What to Wear Hiking in 40 Degree Weather

What to Wear Hiking in 40 Degree Weather

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Wondering what to wear hiking in 40 degree weather? This is the question that new hikers tend to ask because, for them, hiking during the summer is fun, but the climate is just too hot.

During a summer hike, you wear thin clothes, and sometimes, you just wear a single layer of clothing just to make sure that the sun won’t burn your skin when you are out in the open. In a 40-degree hike, you need more layers of clothes because the temperature will go down to a couple of degrees once you are at the top of the mountain.

For that reason, you need to be prepared, and you have to know what to wear when you are hiking in cold weather. Luckily for you, we’ve got that covered. Here, we will give you some simple tips on the best outfit to wear on a cold hike.

What to Wear Hiking in 40 Degree Weather

Hiking during the cold season is exciting, challenging, and dangerous at the same time. Well, risks are part of hiking no matter what season you plan to do it. You just have to be prepared for the possible things that you will experience once you get there. Your clothes and gears are important things to prepare.

Here are some of the clothing suggestions and tips that you can follow if you are going to hike during cold weather.

Several Layers of Clothes (Upper Body)

This is a must! It’s great that you have a thick jacket with you, but simply wearing a shirt or a sweater underneath that jacket won’t protect you from the cold. It may seem like the weather is tolerable while you are still at the lowest part of the mountain, but while you are going up, the temperature will start to drop.

A 40-degree weather may seem tolerable, but when the wind hits you, the cold will seep through your thin clothes. The temperature in the mountain is no joke, especially during the winter. It can literally cause frost bites, so you better have several layers of clothes on you.

It is quite uncomfortable to wear layered clothes, but it provides benefits when you are hiking in cold weather. It will keep you warm when you are resting, keep the cold from seeping through your clothes, and prevent hypothermia.

There is also a trick when it comes to layering your clothes. When you are moving, your body heats up even if you are in a cold place. If you are wearing five layers of clothes, you can take out one or two of them when you are walking. You have to make sure that you won’t perspire while wearing these layers of clothes. If the clothes get damp or wet, their insulation value will go down significantly.

When you are resting, take a couple of minutes of rest before wearing the other two or three clothes that you removed. Your body will start to cool down when you are resting so the temperature will increase once again.

The number of clothes that you can wear depends on the temperature of the hiking location. If it is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can go with the main layers of clothes.

Base Layer. This is the first layer, and it is the clothing that would be in contact directly with your skin. Basically, you need something that would fit properly, but make sure that it will not be too tight or too loose. Never use cotton for the base layer because it can hold water, and it will lose its insulation when it is wet with perspiration. The best choice is moisture-wicking polyester or wool as they can keep you warm and dry even when they get wet.

Mid Layer. The mid-layer would be the clothes that you are going to wear following the base layer. You can just wear a loose shirt, or you can go with a sweater that is not too thick.

Insulating Layer. The insulation layer is the one that you usually take off when you start moving, and it is the part that you put on when you are resting. You can go with a jacket that has a zipper so that you can easily remove and wear it. For this kind of clothing, you need to choose the wicking fabrics as well, and it should be a bit thicker compared to the primary layers.

Weatherproof Layer. If you can afford the best quality jackets in the market, go for it. They can provide you the protection that you need. If you are on a budget, you can look for a waterproof and windproof jacket. This will be the last layer of your clothing, and it should have a zipper that you can zip open.

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Few Layers of Clothes for the Lower Body

If you think that your lower body will heat up along with your upper body, you are making a mistake. If you only wear one layer of clothing in your lower body, you may have a hard time moving because of the cold.

Basically, you don’t need many layers for your lower body because putting in several can affect your movement, especially on steep slopes or when you are climbing rocks. You need to have at least two or three layers of pants. The first one would be the base layer. Just like the one for your upper body, it should stick close to your skin so it won’t hinder your movement.

The last layer would be a weatherproof layer. This will serve as your protection from the wind. If you are resting and you need more heat for your lower body, you can bring pants that you can wear after the base layer. You just need to remove them if you are going to continue the hike.

Check your movement, and if something is bothering you because of the multiple layers of pants that you are wearing, feel free to remove one layer.

Hiking Boots

Your hiking boots will make a significant difference, so make sure that you choose wisely. Your feet will be handling all the weight of your body so you need hiking boots that can provide the cushion and support that the feet need.

