Peakbagging is the oldest and most elemental of all hiking pursuits. Best defined as an insatiable desire to climb a list of mountains, it’s certainly one of the toughest forms of hiking requiring physical fitness, mental toughness, and dogged persistence. Many peakbaggers hike year-round including winter, following hiking trails, driving down logging roads to remote trailheads, pulling sleds of gear on skis into Wilderness areas, or bushwhacking to peaks along border swaths between the United States and Canada. Whether you high point, climb the Colorado fourteeners, the Adirondack 46, the New Hampshire 4000 footers, or some other club list, this gift guide is for you!
1. Kestrel 1000 Wind Meter
Kestrel Instruments makes the best hand-held weather instruments today. With the Kestrel 1000 Wind Meter, you can take the guesswork out of the wind speed and wind chill calculations that are so important in mountain ascents (and bragging rights at the pub afterward.) The 1000 Wind Meter is an accurate, rugged handheld wind /airflow meter with a large, replaceable impeller that measures and displays the maximum current and average wind speed in m/s, ft/min, km/h, and mph, on a large, clear LCD. It is patented, waterproof (IP-67), floats, and drop-tested to military standards (MIL-STD-810G).
The Garmin inReach Mini 2 is a pocket-sized satellite messenger that can send an SOS message to Search and Rescue in an emergency when you’re out of cell phone range. It can also send email messages and text messages to friends and family, whenever you want to update them or share your GPS coordinates. It has an easy-to-use push-button interface but can also pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth to display GPS maps and navigational information. Weighing just 3.5 oz, it’s small enough to tuck into your pants pocket.
It’s not uncommon to come across bears and other wild animals when peak bagging mountains that are infrequently climbed. That’s when you want to have your bear spray easily at hand. The most popular bear spray sleeve used by hikers and other wilderness adventurers is the Mystery Ranch Bear Spray Holster. The great thing about this holster is that you can shoot the bear spray from your hip without having to remove it from the holster. Those extra seconds of speed…
GaiaGPS is the most popular GPS navigation app in use today. It’s sold on a renewable annual license and makes a nice gift because the price has gone up in recent years. Smartphone GPS navigation maps are used widely by peak baggers and one of the reasons peak bagging has grown so much in recent years is the availability of high-quality maps inside GPS Navigation apps.
Wiggy’s Waders are lightweight waders that slip over your shoes and attach to your belt so they don’t fall down. Thigh high, they are made from urethane-coated ripstop nylon, fully seam-taped, with a rubberized sole. They’re invaluable for cold weather stream crossings when you can’t get your shoes or boots wet. If you do hole them, they’re also really easy to patch with shoe goo.
The Suunto M3-D is a declination adjustable compass and easy to use in the field or to learn how to use a compass with. When peakbagging, it always pays to have more than one way to navigate and a compass is a fast and lightweight way to doublecheck your direction, even if you use a GPS navigation app most of the time. Compasses are particularly valuable when hiking off-trail because you can glance at them briefly when following a bearing without falling flat on your face. Don’t know how to use a compass? Take a compass navigation class at REI – this actually makes a great gift bundle.
Gorilla Grip Gloves are ideal when you need a lightweight, durable, and high-dexterity glove to protect your hands if you have to hike off-trail. They’re even good for home projects like working on your car or truck.
Peakbagging hikes can turn into all-night marches if you don’t control your enthusiasm. Regardless, it’s a good idea to carry a bright headlamp with a large battery to light your way. The Nitecore NU 33 is a very bright 700-lumen rechargeable headlamp with a larger-than-average 6.6Whr (2000 mAh) lithium-ion battery for long-lasting power. It has four brightness levels, a primary CREE spotlight, and auxiliary LEDs for flood, closeup, and red lighting modes with a tilt adjustment making it ideal for night hiking, trail running, cycling, and camping. The NU 33 has a built-in power indicator and lock to prevent accidental activation, it is water-resistant to 2 meters and includes a USB-C cable for recharging.
The SOL Escape Lite Bivy only weighs 5.5 oz and is durable enough that you can use it multiple times (unlike most space blankets) as a sleeping bag cover in addition to emergency use by itself. Lined with foil, it is waterproof and windproof. It reflects 90% of your body heat and is best coupled with a foam sleeping pad to provide insulation from the ground. It’s added weight to carry, but if you or your companions ever need a reflective bivy, you’ll be glad you have it in your pack.
