester, silk or lightweight wool. Some walkers love the Icebreaker base layer shirts made of non-itchy merino wool.

8

When it gets really cold, your legs will also want insulation. Wear these wicking long johns under your walking pants. You want a snug fit for ease of layering under your walking pants. But others may want the extra warmth of Smartwool versions.

9

Stay safe with slip-on cleats for your shoes or boots. You may want a couple of pairs to keep handy for those unexpected times when you need them for icy or snowy sidewalks. It's wise to keep a pair at home, in your car, and at your workplace. They slip on over your shoes or boots and slip off once you are safely inside.

10

For extra stability on slippery surfaces, a pair of trekking poles can be a lifesaver. Give yourself 4-wheel drive by walking with trekking poles. These have tungsten carbide tips for biting into soft surfaces and durable rubber tips for sidewalks. When it's snowy, use the removable snow baskets to keep the poles from sinking through the drifts. The poles clip together for storage and extend from 25.75 inches to 54 inches. They are inexpensive enough that you can buy pairs to have handy in your vehicle, at home, and at your workplace. 

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