Let’s rewrite the winter narrative, shall we?
So-long seasonal depression and cabin fever, and hellloo snow stoke and winter wonderland adventures.
Sometimes all you need to enjoy the dropping temperatures is the appropriate winter hiking clothes and gear to help you get out and stay out, all season long.
As a previous downright winter loather turned winter lover, I’ve done my fair share of trial and error when it comes to finding the best winter hiking clothes for women.
Turns out, winter isn’t so bad when you’re prepared and therefore not freezing. Who knew?
In this guide, I highlight my go-to winter hiking clothes for women, winter gear must-haves, how to properly layer, winter safety, and more.
Table of Contents
Winter Hiking Clothes and Gear for Women
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The Basics of Dressing Appropriately for Winter
Enjoying winter adventures boils down to being prepared and dressed appropriately.
Before diving into my winter hiking clothes recommendations for women, here’s a quick rundown of winter clothing basics.
Wool Is King
When asked about my go-to winter hiking clothes for women, I always start with the importance of wool. Wool is a great fabric to layer with when preparing to venture outdoors in cold temperatures.
Wool is lightweight yet durable, water-resistant, and great at trapping your body’s natural heat — helping you stay warmer, longer.
Even better, if your wool layer does get wet, the fabric doesn’t absorb the water into its interior layer. A.ka. you remain warm.
Staying Dry Is Your Lifeline
The quickest way to feel cold and miserable on a winter hike is to get wet.
When it comes to your shoes and outer layers, make sure to opt for water-proof items. When shopping for waterproof layers, I always look for a GORE-TEX tag.
GORE-TEX is a waterproof, windproof, durable, and lightweight technology integrated into a range of outer layers and shoes.
If stay drying is your number one prerogative, GORE-TEX is your best friend.
Layering Is a Non-negotiable
Gone are the days of trusting a big, single jacket to keep you warm. The magic is in the layering.
Before embarking on a winter adventure (depending on the temperature), bundle up with a base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer. The same goes for layer your bottoms: make sure to dress with a base layer before putting on your outer layer.
Layering not only keeps you toasty but allows you to shed layers should things begin to warm up.
My Go-To Winter Hiking Clothes for Women
Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite winter hiking clothes for women: from base layers to mid layers, and outer layers to accessories.
Each piece included in this guide I personally own and love. Before buying, I researched the warmth, waterproofness, and durability of each item.
I also took into account style — look good, feel good — amiright?!
With that being said, winter hiking clothes for women can get pricey. To make sure this guide serves everyone trying to get outdoors during the cold season, I’ve also included budget-friendly alternatives.
While I might not own these items, a lot of research was put into picking these alternatives, and can be purchased with confidence.
Winter Base Layers for Women
Let’s dive into my go-to recommendations for winter hiking clothes for women, starting with base layers — the foundation. While puffy jackets get all the credit, it’s our base layers that are putting in most of the work.
Below are my tried and true base layer recommendations, including tops and bottoms.
Base Layer Tops
Kari Traa Else Half Zip Baselayer
Kari Traa is my newest obsession for several reasons. For starters, their slogan says it all: For her. By her.
I think we all can get on board with that.
Being a woman-owned and focused brand it’s no surprise that they make adorable winter hiking and adventure clothes for women. If money grew on trees, I’d own a base layer in every color and print.
The Else Half ZIp is 100% wool, flattering, and flexible so you can stay warm and dry while adventuring in the cold.
Shop Kari Traa Baselayer ($110)
Flylow Sandra Fleece
The Flylow Sandra Fleece is my go-to because of its warmth.
The top is made from gridded fleece and has a water-repellent finish to keep you not only warm but dry.
The two features I love most about the Flylow fleece are the turtleneck and the thumbholes. The thumbholes hold the layer in place while adventuring, while the high neck makes sure a draft doesn’t get under my layers.
If I know it’s going to be cold out, the Flylow Fleece is the layer I reach for.
Shop Flylow Fleece ($110)
Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Crew Base Layer Top
This Smartwool Classic Thermal is a must-have in your base layer arsenal.
Considering how thin and comfortable this base layer is, it over-delivers on thermoregulation, odor resistance, and breathability.
It’s light enough that it can work as a base layer on warmer winter days, or as a base layer under your beefier base layer for added warmth — which is how I like to utilize it.
