Essential Winter Kit

Essential Winter Kit

Winter hiking is very exciting and thoroughly enjoyable – as long as you are prepared. Always ensure you have at the correct winter kit for the walk you are undertaking.

Weather conditions change dramatically with very little warning sometimes. Understanding the risks as well as your own limitations could be the difference between life and death.

Here we take a look at some key Winter kit for hiking in the UK.

Ice Axes

Your winter kit should include a walking axe. The axe will provide much needed stability on snowy terrain.

In England you don’t need anything too fancy and typically axes are 50-70cm long. Generally speaking the taller you are the longer the axe.

Grivel do a good range of Axes that cover general winter walking requirements and more technical mountaineering requirements.

The curve of the axe dictates what it was designed for. Walking axes are generally a straight shaft where mountaineering axes have more of a curve to them.

If you are unsure of what Axe is right for you always ask advice from a reputable store.


Crampons are essential when hiking in icy or snowy conditions. They come in a range of materials and are suited to a variety of difficulty levels.

For basic winter walking you should be fine utilising a C1 grade of crampon, these are more flexible and designed for less challenging terrain.

Basic crampons will fit almost any type of walking boot, utilising straps at the toe and heel. If you require more technical models it is important to ensure your choice of crampon will fit your walking boot.

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

An important piece of outdoor gear all year round in the UK but a good fitting waterproof in Winter is essential. Choosing a waterproof is always a compromise between individual preference and what is required. Our Editor Louise for example has struggled to find a waterproof that gave her a good fit across the chest without having to size up which resulted in longer arm lengths. She recently purchased and is in love with her Montane Womens Element Stretch Jacket.

Louise and Neil tackling Helvellyn in the snow


Thought should be given to the amount of room you are going to need when it comes to choosing a rucksack. You will want something around 30-40 litres for a good daypack. Everything with winter hiking is extra effort and that is the same with a rucksack. You will need extra food and drink, extra layers to carry as well as space for an ice axe, poles and a pair of crampons.

We recently purchased and immediately tried out the Osprey Kestral 38 rucksack. This pack is designed for multi-day trip and is not out of place on a tougher winter route. Comfortable and durable we think you would find it useful for both summer and winter hiking.


As we are all aware the Winter months don’t offer much in the way of sunlight. It is more important than ever to ensure you are able to see where you are going. Having climbed several Mountains in the dark choosing the right headtorch is essential.

Measured in lumens the light output for a night in the Mountains would need to be around 300 lumens. Obviously dependant on your requirements this could go up, however this will also increase the power usage.

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable which then requires a separate charging device, AA or AAA batteries make replacing the power simpler.

Food & Drink

It sounds really obvious but one of the most important things you can do is ensure you have enough fluids and food supplies. Most rucksacks have a Hydration pack system complete with a reservoir or “bladder” to make hydrating on your walk easy going.

Helvellyn in Winter

In Winter it is well worth packing a flask of something hot – trust us it is essential in cold weather when you are burning more calories.

Sunglasses and Sunblock

Sunglasses will reduce the glare from the snow, if you are entering more difficult conditions a pair of ski or snowboard goggles would be even better. Many people don’t realise that winter conditions can also be sunny and therefore forget to pack sunblock. We have completed several winter hikes which resulted in a nice tan.

Follow by Email