Layers for Cold Weather Nordic Walking

When the weather outside is frightful it’s not time to stay indoors it’s time to pull out your winter layers. I’m not talking about putting on layers with chocolate and comfort foods altho that’s tempting but putting on layers of clothing for the conditions out there.

Nordic walking is an aerobic activity, you will warm up in the first 15 minutes so be careful about how much you put on. You don’t want to overheat during your time outdoors. Choose the weight of your layers based on the temperature and your comfort level. Our bodies all tolerate the cold differently and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Clothing designed and sold for cross country skiing or cold weather running are good choices for Nordic walkers.

A picture is worth a thousand words so let me try to make this simple. Please note that color coordination is not necessary for warmth but it does look good doesn’t it?


First layer keeps you dry. It’s designed to move the moisture away from your body. I always start with a wool “cami” but the the real layer is good fitting long sleeve top and bottom long underwear . Choose between wool or synthetic fabrics. Avoid cotton fabrics as they do not breathe, they just get wet.


Mid layer keeps you warm. So many choices-polar fleece, synthetics, wool and so many weights- light, mid, heavy but it also must breathe. Turtle neck tops with 1/4 zippers allow you to vent as you warm up. If it’s really cold consider a vest instead of another heavy layer.


This layer keeps the cold out. On top you don’t need a big puffy jacket or heavy snowpants, but you do need a windproof jacket and pants to keep the cold from getting in. A bit of stretch makes it easier to move, some people like having a hood,  a waterproof shell is a good option. Side leg zippers, insulation on the front of the legs and elastic waistbands are some of my favorite features on my pants.

Feet, hands and head

Wool socks and waterproof shoes for your feet. I have a pair of goretex trail shoes and a pair of insulated short hiking boots (also for snowshoeing) that I use in the cold weather. My toes always get cold so I make sure that my boots are warm and dry before I gear up.

light weight gloves or mittens
Windproof gloves are more important than heavy insulation.Keep the cold out and the warmth in just like a base layer. The grip and release of the pole grip will help to keep your hands warm.  If it’s really cold lobster mittens are warm and kinda fun to wear.

Head and eyes

Hats keep the warmth in, a lightweight hat will breathe and keep you from getting too warm. A warmer wool hat for cold days. A neck gaitor or face mask will protect your nose and cheeks from frostbite and will warm the air you’re breathing in. Don’t forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses, both from the reflection of winter sun on the snow and also from the cold.

Don’t let cold weather keep you inside. You’ll need to experiment with what you have in your closet to find the right combinations for you. Remember there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong choice of clothing.

Now it’s time to go out play in the cold and snow!

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2 Responses to Layers for Cold Weather Nordic Walking

  1. Carol Miletti says:

    I might need this advice on Hilton Head this winter

  2. Pam S. says:

    Thanks- still trekking in NJ with my Lekis

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