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op Merino 185 Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top
Unfortunately, a hefty price tag tends to accompany high-quality warm base layers — but that’s not the case with the REI Merino 185 Base Layer.
Made of 100% wool but at a much more affordable price.
While this REI base layer shaves some dollars off of its price, rest assured knowing you’re not sacrificing any warmth, comfort, moisture-wicking, or odor-resistant capabilities.
Base Layer Bottoms
Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Bottoms
If I want a lightweight and breathable base layer, I opt for the Smartwool Classic Thermal Base Layer Bottoms.
These leggings have a not-there feel to them yet do their job of keeping my legs warm on any adventure. Plus, they come in a lot of fun colors and patterns. Who doesn’t love that?
My only complaint with these base layer bottoms is their low-hip fit. With that being said, despite the low-rise waistband I haven’t had any issues with them slipping.
Smartwool Intraknit Merino Leggings
For a thicker, warmer base layer bottom, look no further than the Smartwool Intraknit Merino Leggings.
These are my favorite cold-weather adventure leggings. I love that these can be worn by themselves as leggings, or layered with an outer shell for those exceptionally chilly days on the mountain.
Anytime I’m skiing, you can bet I’m rocking these Smartwool leggings under my bibs.
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op Merino 185 Base Layer Bottoms
Again, for an affordable but high-quality alternative consider the REI Merino Base Layer Bottoms.
Constructed with the same material and technology as the aforementioned REI base layer top, these bottoms fit comfortably under outer layers and help provide that extra layer of warmth for your winter adventures.
Winter Mid Layers for Women
Depending on the outdoor temperature and exertion level required by the winter activity you’re embarking on, a mid-layer may or may not be necessary.
With that being said, I absolutely hate being cold so my motto is: You can always take layers off, but you can’t put them on if you left them at home.
When in doubt, throw on a mid-layer.
Here are my top picks for mid-layers for women to add to your collection of winter hiking clothes.
Mid Layer Tops
Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Vest
The Patagonia Nano Puff Vest is my go-to mid-layer whether I’m touring our local mountain or meeting some friends at the food truck lot.
The vest provides just enough warmth to your core, without overheating your extremities. It is extremely lightweight, warm, and windproof.
As a bonus, the vest can be stuffed into the inner chest pocket making it easy to pack away and stow in your bag should things heat up.
Stio Fremont Stretch Fleece Hoodie
Two words: Buttery smooth.
The Stio Fremont Hoodie is one of my most cherished items in my winter hiking clothes for women collection. The hoodie is soft and incredibly warm.
It stretches so you don’t feel restricted while out adventuring, and boasts a cozy high neckline and hood to keep out any drafts.
As with all Stio garments, this mid-layer comes with a hefty price tag but the quality and lifespan of the item make up for it.
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
For a one-stop shop jacket, look no further than the Patagonia Nano Puff.
A full version of the previously mentioned vest, this jacket was designed to keep you warm and moving with comfort on every adventure.
From snowshoeing to resort days, short hikes to long tours, this jacket traps body heat without restricting your movement.
The Patagonia Nano Puff acts as a great mid-layer on colder days or a perfect outer layer for spring conditions. It ain’t cheap, but it’s worth the investment.
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op Swiftland Insulated Running Jacket
For a less flashy, more affordable mid-layer option check out the REI Swiftland Insulated Running Jacket.
Crafted with a nylon shell, this jacket helps shield you from wind and light rain conditions. It has thumb holes to keep the jacket in place while moving, and also a nice fold-over cuff capability to keep your hands protected and toasty.
Shop REI Insulated Jacket ($100)
Mid Layer Bottoms
Stio Turpin Fleece Pant
These pants had me at Lavender.
Aesthetics aside, the Stio Turpin Fleece pant makes for an incredible mid-layer. On extra chilly days, I layer these pants under my shell ski bibs.
They’re cozy, breathable, and moisture-wicking — oh, and cute.
What I love about these pants is there a great 2-1 investment: they work as a great mid-layer or a perfect outer layer for après vibes and cozy cabin days.
Stio Fremont Stretch Fleece Jogger
Same, same, but different. These Stio Fremont Stretch Joggers are a little less bulky than the aforementioned fleece pants, offering more stretch and, in my opinion, more warmth.
Again, these pants double as a great mid or base layer, while also working as an outer layer depending on the winter adventure and outdoor temperature.
Shop Stio Fleece Jogger ($169)
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op Trailmade Fleece Pants
The coziest pant award goes to the REI Trailmade Fleece Pants.
