Winter is finally on its way out, and it’s time to look to the mountains for some spring activities! The days are getting long, the temperature is rising and we’re all itching to start bagging some peaks.
The major difference between winter hiking is of course the weather; if you haven’t already noticed the rain, you will soon enough! The thick parkas are out and the wet weather gear is back in! With the help of Sporting Life Canada, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite gear for this season!
The first thing you’re going to need to understand with Spring hiking is that during this season, Gore-tex is your best friend. Being waterproof and wind resistant is going to make you feel a lot more comfortable in the elements and there are a bunch of different options out there for you to choose from.
The other thing to bear in mind is layering; as we mentioned in our layering guide, layers are important in any season with unpredictable weather (….i.e. all seasons)
How many layers of Gore-Tex?
By the way, if you’re wondering what the difference between single, double or triple layered Gore-tex is, it’s really just an extra layer of durability for the garment. A triple layered Gore-Tex garment will probably last you forever, whereas the seams on a single layer might come apart significantly sooner.
Why would you choose fewer layers then? Well, not surprisingly, every additional layer of Gore-Tex adds a load to the price. If you’re using your item relatively infrequently then you can probably afford to skip the triple layering. If it’s going to take a real beating then you don’t want to be replacing it every couple of years; I’d recommend getting more layers.
If you’re looking for something truly waterproof, you’re also going to want to be looking for taped seams. Anything else has the potential to let unwanted moisture in.
With that in mind, here are some of our favourite garments to help you brave the elements this spring!
Shells are getting more and more advanced every year, and there are several features that you want to be on the look out for. It’s usually hard to find all features in the same jacket, but any features you can get will be a bonus!
- Breathability – Waterproofing is important, but you still want whatever you’re wearing to be breathable when you’re getting hot. This ideally means armpit and back vents; more if possible.
- Stuffability – When you get hot or when the rain stops, you want to be able to pack the jacket away as quickly ansd as easily as possible. Some brands sell their jackets with stuff sacs included, and this will come in seriously handy; especially if you’re doing something like climbing. Some brands are even starting to bring in built in fanny-packs, so that you can wear your jacket around your waist until you need it!
- Adjustable hood – This is always helpful if you’re doing an activity that requires a helmet, or if you’re wearing a cap that you don’t want to take off.
We’re big fans of the Arc’teryx line because of their amazing weatherproofing and their well fitted designs. We use them all the time and only have positive things to say about them! Below you can see us both wearing Arc’teryx Beta Jackets
Whichever shell you choose, make sure there’s plenty of room for layers underneath, it’s light, and it’s Gore-Tex’ed. You can find a wide selection of outer layers at Sportinglife.ca
Hiking Pants and Shorts
As it starts getting warmer, the weather is going to get a lot more unpredictable. You’re going to want some pants with an element of waterproofing, and with that, ideally, some windproofing as well.
If it’s a warm and not particularly windy day, you might opt for some pants without the weather proofing, as it reduces breathability. The photo above shows some Norrona Flex1 Falketind pants that aren’t weather proofed. They’re good for sunny, windless weather, but on a mild spring day like this I decided to wear an underlayer as well.
Wearing pants in the spring is also great protection from Ticks, which tend to come out just as the weather starts to warm up in May/June.
Some other great options are the following:
Men’s Hiking Pants
The Norrona Pants have some wind and water resistance, and just make sure that whatever you buy has some element of quick dry or water resistance.
Women’s hiking Pants/Shells
Louise also often opts for some bright tights that give her a lot more flexibility than traditional hiking pants (and they have a bit more personality!). She’s a big fan of the Nike Women’s Power Epic Lux Solstice Tight right now ($119)!
Boots and Gaiters
The other thing to bear in mind in this shoulder seasons is that the snow is starting to melt and it’s starting to get a bit wet/muddy underfoot. That’s wear having a good set of waterproof boots and gaiters come in handy!
Check out these Gaiters from Tubbs!
In terms of shoes, Louise and I both have our preferred brands. I’m a big fan of Merrells, and have been wearing their hiking boots for years. Louise loves Salomon and has been wearing their Women’s X Ultra Mid 2 Gtx® W Shoe recently.
What’s important is that your boot comes over your ankle, has some waterproofing. That way, if you do happen to posthole through some slush, the snow won’t go into your boot (even better if you’re wearing your gaiters). If you happen to walk through a small stream or a big puddle, you can also rest assured that your feet will stay dry.
Making sure the boot is breathable will ensure that you can still use the boot even during the hotter parts of the season.
These are what we’re wearing right now:
Check out the hiking boot selection at sportinglife.ca
These are great for keeping your core warm but keeping the rest of you cool when being active.
Check out some of these great options:
Those are the main large items of clothing we’d suggest bringing, but as the weather warms up you might also want to consider bringing hats and sunscreen to protect yourself from the elements. You can check out some of our other posts for more ideas about things to bring to the mountains.