We wanted to share with you some of the gear that helps us enjoy winter adventures. Proper gear is essential for being able to be safe and comfortable outside in Alaskan winters.
My hands-down top pick are my Kahtoola Microspikes. I used to not get out much in the winter because I wasn't able to go anywhere without slipping and sliding, I had some cheap little traction things but they didn't provide any traction. When a friend introduced me to microspikes I about choked on the price, $80! After a fall (that resulted in a visit to a doctor) I went and bought a pair (way cheaper than the previously mentioned doctor visit!!!). I now will happily buy a new pair every winter just to have fresh sharp ones! These allow me to safely and sure-footedly walk/run up and down hills/mountains. They also work amazing on slippery wet dirt, I used these on Lazy Mountain last fall before snow a couple of times and they where life savers. To go along with my spikes I also love my ankle gators. They keep any fresh snow from getting in the tops of my shoes and freezing my ankles. They also provide an amazing amount of warmth on cold winter days. I wear La Sportiva shoes all year long (amazing traction!) and just change out what kind of sock I wear based on the temperature. Keeping my feet safe and warm is my biggest priority when being out in winter.
I also love a lightweight down jacket or vest (depending on the temp, I usually switch to my jacket at around 20) and my Icelandic wool mittens when temps are in single digits or below 0. My best piece of advice is if you don't start out cold at the parking lot you are going to get too hot as you start working and sweat in the winter is something you want to avoid because it makes you wet and then cold.
Carly's top winter gear pick is a buff, and I'm not talking about her muscles! It was a cold day and her puppy dogs paws where cold. A buff is a multi-functional headwrap, basically a long tube of stretchy fabric open at both ends. She loves wearing one on her head to keep her ears warm and one on her neck. They allow heat to escape from the top of your head so you don't overheat when working up a sweat. The one on her neck can be pulled up over her chin and nose if needed for extra warmth. Her second top winter gear pick is warm wool socks (Darn Tuff and Smartwool brands are her favs). Both of these brands make socks that go up to just below the knee that provide amazing warmth on super cold days. She also loves her Speedspike CS Salomon running shoes, which are super comfortable and amazing for running on snow packed trails. These shoes have built-in studs so she doesn't have a need for a pair of spikes.
Another vital piece of gear we both depend on is a bright headlamp. It's dark before work and dark after work during our Alaskan winters.
Ella is enjoying some warm sunshine in Hawaii so we didn't get her top gear pick! But this is also an important Alaskan winter survival strategy!
Alaska is an amazing place to enjoy in all seasons, so get out and have an adventure!