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My Favorite Things for Winter Walking

Cold Weather Gear that Keeps You Moving


Updated May 31, 2014

I like warm woolen mittens, but they aren't my favorites for winter walking. I prefer non-scratchy microfleece. Here are my favorite things that I have to have handy when I'm going on a cool weather walk. You can add your favorite winter walking items.

1. Fleece Quarter Zip Top

L.L. Bean Comfort Fleece Quarter Zip
Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

I love cozy polyester microfleece just for lounging around in winter. But it is actually a performance fabric for insulating on cold days and wicking moisture away from your body. When it gets really cold, it is a great insulating layer when a vest isn't enough. Wear it over a baselayer top.

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2. Smartwool Socks

Smartwool Adrenaline Socks
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Smartwool takes most of the itch out of wool. Wool provides warmth, but it also has moisture management properties. The blend in Smartwool wicks moisture away and dries fast. This light hiker sock is perfect for winter walking. The arch base gives you increased support and comfort. The medium density sole padding cushions you.
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3. Fleece Mittens

REI Microfleece Mittens
Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber
I am amazed at how much my hands warm up once I get walking, except on the coldest and windiest days. A fleece mitten will keep your hands warm until you warm up. If the day is still cold, a fleece mitten that isn't windproof allows some air in to keep your hands from getting sweaty. If it is a brutally cold and windy day, you want a windproof mitten. Or, you can slip some newspaper or plastic wrap into the mitten to make it windproof.
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4. Buff or Polar Buff

Wendy Bumgardner ©
Buffs aren't just for Survivor contestants. You can wear this versatile seamless tube as a balaclava, a neck gaiter, beanie, etc. For winter, you can get a Polar Buff that has a band of microfleece at one end. You can position that wear you want the most warmth. I carry a Buff as an essential all winter because you can do so much with it.
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5. REI Woodland Fleece Vest

Courtesy of REI
When winter really settles in, you need an insulating layer that will let moisture out but keep warmth in. I like microfleece as it doesn't add as much bulk under my winter jacket. I also like having another set of pockets. This REI vest has a water-repellent coating, which is handy if you wear it without an outer jacket.
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6. Fleece Cap with Bill

L.L. Bean Wind Challenger Fleece Baseball Cap
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
When the temperature falls below 40F, I like to switch to a microfleece hat. It has to have ear coverings, as my ears get very cold. But, again, I want to avoid the hunting hat look. I like having a bill to keep the sun and rain out of my eyes while walking. The microfleece insulates yet is breathable so moisture is wicked away from your head. This is my favorite fleece winter hat.
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7. Grabber Hand Warmers

Grabber Hand Warmers
Wendy Bumgardner ©

Your fingers can get pretty cold before your walk warms you up. But use these little single-use packets to provide hours of warmth. You can carry it in your hand or keep it in a pocket.

8. Glo Glov

Glo Glov reflective safety gloves
Wendy Bumgardner ©

These gloves can save your life. If your walk takes you across intersections at night, these gloves have 360 degree high-reflective visibility. I even show the stopped cars my palm where there is a bright triangle. They have open fingers so you can wear them over other gloves, or even wear in warmer weather without too much sweat.

9. Stabilicers

Stabilicers Sports
Wendy Bumgardner ©
Stabilicers are slip-on cleats for your shoes or boots. I keep a pair of these in my car throughout the winter for those times I have to trek on icy or snowy sidewalks. They slip on over your shoes or boots and slip off once you are safely inside. I think of these as emergency equipment rather than using them for fitness walking. If it's icy -- walk inside instead!

10. Leki Trekking Poles

Wendy with Leki Trekking Poles at Lake Bachalpsee Switzerland
Wendy Bumgardner © 2005

If the walk is going to have snow, ice, or mud I like to put on my own 4-wheel drive by using trekking poles. My pair of Leki Trail Trekking poles have served me well. They telescope so I can carry or store them easily. They fit into my checked luggage with no concern from TSA when traveling to a snowier climate.

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