Top Winter Walking Gear

Your first step in winter is safety. Your second step is staying both warm and dry. In days of yore winter meant wool and down. Today, it means warm and wicking fleece to manage both heat and sweat. Layer yourself top to bottom, inside to out with wicking and breathable fabrics.


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 giveyou 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.


A Buff is a seamless tube of fabric that can be worn as a hat, a neck gaiter, a 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. 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.


When the temperature falls below 40F, I like to switch to a microfleece hat. It has to have ear coverings, as my ears get very cold. A baseball cap with ear flaps provides good coverage for the ears without looking like a hunting cap. I like having a bill to keep the sun and rain out of my 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 - a balaclava!


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.


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


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.


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. My friend Nancy loves the Icebreaker base layer shirts made of non-itchy merino wool.


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


Stay safe with slip-on cleats for your shoes or boots. I keep a pair of these in my car throughout the winter for those times I have to trek on icy or snowy sidewalks. They slip on over your shoes or boots and slip off once you are safely inside.


Chains for your shoes. Keep these handy for trekking on icy or snowy sidewalks. They slip on over your shoes or boots and slip off once you are safely inside. Yaktrax uses coils rather than cleats or spikes. The Yaktrax Pro has a velcro strap across the top of the shoe for extra security.


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