Some winter adventures require a lot of gear, and rather than carrying it, some people drag it into the backcountry on a pulk. Made by SkiPulk, the Paris Pulk is vacuum molded from 1/8″ high-density polyethylene. Its signature orange color is easy to find in a whiteout. Its wide rims provide torsional rigidity and its design has proven to be effective in hundreds of expeditions and trips from the South Pole to the Canadian Rockies. Each Paris Pulk includes the base sled, secure straps, full-length poles, and channel kit (the channel kit includes the aluminum channels and backing plates, stainless steel nuts, bolts, and washers as well as the nickel-plated wirelock pins used to attach our poles to a sled). Wearable harnesses are sold separately.
MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes are virtually indestructible backcountrysnowshoes with single-piece plastic decks that can withstand serious abuse both on-trail and off. They have aggressive steel toe crampons and side rails for side hilling with a reliable and battle-tested binding system that can be used with gloves and is easy to field repair.
Outdoor Research’s Crocodile Gaiters are hands down the most popular high gaiters available today and with good reason, because they are nearly indestructible. and tough as nails. Their waterproof/breathable Gore-tex uppers will keep your legs dry and warm when plowing off-trail through the backcountry or down winter trails. Heavy-duty velcro front closures provide a secure and adjustable fit while hooks at the bottom assure compatibility with many kinds of boots.
13. Outdoor Research Sombiolet Wide Brimmed Sun Hat
protect yourself from the sun at high elevations. with the UPF 50+ Sombiolet Sun Hat from Outdoor Research. This crushable hat has an adjustable drawstring so it won’t fly off in the wind, with a 3″ brim to protect your neck and face from sunburn. It’s made with a lightweight, breathable, water-resistant, and quick-drying fabric with strategically placed vents and wicking fabric in the crown to keep you cool and dry. Unisex.
Outdoor Research’s Active Ice Sun Gloves (UPF 50+) are designed to protect your hands from sunburn when hiking in higher altitudes or desert conditions. The half-finger design makes it easy to grip technical tools while still protecting the back of your hands from the sun. The Active Ice treatment which uses a sugar derivative dynamically adjusts to your body’s temperature to cool you faster when you need it most.
Brynje Wool Mesh Thermo Long Underwear has an open mesh-style weave that traps warm air under a mid-layer. Perspiration is very efficiently wicked from your skin to your next layer, keeping you drier and more comfortable. When it gets really cold on long winter peak bagging hikes, these are the long johns you want to be wearing! This is especially useful for start-and-stop snow sports where effective moisture management is a top priority. They’re also available in synthetic fabric.
Darn Tough’s Micro-Crew Wool Socks are hands-down the most popular hiking socks used by hard-core hikers because they’re both comfortable and indestructible. Made with Merino Wool, they resist body odors and naturally move foot perspiration away from the feet to prevent blisters. They even come with a guarantee, that if you can wear them out, Darn Tough will replace them for free! Price:
All peak baggers need a pair of very warm winter mittens. These Outdoor Research Alti II Gore-tex Mittens fit that bill to a T! While they come with synthetic mitten liners, you can just as easily wear them with fleece gloves inside so you have more dexterity. I carry several pairs and swap them out during the day when they get damp from perspiration. These mittens have wrist gauntlets, idiot cords so they don’t blow away and leather palms. They also last forever. I still use my Alti I Mitts and they’re over 10 years old.
You don’t want to get stuck in snow or mud when peakbagging mountains off the beaten track! It happens. The best way to get unstuck is with traction boards. Maxtrax is one of the original makers of traction boards and its models are among the best for off-roading or deep snow use. This version uses a system of softer cleats on the bottom to help hold to the ground while the topside offers traction for your tire.
Luno makes luxurious inflatable air mattresses for cars, trucks, and vans so you can sleep at a trailhead in comfort before a big hike. Sized for each vehicle make and model, they inflate quickly and pack away compactly. Luno also sells insect screens to cover your vehicle’s windows for warm-weather car camping. True, you can pitch a tent. But sleeping in your car or truck is so much more convenient!
The YETI Roadie 24 Cooler can hold us to 33 cans of beer or 26 pounds of ice and fits into the wheel well behind your driver’s seat or passenger’s seat. It’s perfect for hauling a six-pack or two to share with your hiking buddies after a long day of peakbagging adventures. And it’s even tall enough to hold a bottle of chilled white wine if your buddies don’t like beer. If you need it to be cool at the end of a hike, you can count on YETI
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About the author
Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 8500 miles in the United States and the UK and written over 3000 articles as the founder of SectionHiker.com, noted for its backpacking gear reviews and hiking FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine hiking and backpacking, Philip has hiked all 650+ trails in the White Mountains twice and has completed 9 rounds of the 48 peaks on the White Mountains 4000 footer list with over 510 summits in all four seasons. He is also the author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free online guidebook of the best backpacking trips in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire. Click here to subscribe to the SectionHiker newsletter.