Women’s Gear Guide for Cold-Weather Trekking

Sharael Kolberg
7 min readDec 20, 2022

Cold-weather trekking can be a rewarding and exhilarating experience, but it also requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Whether you’re planning a day hike in the mountains or a multi-day backpacking trip, having the correct gear is essential when trekking, especially in cold weather. Now is the perfect time of year to stock up on some must-have items, whether you’re planning on an outing this winter or heading to the Southern hemisphere during the summer (their winter).

I recently returned from a multi-day trek in Patagonia, where the temperatures ranged from about 20 to 50 degrees farenheit, with snow, wind, mud, and water crossings. Having the right gear to fit the temperatures and terrain can make the difference between being miserable or comfortable.

One of the most important things to consider when trekking in cold weather is what to wear. Layering is key to staying warm and comfortable in cold weather, as it allows you to adjust your clothing to accommodate changes in temperature and activity level. Start with a base layer made of moisture-wicking material, such as synthetic fabrics or merino wool, to help keep your skin dry and warm. Add a mid-layer for insulation, such as a fleece or down jacket, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer to protect against the elements. Don’t forget to bring a hat, gloves, and warm socks, as well as gaiters or waterproof boots to keep your feet dry.

Here is my gear list to use as a reference for your own trekking or hiking adventure. Full disclosure, REI sponsored me by providing some clothing and accessories. Prior to my trip, I had not worn much REI gear, but I loved everything they sent me. As a woman, I liked that the clothes were technical, but also stylish.

Base Layers

REI Co-op Merino 185 Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top — Women’s

REI Co-op Merino 185 Base Layer Bottoms — Women’s

I lived in my base layers every day! The ultrafine 185 g merino wool tops and bottoms (made with UPF 30 sun protection) were key to keeping me warm and dry (without being itchy). Merino wool naturally breathes, wicks away sweat, dries quickly, is soft, and naturally odor resistant. It was made in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory, which promotes safe working conditions and sustainable livelihood, using wool certified to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), which requires that sheep are treated in accordance with leading animal welfare standards.

Hiking Pants

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants

These quick-drying pants easily convert from pants to shorts with a quick zip. I liked the side pockets for easy access to snacks or a phone. They UPF 50+ fabric is made from 96% stretch recycled nylon and 4% spandex, with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating that sloughs off moisture, while lightweight nylon dries fast if it does get wet.

Topo Designs Lightweight Tech Pant

I loved these pants! Not only do they come in fun colors (brick and juniper), but these eco-friendly, air jet-dyed, Lightweight Tech Pants have 4-way stretch for comfort and a durable water repellent (DWR) coating.

Duluth Tradig Co: AKHG Olympic Coast 2.5L Rain Pant

With 15K waterproofing and 15K breathability, these fully seam-sealed, super lightweight 2.5-layer rain pants were a lifesaver, especially when hiking across rivers and up waterfalls. They kept me dry and comfortable. The fully adjustable elastic waistband was perfect for my athletic endeavors.

Other pants options:


REI Co-op Hyperaxis Fleece Jacket 2.0 — Women’s

This zipper, hooded fleece jacket is tough on the outside, cozy on the inside and stretchy all over. It’s made with Polartec Power Stretch® Pro™ fleece that gives 4-way stretch and breathability, plus it wicks away moisture and dries quickly. The Lycra® spandex binding at the cuffs, hem and hood provides a secure but flexible fit. With bluesign®-approved materials, you can feel good knowing it was made to conserve resources and protect the health of the environment, workers and wearer. I love the red clay color. Another fleece jacket option is the Topo Design Subalpine Fleece.

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket — Women’s

This windproof, waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX shell is durable and lightweight. The Amaranth Coral color looks great in photos!

Other Waterproof Jackets:

Hiking Socks

REI Co-op COOLMAX Eco Socks

Keeping your feet dry, warm and blister free is one of the most important things you can do. These lightweight hiking crew socks are made with polyester yarn in COOLMAX® EcoMade fabric from recycled water bottles. They are stretchy, durable, cushioned, wick sweat and breathe, with reinforced heels and toes, seamless toe construction and are made in the USA.

Hiking Boots

REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots — Women’s

These boots are waterproof (great for crossing streams!), breathable, lightweight, and strong with sock-like FirmaKnit™ uppers made from 99% recycled PET polyester. The TerraGrip™ tread (made from 20% recycled rubber) will keep you sturdy on the trail; the TerraLoft™ midsoles use 10% algae-based BLOOM™ foam to cradle your feet; the TrailBed™ insoles use Insite® Contoura® technology to ensure support and comfort; the molded nylon mid-foot shanks protect your feet from the bumps in the trail; the extra space in the toe boxes comes in handy if your feet swell. I also really love the women’s Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes, which are a little less cumbersome and lighter weight than hiking boots.


REI Co-op Polartex Wind Pro Fleece Gloves 2.0

Keep your fingers toasty with these fleece gloves that are durable and cozy whether hiking, skiing or snowshoeing. The Polartec® Wind Pro® hardface fleece is highly wind resistant and water repellent, but still breathes for comfort. Conductive material at tips of thumbs and index fingers lets you use touch screens without removing your gloves. Synthetic suede palms stand up to the abrasion of trekking and ski poles. Clip them together so you don’t lose one! I was so glad I had these on my trip.

Hydration Pack

REI Co-op Link 10 L Hydration Pack

It’s important to stay hydrated, even in cold weather. Take regular breaks to drink water. Although this is a “cycling” pack, I loved the size and it had just the right amount of pockets. I swapped out the small bladder for a larger one.

Other 5–15 Liter Day Packs:


Sweet Protection Ronin RIG® Reflect

To protect your eyes from the sun, wind and branches, be sure to pack proper sunglasses. I wore these glasses and loved how they stayed in place, kept me from squinting and looked cool! With 100% UV protection, the RIG® lens technology is developed by Sweet Protection to provide superior contrast, minimum color distortion and reduced eye fatigue; the TR90 Polyamid frame is durable, fatigue resistant and lightweight; and the TPR co-molded soft and grippy inserts on the temples provide extra comfort and safety. I also like the Almost Ablaze Sunglasses by Teton Gravity Research with polarized lenses by Carl Zeiss.

Trekking Poles

REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles — Pair

Keep your balance on the trail with a pair of trekking poles. These are light, strong and adjustable with natural cork grips and padded wrist straps for maximum comfort.

With the right preparation and planning, cold-weather trekking can be a truly rewarding and memorable experience. By dressing appropriately, staying hydrated and nourished, and being mindful of safety, you can enjoy the beauty and challenge of the great outdoors in the colder months.