Cold and Wet Weather Hiking Gear for the Family

Just because it's cold and or wet outside doesn't mean you have to stop hiking. Proper gear will keep you warm and dry. Plus, it will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors under almost any conditions.

Here's a list of highly recommended base layers and shells that will help keep the whole family active and safe through the cold winter and damp spring.

Base Layers

The first article of clothing you put on is a breathable wicking base layer. It's good any time of year and essential in winter.

Three options are:

The long sleeve Atlas (men's, women's) from Icebreaker is soft, comfortable and the lightest pure merino wool base layer available. The Atlas is so light, you can hike in it year round. The Mondo Zip  from Icebreaker is perfect for the kids.

For colder weather, the Integral long sleeve crew (men's, women's) and the Integral tights (men's, women's) from Mountain Hardwear blend merino wool and recycled polyester. The result is warmth with exceptional wicking performance.

From Outdoor Research, the Sequence long sleeve zip tee for men, and the Essence long sleeve zip tee for women, are great base / mid-layer options. Comprised of a polyester / merino wool blend, the Sequence and Essence allow for layering possibilities under a variety of conditions.

Shells

A waterproof breathable shell is what ultimately protects you from the elements. Use a shell in conjunction with base and middle layers (wool and fleece sweaters make great mid layers) to create a system that keeps rain out and warmth in. A good shell will allow perspiration to escape.

Here are five great options:

The Trail Line from Columbia Sportswear is a very breathable water resistant jacket. The Trail Line (men only) is comfy and works great for misty hikes or spring morning walks.

The Helium Jacket (men's, women's) from Outdoor Research is the lightest weatherproof shell on the market. It compacts into its own side hem stuff pocket and is ideal for backpacking or in combination with mid layers.

Sierra Designs produces a light and warm Toaster Jacket (men's, women's). The insulated shell is water and windproof and employs condor construction, a Tricot Chin guard, an adjustable hood with a visor to lock out the cold and wet. The kid version of the Toaster is a dream for parents. The versatile shell works as a stand alone jacket for walking to school, or a completely weatherproof shell for nastier outings.

The Badlands Trinity 3-layer hardshell pant (men's, women's) from GoLite is absolutely ideal for inclement hiking conditions. The very waterproof, yet breathable pants, are made from 100 percent recycled polyester face fabric and are very light and comfortable.

The Epic Pant from Mountain Hardwear is ideal for kids. The epic Pant is affordable, lightweight, breathable and stands up well to wear and tear.

Dress warm and have fun when you hit the outdoors with your family.


Hiking Examiner Adam Sawyer is a writer/photographer living in Portland, Oregon.

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