Why you should wear merino wool apparel on your mountain adventures!

Whenever I read in spring that the hiking season has begun, I ask myself why there should be a season for hiking. After all, you can actually hike anytime and anywhere – and in winter even the landscapes are often particularly beautiful!

Ok, you may not be able to slip into your hiking boots as easily as in summer and start walking. But that’s no reason to banish them to the shoe closet for the winter!

With the right equipment and a few basic skills, you can be out and about in nature on foot even in winter.

Here are some useful tips for enjoying hikes in magical winter landscapes:

USEFUL EQUIPMENT FOR HIKING IN WINTER

Hiking with Crampons

When winter hiking I always have a pair of simple crampons for hiking boots with me in my luggage, which can make walking on ice and hard frozen snow much easier.

Crampons for hiking boots are lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and can be worn under almost any shoe and therefore there is really no reason not to take them with you.

Gaiters for Hiking

Also always with me, especially because I hike in winter mostly in light pants, and the snow can thus particularly easily make its way inside the shoes.

But also, in combination with normal hiking pants that go over the shoes, I find gaiters like this one very useful. They are quickly put on and sit securely on the leg, so you can jump through the snow without worry.

If you want to save yourself the purchase of gaiters or the weight and you have reasonably robust and at least water-repellent pants, but you can theoretically also simply tie them to the shaft of the shoe with a Velcro strap or piece of string so that it does not slip over the shoes.

functional hiking underwear

HIKING POLES FOR SNOW

Hiking in Snowshoes

Hiking Poles make life much easier as a winter hiker and they are virtually indispensable when walking uphill with snowshoes.

But only if you also use the right plates! Plates for winter hiking are larger than the classic version and therefore sink less into the snow.

When buying your poles, you should make sure that the plates are interchangeable, then you are also well equipped in the snow.

So I did it, for example, also with my sticks, which come from often with very small plates.

Snowshoes

Whether you need snowshoes on your hike, of course, depends entirely on the type of tour and the snow depth. I think you should rather have them once too much than once too little.

Because you never know exactly how the conditions are on-site and trudging through deep snow without snowshoes is only fun in moderation. There are also snowshoes in relatively light variants, so it is not so bad if you do not need them.

My snowshoes are not among the lightest, but they are very high quality, reliable and the simple and fast binding is really worth its weight in gold.

THE RIGHT SHOES FOR WINTER HIKING

If there’s one thing you should avoid at all costs during extended hiking tours in the snow, it’s wet and cold feet.

The right hiking boots for winter should, therefore, not only be waterproof over a longer period of time but also insulate as well as possible. In addition, they should definitely go over the ankle and provide good lateral support.

After I am very satisfied with my Timberland Ankle Boots on snow-free tours, I also own a pair of Lowa Men’s Tibet GTX Trekking Boots.

This model comes in addition to a warm lining and a higher shaft also with a sole designed for ice and snow with special textile inserts.

Before the purchase, I was afraid that the lining might get too warm for me on tour, but that hasn’t been the case at all so far.

Alternatively, and especially for winter hiking, you can, of course, also use normal mountain boots and simply complete them with a warm insole and extra thick socks if necessary.

Whatever shoes you use: Remember not to dry them on the heater or in the fireplace after the hike because this damages the leather.

Winter Hiking shoes

Important: Warm up from the inside and several short breaks

Should not be missing in any winter hiking backpack: A well-insulated thermos bottle including a hot drink. Because in the breaks, you quickly notice that effort and sweat in combination with cold temperatures is a pretty nasty mixture. A sip of warm tea or coffee works wonders and does quite well.

My favorite thing to do in the morning is to simply pack a few pieces of fresh ginger, some lemon slices and a bit of honey into the bottle and then just leave the mixture in the hot thermos bottle. The spiciness of the ginger then cranks up the blood flow and metabolism even more.

Taking enough breaks during winter hikes is often quite a challenge because a suitable place to sit is not so easy to find. And besides, you cool down very quickly after the exertion of sitting.

To avoid this, you should rather try to take several short breaks instead of a few long ones in winter. For these, it’s best to take a light, insulating seat cushion with you, which keeps the wet and cold at bay for a while.

Fine Wool Outdoor cloth

Merino wool is a real functional miracle and is perfect for hiking in all weather conditions

THE ONION PRINCIPLE

functional hiking cloth

Based on the layered structure of an onion, the onion system describes a proven and highly efficient method of combining different layers of clothing. 

The first layer of breathable underwear clings directly to the skin and draws moisture away from the body. On top of this is a thin, short-sleeved layer of clothing, followed by a sweater or vest. The final layer is a wind- and weatherproof jacket.

