How to



Extremely Cold Temperatures

Have you ever wanted to hike in extremely cold temperatures and weather conditions?

These temperatures for these last few days have been pretty dangerous. I’d never recommend hiking in wind-chill of -20 or lower like we’ve been experiencing in the Midwest.

But that isn’t to say I’ve never been for a hike in extremely cold weather.

I have. I probably will again. I’ve learned how to do it safely. If you ever wish to do it, I’ll tell you what I do to help you stay safe.

Let’s jump right into how to hike in extremely cold temperatures now.

Hike in Extremely Cold Temps by Layering Up

I layer up when I hike in extremely cold weather. I layer up in specific ways.

I start with a thin, whickering base layer. This usually consists of a long-sleeved synthetic wool shirt and tights. Then I put on a pair of insulated running tights over the thinner pair. I wore a regular t-shirt, a hoodie, and a wind-proof/rain-resistant hiking jacket. I put on my hiking pants which are tactical police-styled cargo pants.

I put on synthetic wool hiking socks and an extra pair of thicker alpaca wool socks over them. I always buy larger boots so I can use insulated socks.

I wear a glove liner under my thick winter gloves.

I wear a sock cap to keep my head and ears warm. I might even use a thick scarf to cover my neck and face.

Staying warm and dry is key to being able to hike in extremely cold weather.

You want to layer up in case you start to get hot. Then you can begin to shedding different layers to balance yourself out.

Hike in Extremely Cold Weather

Stick to Easy and Short Hikes

Don’t hike in extremely cold weather on longer and rugged trails. Leave those trails for nicer weather.

I won’t tell you not to get out when it’s cold. It’s a fantastic experience to hike in extremely cold weather. But it is not an experience you want to do for a long time.

Focus on short hiking trails that won’t result in many rugged conditions.

The last thing you want to do is get hurt bad enough that you can’t get back to where you started.

Having to stay in the extreme cold could mean you’ll become seriously frostbitten overnight. You might even die as a result.

Choose easier hikes if you want to experience a hike in extremely cold weather.


Before You Hike in Extremely Cold Weather – Think!

The last thing you want to do is become stranded before, during, or after your hike in extremely cold conditions.

If you get in a wreck or get stuck, a tow truck driver must come out. If you get lost, search and rescue will have to come out. If you get hurt, the ambulance service will have to come out. Anyone who has to respond to you will be put in harm’s way.

Think about others before you hike in extremely cold weather conditions.

When doing it, we usually stick to trails that are close by and easy to access.

There are plenty of great indoor activities when the weather is worse.

So always put your safety and the safety of others first before going for a hike in extremely cold weather.


And those are my tips for hiking in extremely cold weather. Always put your safety before anything else and think about others who might have to respond if you get hurt or disabled. Thanks for checking out my article, and I encourage you to subscribe to my newsletter for more tips like this one.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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