Winter Gear Guide

With the snow flying and the summer gear put away, it's time to get ready for the winter! We've compiled a list of gear that we recommend for your upcoming winter adventures. Check out the video to learn more about layering and why it's important for being comfortable outside this winter. We've also written a thorough explanation of each piece of gear below and why it's important for your adventure. Without further ado, here is your Winter Gear Guide!


Layering your clothing is extremely important, particularly in the winter, because it easily allows you to regulate your body temperature and keep you comfortable. When we talk about layers, there are generally three (or more) layers that we're referring too: Base layer, mid layer and outer layer. Below is a description of each of these layers and what to look for with them: 

Base layer

This is your next-to-skin layer. It helps regulate your body temperature by moving perspiration away from your skin. Keeping dry helps you maintain a cool body temperature in the summer and avoid hypothermia in the winter

Examples: A base layer can be anything from briefs and sports bras to long underwear sets (tops and bottoms) to tights and moisture-wicking shirts. It is also designed to fit snuggly up against the body to bring the sweat away from the skin. For cool conditions, thermal underwear is available in light-, mid- and expedition-weights. Choose the weight that best matches your activity and the temperature.

Mid Layer

This is the insulating layer that retains heat by trapping air close to your body. This layer fits right over the base layer and is generally a little loose, leaving room to move freely.

Examples: For high-energy activities such as cross-country skiing, cycling or running, choose lightweight fleece (Polartec 100 or Power Dry) to avoid overheating. For cold conditions, try thicker fleece such as Polartec 200 or 300.

Outer Layer

The shell or outer layer protects you from wind, rain or snow. Shells range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple windproof jackets. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape; virtually all are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to make water bead and roll off the fabric.

An outer shell is an important piece in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to feel cold. Furthermore, without proper ventilation, perspiration can't evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell.


Socks cushion feet, protect them from irritation and blisters, and keep them warm. For most activity, wool or synthetic socks are the way to go, since they’re lightweight, durable, and less likely to bunch up. Choosing sock fibers with a good wicking gradient will help trap and transfer moisture, which will keep feet nice and dry. Polypropylene or wool fibers do this best.


Hiking boots are, broadly speaking, more supportive and protective than hiking shoes. Sometimes they are simply higher-cut versions of hiking shoes, and sometimes they feature slightly stiffer construction, both of which will offer more support. The tradeoff, of course, is that hiking boots are going to be heavier than shoes. You might want to consider boots if you are: Heading out on longer hikes over rougher terrain carrying a moderately heavy load.


Wool hats are made from the fleece of sheep. It is a natural fiber and requires a higher attention to care than its acrylic counterpart. Although wool is generally more expensive than other materials, it's benefits are well worth the cost. Wool is water-resistant as well as moisture-wicking, which means the fiber breathes well and can eliminate perspiration. For people who are not allergic to animal fibers such as wool, the material can keep you toasty and feels extremely soft on the skin


Winter gloves and mittens are of course meant to, above all else, keep your hands warm. While mittens naturally offer more warmth than gloves by grouping your fingers together (think lots of people in a small, crowded room), the different forms of insulation used also have a major impact on warmth. If you're looking for a lightweight glove with outstanding resistance to extreme cold, take a look at goose down gloves. But if you suspect moisture could be a part of your outdoor experience, gloves or mittens with PrimaLoft insulation may be better suited for you.

Other Essential Items

The items listed below come straight from the Maine Huts & Trails packing list and will make your adventure more comfortable and enjoyable:

-Headlamp (generally at least 35 lumens in brightness)

-Synthetic or Down sleeping (Compressible at a rating of at least 40 degrees for the huts)

-Wicking Towel

-Personal Toiletries

-Trail Map

-Hut shoes (generally flip-flops or slippers)

-Waterproof Journal

-A Book to Read

With these items in your pack, you are sure to have a more pleasurable experience this winter with your adventures! For more outdoor tips and tricks, make sure to check back to the blog for updated content or to contact Lani Cochrane, the Recreation Program Manager, at (207) 265-2400 Ext. 130 to learn more.

Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the trails!