Cold Weather Hiking Tips from KEEN HQ

We’re indulging in comfort food, spending shorter days with family and binge-watching TV shows, which must mean one thing: winter is in full swing. Here at KEEN HQ, we don’t let a little snow and rain stop us from going on outdoor adventures, and neither should you. We asked our people for their favorite cold weather tips and tricks, and we’ve rounded up the best for you.

Life lessons from Wisconsin
“Don’t drink a ton of liquids before you go to bed. Getting up to pee in the middle of the night is literally the worst. Also, always bring matches, because your lighter might freeze up. And cheese brine doesn’t work so well as a de-icer…I learned that the hard way.” – Stephanie Rankin, Category Marketing Specialist

DIY your own hot water bottle
“Boil water, put it in your water container and snuggle up with that thang in your mummy bag. Just make sure it’s BPA free. Oh, and bring two pairs of socks so you can dry one out by the fire when you sleep. The Double Sock Rotation is crucial.” – Colin McCarthy, Fit & Wear Specialist

Sometimes you have to make tough choices
“With regards to winter hiking, I aim for either wet and warm, or dry and cold. If it’s cold and wet, scrap it and hit the pub early.” – KEEN Ambassador Adam Sawyer, Professional Gentleman of Leisure. (Check out his guidebook that comes out this summer!)

Be mindful of what you eat and drink
“Drinking booze actually isn’t great for cold weather because it thins your blood. But a little whisky in some hot chocolate never hurt nobody. Also—and this is crucial—do not eat yellow snow.” – Jordan Carey, Footwear Developer

Spend your whole childhood in Chicago
“It doesn’t really get that cold. I’m from Chicago.” – Kenny Mackey, Product Analyst and Footwear Developer


Don’t skimp on the sleeping pad
“If I can’t get a good night’s sleep, the rest of my trip will be un-fun. I’m a weight weenie, but the pad is no place to cut corners when the temps drop, or you’ll be in for an extremely long, restless night. Also, wet boots need to be in the sleeping bag if it’s going to freeze overnight. Trying to ‘warm up’ your rock-hard boots by inserting your feet never works out well.” – Steve Wages, Email Wizard

Your body is a microwave oven
“I like to keep Clif Shot Bloks in my jacket’s inner pocket. That way when you eat them they don’t become hard and frozen!” – Mark Shimahara, Senior eCommerce Manager and 2015 Pie Eating Champion

Keep your hats and wits about you
“Drink water. Even if it’s cold and you’re not thirsty. Also, cider and whiskey are crucial to keep nearby. And wear a hat, always.” – Kirsten Blackburn, KEEN Effect‘s Iron Fist of Action

Nature’s towel warmer
“Always put your clothes for the next day in the bottom of your sleeping bag, so when it is time to put them on they are toasty warm. Also, bring a little bit of rope and/or a bungee with you on a backpacking trip. That way if your backpack strap and your shoelace break you can fix them on the fly.” – Mindy Hoffman, Merchandising Assistant

All photos courtesy of Adam Sawyer