These pants make for a great mid-layer to be worn under a shell or as a standalone warm fleece pant.
For a mid-layer pant that can do it all, the REI Trailmade Fleece Pants are a great, afforable option.
Shop REI Fleece Pants ($60)
Winter Outer Layers for Women
When it comes to buying the right winter hiking clothes for women, it’s important to keep in mind the type of activities you’ll be doing.
Below, I’ve compiled my favorite outer layer options for an array of winter activities, from hiking to skiing.
Keep in mind, skiing outerwear does not come cheap but if taken proper care of the items will last you several years.
Outer Layer Jackets
Outdoor Research Coldfront Down Hoodie
When looking for a down coat I can trust to keep me warm on all of my winter hikes — I always look to Outdoor Research.
Outdoor Research is king when it comes to crafting cozy and durable jackets. I have a past year’s anorak version of this jacket that’s lasted me years and still ranks as my favorite down coat to date.
The jacket boasts key features like a cinched hood, lined hand pockets, and internal stuff-sack capability. Not to mention, it feels like wearing you’re sleeping bag.
If I need a jacket that’s going to keep me warm despite the cold temperatures, this is the coat I grab before heading out.
Shop Coldfront Down Hoodie ($279)
Stio Hometown Down Hooded Jacket
For a mid-weight jacket alternative, I recommend the Stio Hometown Down Hooded Jacket. When it comes to style and aesthetics, this jacket takes the cake.
I’m obsessed with the coat’s buttery-soft feel, hand-warmer pockets, and super compressibility for easy packing.
As a lightweight coat, this jacket allows me to move comfortably on adventures without causing me to overheat.
Shop Stio Hometown Jacket ($329)
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket
For a great, every day down coat that won’t drain your bank account, consider the REI 650 Down Jacket.
This coat has a wind and water-resistant shell to keep you warm and dry in the crisp temperatures. The jacket isn’t restricting allowing you to move with comfort on your winter hiking adventures.
Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge GORE-TEX Jacket
This Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Jacket is my go-to jacket when hitting the slopes.
This jacket is warm but not overly bulky, and the GORE-TEX membrane keeps you dry even in the wetest of conditions.
Key features I love about this jacket are the zippered chest vents, hook-and-loop wrist cuffs, high neck coverage, and over-the-helmet hood capability.
I opted for the classic black for a timeless jacket I can use for years to come.
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op First Chair GTX ePE Jacket
Unfortunately, ski coats don’t really come in “budget” options, but the REI First Chair GTX ePE Jacket allows you to save a couple of bucks without compromising on quality.
This coat makes for a perfect ski shell — it’s light (perfect for layering), breathable, waterproof, and windproof.
As far as features go, REI thought of everything with this coat: helmet-friendly and adjustable hood, high collar, pit zips, hook-and-loop cuffs, powder skirt, lift pass pocket, fizzy lined hand pockets, and more.
Outer Layer Bottoms
REI Co-op Sahara Lined Pants
The REI Sahara Lined Pants are, hands down, my favorite winter hiking pants.
They’re my go-to winter replacement for the equally awesome REI Trailmade Pants. These pants are lined with a soft tricot fabric that keeps your lower body warm despite the cold temperatures.
While they’re lined, they don’t feel bulky or restrictive, making them a must-have in your winter hiking clothes for women collection.
Mountain Hardwear Yumalina Fleece Lined Pants
Fully lined with microfleece, these Mountain Hardwear Fleece Lined Pants are a game-changer for winter hiking.
These pants can be cinched at the waist and ankles to get the right fit, and are complete with 4-way stretch to ensure you move with comfort on the trails.
I practically live in these, or the REI Sahara Lined Pants all winter long.
Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge GORE-TEX Bib Pant
I’ve owned several ski bibs over the years, but the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge GORE-TEX Bib Pant is the GOAT.
Not only do these bibs look good, they feel good.
There are several things I love about these pants including the full-length side zipper (think restroom), thigh vents for airflow, hip belt for fit adjustment, and pocket sleeve for ski pass — to name a few.
The shell construction of these bibs makes them a perfect touring or snowshoeing bib, as well as a ski resort bib with room to layer.
Budget-Friendly Alternative: REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Bib Snow Pants
REI has done it again — creating a stylish, durable, and feature-filled affordable alternative.