Depending on the outside temperature and physical exertion, individual layers are taken off or omitted altogether. The idea behind this: Air stored between the layers warms up and has an insulating effect. 

The body cools down more slowly, while at the same time, the air can circulate, and the body can breathe.

The following layers have proven effective for both shorter hikes and longer treks:

  • Base-Layer: The second skin is sometimes referred to as the first layer.
  • Second Layer: Thin shirts, often with fashionable designs.
  • Third layer: Warming vests and sweaters.
  • Top layer: Weatherproof jackets and pants to ward off outside elements.

Ortovox

Ortovox

Ortovox

What is a merino outfit for hiking?

The best hiking outfit ideally consists of 100 percent merino and covers all layers of the onion system – base layer to top layer- if possible.

This is obvious because hiking clothing made of merino wool is compelling due to its functional properties, which do not have to hide in any way from the synthetic fiber competition. Instead, the opposite is true!

Thus, natural merino wool clothing, unlike artificial products, among other things, odor-inhibiting and temperature-regulating and is both breathable and quick-drying.

Hiking clothing made of merino wool is perfect for your next adventure or the upcoming trekking tour.

But that’s not all: for us, a modern hiking outfit made of merino must convince not only with its fabric qualities and practical features but also with a timeless appearance.

After all, it’s not just during our hikes that we want to benefit from the soft feel of the fine wool on our skin and its climate-regulating properties.

The-structure-of-a-Merino-Wool-Fibre---Science-Image-high-res

Why hiking clothing made of merino wool is better?

cools by evaporation in warm temperatures

In general, wool is a 100 percent natural and renewable raw material and thus more ecologically sound than artificial fibers. Due to its fineness and soft feel, merino wool, in particular, is enjoying increasing popularity.

Its numerous functional properties have also been recognized by outdoor manufacturers, which is why it is mainly used in functional underwear, base-layer and mid-layers.

The main functional properties and advantages of merino wool derive directly from the natural structure of merino fibers:

  • natural material and biodegradable
  • transports moisture away from the skin
  • dries quickly
  • insulates and regulates temperature
  • cools by evaporation in warm temperatures
  • warms even when damp
  • breathable
  • odor-inhibiting and therefore needs to be washed less often
  • very soft and does not scratch the skin
  • less flammable than synthetic fibers
  • has a natural sun protection factor
  • unlike synthetic materials, does not become statically charged

Ortovox

Ortovox

Ortovox

*Of course, there is a whole repertoire of merino clothing explicitly aimed at female hikers.

For example, in addition to various merino hot pants, panties and women’s briefs, there are also sports bras made of merino wool.

SUN PROTECTION IN WINTER

Hiking in Winter Sun

Sunscreen and sunglasses are often forgotten in winter because they have something to do with summer. But, actually, they are much more important in winter because the snow reflects the sunlight, which hits the eyes and skin with all its force.

The sunscreen from the last beach vacation is still not the best idea because it contains a lot of moisture, which quickly freezes in the cold and can damage the skin.

Special creams containing fat are better for winter use. And as always, don’t forget your ears and lips! For the latter, it’s even best to use a greasy stick with UV protection.

And when it comes to sunglasses, you shouldn’t necessarily fall back on last summer’s relics, but instead, be sure to wear high-quality sunglasses with sufficient UV protection.

ENERGY DEMAND AND SUPPLY

What is enough in the summer must not be enough energy supply in cold temperatures.

On the one hand, the energy consumption is higher due to the cold since the body has to use more energy to maintain the temperature.

On the other hand, hiking in snow and ice is much more strenuous and energy-sapping than in summer.

And in addition, depending on the area, not all huts are open in winter that are open in summer, or they are hopelessly overcrowded.

PLANNING WINTER HIKES

A hiker in Winter with Camera

When planning a winter hike, you should never make the mistake of planning the route, altitude and time requirements in the same way as in summer – simply because the mastering of distances and altitude meters in winter requires much more effort and time.

At the same time, the days are also shorter, which means that you have less time available and thus less time buffer if you ever take the wrong path. This can happen quite quickly in winter when paths and signposts or footprints of predecessors are no longer recognizable due to fresh snow.

For this reason, you should always have a good headlamp in your luggage and – depending on the terrain – also a compass, a map or even a GPS device for hiking tours.

If you want to rely on your cell phone for orientation, you should have a power bank because the battery discharges much faster due to the cold. The same applies of course to camera & Co.

Thank You for Reading

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