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Essential Layers For A Himalayan Winter Trek


Trekking in winter is a notch up than in other seasons because of snowfall and low temperatures. And if you don’t want the winter blues to hit you, two things will make your winter trek successful: ample fitness and suitable clothing. If you are looking forward to a snow trek in winter, opt for December, January and February. But be sure you are prepared to enjoy the benefits of winter trek with blooms happening at lower reaches, carpets of whites laying till infinity on the high ends and snowflakes caressing you from time to time. This is a comprehensive guide for layers for a Himalayan Winter Trek

Questions that we are going to answer today.

  • Please name some winter treks based on difficulty.
  • How difficult is trekking going to be in winter?
  • Layers to wear on a Himalayan trek. Please classify them separately for day and night time
  • 6 Bonus tips for clothing in winter.

Some Winter Treks based on difficulty

How difficult is trekking in winter going to be? How cold can it get? 

Uncertainty is the fun factor in winters. You can not say anything about the weather in winter in the Himalayas, which means we have to play by nature’s rules.

Trekking in winter is manageable, but you can expect moderate difficulty due to temperature variations. On average, the temperature will fluctuate between -15 °C to 8 °C. This means you will be wearing just two-three layers during the day. You must protect yourself from the biting snow and cold at night. However, it will not be too cold when it snows or rains; the temperature will drop later. So, it is imperative to wrap your body in layers to avoid sickness.

You should keep at least five layers for any situation. 

Layers to Wear For A Himalayan Trek

  • Winter Cap: Made of wool to cover Head and Ear.
  • Balaclava: Made of Fleece or wool for the neck, nose and mouth
  • Sun cap: Don’t be tied up with a myth that the sun will never show during a winter trek. If the weather is clear, you will be in contact with the sun most of the time. 
  • Sunskin Cream: 50+ SPF
  • Sunglasses in snow: High-altitude UV-protected sunglasses are compulsory to avoid snow blindness and other problems. 
Upper Body Layers For winter himalayan Trek
  • Thermal (Layer 1, at night)
  • Base Layer (Layer 2) This layer is the thinnest and is preferably made of cotton to soak up your sweat.
  • Dri-fit collared full-sleeve T-shirt (Layer 3)
  • Fleece Jacket (Layer 4, at night)
  • Padded or Down Jacket (Layer 5) to avoid wind and water. 
  • Waterproof Hand-gloves: Preferably with a fleece liner.
  • Rain Wear/Poncho for snowfall or rain

  • Thermals (Layer 1, at night)
  • Hiking pants: Don’t confuse these with Track Pants, which soak up extra water and tear up easily. Choose durable, reliable, and easy-to-dry trek pants. You can keep track pants for night or as a backup. 
  • Rain Pant (Optional)
  • Polyester Socks 
  • Woollen Socks (at night)
  • Trekking Shoes
  • Microspikes and gaiters: We will provide you with these to attach to your shoes. Gaiters cover up your shoe opening, giving you protection from snow and helping you keep dry. Microspikes are essential for grip in snow. 

6 Bonus tips about trekking gear in winter

  1. Instead of just one thick layer, go for two layers.
  2. Go light since you will be carrying your weight throughout the trek. Say no to heavy items like woollen clothes.  
  3. Buy clothes with zipped pockets. This way, you won’t need extra pouches. You can carry your things and not keep hovering over the thought of losing some. 
  4. Track pants are different from trek pants. You can use track pants as a backup or at night. 
  5. For treks, choose synthetic over cotton or wool. Synthetic clothes have many benefits over natural fibre, like:
    1. Natural clothes retain moisture. Synthetic dries up quickly if it rains or snows.
    2. Stain resistant
    3. Durable
    4. Less expensive
    5. Can handle the heavy load without breaking or tearing off.
  6. Cover your head with a cap. When you start your trek, you will be jagged up with clothing. Some kilometres after, these layers will keep coming out due to intensive walking and heat. Don’t do this. Try to maintain your body at a constant temperature. Instead, start from just two or three layers and keep at it. 

Some Important Links to Other Guides

Let us know in the comments if you have any other doubts about layers for a Himalayan Winter trek; we will be back with an answer as soon as possible.

About the author

I am Supriya, a writer by passion and I have been following up with it from the past 12 years. Stamped initially as a Software Engineer, I switched to ‘All Things Travel’. I travel to find coherence in life and love stories. Admittingly craving local food, meandering through the alleys, and treasuring talks with elderlies, I prefer backpacking to connect with the roots of a place. Bylines include Tripoto, Plan the Unplanned, Women’s Web and Rough Guides. Know her better: supriyasahu.com
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