Here are some of the things that your hiking boots should have:

Perfect fit. It has to fit you perfectly, or you will have to deal with a lot of ankle problems while you are hiking. Boots that are too big can cause callouses and blisters at the back of your ankle.

It should be made from waterproof materials. If the weather is 40 degrees Fahrenheit when you are still at the lower part of the mountain, you might expect snow or wet road while walking up. Your hiking boots should be waterproof so the moist won’t enter your shoes.

Liners should be removable. Do you have sweaty feet? Did you accidentally spill water in your shoes or made a wrong step and your feet got soaked in a swamp? These things can happen while hiking. For this, make sure that the liners are removable so that you can dry them up once you’ve reached the campsite.

Insulation. You need to look for hiking boots with proper insulation. Your feet will start hurting if it is exposed to cold temperature and you don’t want that to happen. You will drag the whole hiking team, and there is even a chance that you will have to go back down for a rest. You have to make sure that your feet are well-insulated.

Don’t be in a rush to buy hiking boots. If you don’t pay attention to its features, you might encounter a lot of problems while hiking. Take your time and make sure that you know how to determine if hiking boots are too big for your feet. Buy shoes that would fit perfectly so that you can have a comfortable hike.

A Winter Hat

You can’t just buy any hat. If the place you are going to is very cold, you should get a winter hat ready. It may not be too cold at the bottom, but once you are up in the mountain, the temperature will drop really low.

Heat may go out at the top of your head, so make sure that you put on a winter hat to trap the heat and keep your body warm throughout the journey. The hat can also protect your ears from the cold, so it is a must. You don’t have to wear them all the time.


For gloves, you need to wear at least two layers. It is very easy to get frostbites when the weather suddenly turns very cold, which is why you need to protect your hands. You should first wear lightweight fleece gloves. It will serve as the base layer. Follow this up with a waterproof shell glove.

Always bring extra gloves with you in case the pair you are using gets wet. Also, getting extras will help keep your hands warm if the team will stay the night in the mountain. It will be much colder at night, and you need all the heat you can get.

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Important Things to Bring on a Cold Hike

When you are preparing for a cold hike, you do not simply focus on what you are going to wear. Instead, you also need to bring other things that can help you throughout the journey.

Bring a headlamp. You might expect longer night hours during the journey, so you have to bring a headlamp for lighting. Don’t bring anything that is too big, though. There are small headlamps available in the market, or you can bring a flashlight with you.

Extra Batteries. If you bring flashlights or headlamps with you, then you also need extra batteries. Setting up fire can be a good idea, but when you are walking, and it is dark, you need flashlights and headlamps. Make sure that you are prepared in case they run out of power.

Bring hand and toe warmer packets. This is one of the most important things to bring on your trip. They are not heavy, and they provide the heat that you need during the hike. You need to at least have a few them in your bag.

Bring basic necessities. You need food and water, and of course, you need sleeping bags if you are going to stay at least one night in the mountain. Never forget water and keep yourself hydrated throughout the journey. Even if you are not thirsty, try and drink a few mouthfuls of water every now and then.

These are only a few of the things that you have to bring with you, and they are all necessary. You need to bring all of them on your hike. It is better if you can avoid wearing anything tight on your wrists as well.

Final Words

If you are thinking of what to wear hiking in 40 degree weather, you need to know what you are going to deal with once you are up in the mountain. Hiking is fun and exciting, but there are risks involved, especially if you are doing it in cold weather.

You should know that 40 degrees Fahrenheit is already cold. If that is the temperature at the bottom of the mountain, it will be much colder at the top. You need to be very meticulous of the clothes that you are going to wear, and the tips that we mentioned above will guarantee that you are prepared.

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Clara Ludvigsen - June 29, 2020

I typically wear a base layer for warmth and use my pants as an outer shell and look for the same three factors – they must allow for free movement, they’re typically weatherproof and durable. If it’s not too cold (anything between 45-60 degrees Fahrenheit), I may wear compression pants and shorts unless we know the trail will be muddy or we have several stream crossings.

    Up In The Mountain - July 26, 2020

    Makes a lot of sense Clara – Thanks for your comment!

    hiking girl - November 3, 2020

    Lot of good material here keep up the good work

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