How To Keep Warm In Winter | Hiking And Camping Tips - Outdoors Magic

Outdoors Gear, Equipment, News, Reviews, Forums, Walking Routes and More at


How To Guides

How To Keep Warm In Winter | Hiking And Camping Tips

Want to carry on reaping the rewards of outdoor exercise over the colder months but finding yourself constantly hampered by the elements? Here's what you need to know...

We all know how good time outdoors can be for our physical and mental well-being. The problem, however, is that while that outdoor time comes along easily in the summer months, winter is a completely different story. That’s when you’ve got to work for it; you can’t take your outdoor time when you like, you take it when you can – come rain or shine.

And that’s when good gear becomes essential. Obviously to keep warm during winter hiking, you want good kit that can keep you warm, dry and ultimately happy to be out, but what also really counts is how you use that gear and the routines and rituals as well.

We recently spoke to the following outdoor explorers to find out what tips and tricks they subscribe to when it comes to dealing with cold weather.

Anna Blackwell – Trekked 1,300km on foot through the Arctic and Northern Scandinavia

Ash Routen – Completed a 640km foot crossing of frozen Lake Baikal.

James Forrest – The fastest person to climb all 1001 mountains in Britain and Ireland

Mark Waring – Expert in Scandinavian trekking, packrafting and snowshoeing

Nicola Hardy – Climbed all 282 of Scotland’s Munros in 2019.

Ways To End Up Cold

To stay warm while hiking, it’s worthwhile understanding what can cause you to end up getting cold…

Mark: “If you’re cold on the trail, that means you’ve mainly allowed heat to be lost by ‘convection’ (either through moisture ingress or cold air penetrating your clothing) or by ‘radiation’ (when your clothing has failed to prevent your body heat from escaping). You may have poor quality or poorly maintained clothing and you are now wet or exposed to cold air. Alternatively, you may have exerted yourself and sweat has failed to wick away and has now cooled. You need to get rid of that moisture and get yourself warm again.”

What you need is to think about is wearing a clothing system that traps heat but prevents cold air or moisture from penetrating. Think layers as this will allow you to easily adjust and control the warmth around you (preventing sweat building up on your skin and subsequently freezing). Create a wind and water tight barrier to protect yourself.”

Anna: “The only time I ever really feel the cold is when I’ve stopped for a quick snack or break, but haven’t put on extra layers. It’s pretty classic to underestimate the bite of the wind or how much your temperature drops when you stop moving. I’ve learned to always have a few extra layers at the top of my rucksack where I can grab them out easily, be that a hardshell or insulated jacket, or even a bivvy to give myself extra protection from the elements.”

Synthetic Baselayers versus Merino

As well as having a good waterproof shell and midlayer insulation, baselayers can be absolutely vital, even on mild days. But with the array of different materials available, picking the right one can come across as a bit of a minefield.

Nicola: “I’m a big Merino fan. I prefer thick Merino garments for the winter. They are so comfy to sleep in and I even go the whole hog and wear a Merino bra, socks and knickers too!”

Comfortable against the elements in Haglöfs’ new V-Series Mimic jacket. This harnesses the power of graphene for lightweight, instant warmth – even in wet weather. Photo: Mike Brindley

James: “I don’t like Merino, even though many people swear by it. I find it quite itchy and it irritates my skin. I’m not sure why but it just doesn’t agree with me. I much prefer synthetic baselayers.”

Ash: “I prefer synthetic baselayers. They’re cheap, harder wearing (compared to pure Merino) and don’t hold too much moisture (i.e. they wick well).”

Related: Haglöf’s V-Series Mimic | Review

Mark: “In the summer synthetics are fine and have an advantage as they are more durable (much better for sitting directly underneath your pack straps and dealing with all that friction). In winter wool is my preferred baselayer by far as it can soak sweat and also retain heat. I wear 150 gsm Merino underwear next to skin and then layer over that with a heavier 250 gsm zip-up. I’ll then vent using the zip as needed.”

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of A Hot Drink

Not only will a hot drink in your flask or mug keep you warm on the inside of your body, but it can also help to keep you warm on the outside too. You can hold it in your hands like a hand warmer or even pop it inside your jacket like a hot water bottle. There’s no denying that a good hot drink can be a huge morale booster…

Haglöfs’ V Series Mimic uses a recycled polyester and also features an alternative durable water repellent that doesn’t require any eco-hazardous chemicals. Photo: Mike Brindley

James: “For wild camping I often have a hot chocolate after dinner – it feels like a homely, cosy thing to do. During the day, a flask of hot, sugary tea usually hits the spot too.”

Ash: “It’s nice to have a flask with some hot juice or water to sip at during breaks, but it’s not essential to me unless I’m on an arctic trip. In camp a hot drink is much more of an essential, and I usually like to have black tea, fruit tea, hot chocolate or Horlicks. I can easily drink 1L in the evening and 0.5-1L in the morning.”

Advice For the Overnights

When it comes to winter camping, it should go without saying that you’ll need a good tent, a lofty winter-rated sleeping bag and a sleeping mat with as high and R-value as possible (read our guide to sleeping mats for more on that). But what if you’re out in the field and find your ‘big three’ aren’t quite doing the job for you? Don’t worry – there are a few little tricks you can turn to…

Nicola: “I have two tricks for staying warm when camping. The first is to do star jumps before getting into bed – it helps get the blood flowing and makes you feel warmer. The second is to fill a Nalgene bottle full of hot water. Nalgenes are sufficiently sturdy and strong to cope with this. Then just put your bottle inside a spare sock and you’ve got yourself a makeshift hot water bottle.”

Ash: “I keep a chocolate bar or two at hand, so if I wake up cold in the night I have a munch on that. You get a small kick from the thermic effect of digestion. If not I will run inside my sleeping bag for a minute or two.”

Anna: “Once I’ve pitched up, one of the first things I do is get my sleeping bag out of its compression bag, shake it all out and let all the feathers unpack themselves to make my sleeping bag more efficient once I hop in. I also get a really cold bum when I’m in my sleeping bag (a girl thing, apparently), so I often zip my insulated jacket around the outside of my sleeping bag around this area and that works wonders.”

James: “I often wear an insulated jacket and wooly hat in my sleeping bag, and thick socks to keep my toes warm. But the best way to stay warm is simply to fall asleep quickly and slip away into the warm, cosy land of nod.”

Looking for the perfect insulated jacket for your cold weather adventures? Look no further than the new Haglöfs V-Series Mimic. Available from


In association with
Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.