Hit the slopes with confidence in the REI Powderbound Insulated Bib Snow Pants. These bibs are breathable, while also being windproof and waterproof.
Rest assured they also have a drop tail feature (for easy restroom access) — a must–have feature, by the way, when choosing bibs.
My Go-To Winter Clothing Accessories for Women
Gloves and Mittens
Smartwool Thermal Merino Gloves
Sometimes you need a little extra warmth under your gloves or mitts.
I always layer under my mitts while skiing with these Smartwool thermal Merino Gloves. These thin gloves are perfect for the moments you have to pull off your gloves on the chair lift or lift line.
They’re touch-screen compatible, allowing you more dexterity without sacrificing all of your warmth.
Outdoor Research Trail Mix Gloves
For a thicker glove option that doesn’t overdo it, consider the Outdoor Research Trail Mix Gloves.
I love these gloves for several reasons (one being just how cute they are), but also the warmth and coziness the grid fleece provides. Not to mention, they’re made with breathable, durable, wicking, and quick-drying fabric.
They too are touchscreen-compatible.
Outdoor Research Stormtracker Sensor Gloves
For a more durable option but still a mid-weight glove, I opt for the Outdoor Research Stormtracker Sensor Gloves.
These are my go-to ski touring/snowshoeing gloves.
The Stormtracker Gloves are constructed with a windproof and waterproof GORE-TREX fabric making them a great accessory to have in your winter hiking clothes for women collection.
The palms are grip-friendly, and the fingers touchscreen-compatible.
Flylow Unicorn Mittens
Lastly, the Flylow Unicorn Mittens are my choice for gloves while skiing.
I prefer to wear mitts over gloves when spending hours at a time on the mountain. Mittens trap natural heat from your fingers keeping your hands warmer, longer.
.As I mentioned previously, on extra cold days I layer the Smartwool Thermal Merino Gloves under these mitts.
The Flylow Unicorn Mittens are highly durable and weather resistant keeping your hands dry and warm despite how long you stay to shred.
Plus they’re just cute. Just look at those colors!
Hats, Beanies, and Balaclavas
Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Cuffed Beanie
For a great, lightweight beanie that will stay in place despite how much you’re moving, check out the Smartwool Thermal Merino Beanie.
This is one of my favorite beanies for winter activities I know I’ll break a sweat. It’s warm without the bulkiness and comes in fun bold colors.
Kari Traa Merino Wool Beanie and Neck Tube
I know I’m not the only one who fell in love with everything Kari Traa this season.
From their wool base layers to their accessories each item is perfectly crafted to help you stay warm while adventuring and feeling like the main character of winter.
I love rocking this alpine combo. You can mix and match their beanies and neck warmers or wear them together, like me. These Kari Traa accessories make great touring, snowshoeing, or après ski additions.
As a bonus, Kari Traa is women-owned and focused.
Shop Kari Traa Accessories ($30-$35)
Notice the Reckless Beanie
Less of an adventure beanie, and more of a winter outing beanie — this Notice the Reckless beanie is a staple in my wardrobe all winter long.
Its short rolled style and relaxed fit don’t make for the best winter hiking accessory but it’s sure to get you lots of compliments when you head out to grab a drink-post adventure.
I love this hat so much that I bought it in two colors: Purple Haze and Key Lime.
Skida Balaclavas, Beanie, and Neck Tubes
I mean… need I say more?
When it comes to designing awesome winter headwear — Skida is queen. While I own several Skida patterns and prints, this Golden Girl print is my newest obsession.
I never ski without a balaclava, and I prefer to tour in an alpine hat and neck warmer.
Regardless of the activity, Skida has you covered. Another rad women-owned company to celebrate.
Shop Skida Headwear ($30)
Darn Tough Socks
When it comes to keeping my feet warm, dry, and blister-free I trust two brands: Darn Tough and Smartwool (more on them next).
Regardless of the winter adventure, you can trust Darn Tough Socks to do their job. As a bonus, the socks are all still made in the USA and come with a lifetime guarantee.
Shop Dark Tough Socks ($24-$33)
Depending on the outing, keep in mind the amount of cushion, coverage, and warmth you want.
Thanks to the Merino Wool used in their socks, they’re not just warm but also moisture-wicking and odor-resistant.
Shop Smartwool Socks ($27-$30)
If you have any questions about selecting the best winter hiking clothes for women, leave me a comment below.
Bundle up, and happy adventuring!
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