Cold weather is no reason to put away your hiking shoes. In fact, many avid hikers prefer late-autumn and winter excursions because the crowds are fewer and, with the leaves gone the views get better.

Here are some essentials you'll want to put in your backpack for a winter hike:

  • Sunscreen and a hat for sun protection.
  • Lots of water. You may not feel as thirsty as you do during hot-weather workouts, but your body still needs ample hydration.
  • A flashlight. Nightfall comes early this time of year.
  • One extra layer. If you stop for a short rest, you're going to feel the chill pretty quickly. Pack a lightweight vest or jacket that can roll up tight and not add too much bulk to your backpack.

Bonus Tip:

It's a good idea to own at least one pair of running pants or running tights as part of your gear. Because they're sleek and form-fitting, you can use them as a warming layer under pants without adding uncomfortable bulk. More importantly, they're made out of synthetic materials designed to wick sweat away from the body. Cotton long underwear, in contrast, absorbs moisture and keeps it next to your skin, which doesn't make for an enjoyable walking experience -- especially in cold temperatures.