Winter is a great time to gear up and get out for some cold-weather hiking, mountaineering, or snowshoeing adventures. The bugs are gone and so are the crowds, leaving the mountains and the hills to those who can’t live without their weekly dose of sun and snow. Here are expert 20 gift suggestions for the winter hiker and backpacker in your life.
1. Atlas Helium MTN Snowshoes
The Atlas Helium MTN is a lightweight, tear-drop-shaped snowshoe that has a wrap-around binding, aggressive traction, and a heel bar that makes it easier to climb hills. A Boa binding locks the front of your winter boots in place and while a rear strap keeps them properly positioned. A spring-loaded suspension system lets your foot rotate naturally with slope changes for maximum efficiency. An aggressive toe crampon and dual-side traction rails provide excellent traction on snow and ice. But the best feature of these snowshoes is the weight, which is surprisingly low for such a full-featured snowshoe.
The Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody is a highly breathable and lightweight softshell jacket that excels as a wind shirt and protective garment against light precipitation. Ideally suited for cold-weather pursuits, it provides excellent breathability without the weight of a heavier technical shell. Made with Schoeller stretch-woven fabric, it’s perfect for dynamic activities such as winter hiking, mountaineering, ice climbing, or XC skiing you want a highly breathable wind layer with an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, stretch cuffs, and zippered chest pocket. Available for men and women.
The Biolite Headlamp 800 Pro is a powerful rechargeable headlamp capable of throwing out a maximum of 800 lumens with a maximum 150-hour burn time, making it ideal for long-range activities like mountaineering, winter hiking, or backcountry skiing when you need hours of continuous performance. It has a massive 3000 mAh USB rechargeable battery, an electronic lock, and red light mode for long-lasting power and maximum flexibility. Its slim-fit construction sits flush on your forehead or attached to a helmet without bouncing or slipping. It can also be run directly from a USB battery (not included), even in extreme cold (-20°C). That’s a rare but very valuable feature for cold weather use.
The MSR Reactor Stove System (stove and pot) is a powerful, windproof canister stove favored by climbers and mountaineers for its fast and efficient snow-melting prowess. Its burner features 2 modes of heat transfer, convective and radiant, to generate maximum heat output and boil 1 liter of water in about 3 minutes. The integrated 1.7 pot has a heat exchanger fused to the bottom and completely encloses the radiant burner, blocking even the most extreme winds while maximizing efficiency, so you need to carry less fuel.
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.
Dachstein Extreme Warm Wool Mittens are very warm boiled wool mittens made in Austria that are popular with mountaineers. Made from very dense boiled wool, they’re windproof and virtually waterproof because they’re so dense. When the mercury drops to near zero or below, these are the mittens you want to be wearing. They’re also ideal for people who get very cold hands in winter or who suffer from Raynaud’s Disease. They’re not itchy at all and can be worn alone or with an outer shell mitt in extreme winter weather.
7. Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Sleeping Pad
The Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Extreme Sleeping Pad is a High R_value (R+6.2) winter sleeping pad suitable for winter camping and backpacking. It’s extremely comfortable with a full 4″ of insulation and dimples which mimic the air-sprung action of a spring mattress. The Extreme includes an inflation sack and is covered with a thick 40d/30d cover for enhanced durability and protection. Men’s and Women’s models are available.
The NEMO Sonic 0 degree down sleeping bag is a spacious cold-weather sleeping bag that can be comfortably used by back or side sleepers. Tricked out with top-of-the-line features such as a taped zipper, zipper draft tubes, and a large draft collar, the Sonic 0 has innovative Thermo-Gills that let you adjust the warmth of the bag without cracking open the zipper and introducing cold drafts. The Sonic 0 is also available in a -20 degree version.
The outerU faceGlove is an ingenious face mask that prevents frostbite on your nose and cheeks while helping to eliminate ski mask fogging. It’s perfect for winter hiking or skiing and covers your nose and upper cheeks, which are the most sensitive to sun and wind damage. OuterU is a cottage manufacturer located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where the faceGlove was developed and is manufactured.
In winter, you need to insulate your water to prevent it from freezing. These Forty Below Neoprene Bottle Boot insulation sleeves are designed to work with 1L wide-mouth Nalgene bottles and can be attached to a backpack hip belt in order to keep your water within easy reach. These Bottle Boots are a favorite with winter hikers and high-altitude mountaineers.
Outdoor Research’s Prevail Heated Gore-tex Mittens are designed for people who get cold hands or need extra warmth on extreme winter adventures. With three heat settings, you can customize the level of warmth to fit your needs; the low setting provides 8 hours of warmth, the medium setting lasts for 5 hours, and the high setting lasts for 2.5 hours. The mittens are lined with synthetic insulation and have a waterproof and windproof Gore-tex insert that protects your hands from the elements. Note: Do not use this heated glove in conjunction with avalanche beacons.
The NEMO Switchback is a folding closed-cell foam pad that you can sit on to rest or lay on if you’re injured and waiting for help to arrive. It has a high enough R-value to prevent the cold ground from robbing your body’s warmth and causing hypothermia. Many hikers strap them to the outside of their backpack, especially in cold weather, because it’s considered a wilderness first aid essential to insulate a patient from the cold ground.
Quite possibly the lightest ice ax in the world, the CAMP USA Corsa excels at ski mountaineering, adventure racing, and low-angle glacier travel. Built from 7075-series aluminum for dependable service and minimum weight, Corsa is hardly noticeable when packed. A hot-forged, aluminum head delivers a solid bite, and the rear adze adds chopping power.
Outdoor Research’s Crocodile Gaiters are hands down the most popular winter gaiters available today and with good reason, because they are nearly indestructible. and tough as nails for winter hiking and snowshoeing. Their waterproof/breathable Gore-tex uppers will keep your legs dry and warm when plowing through snowdrifts and 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.
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.
The Polar Buff can be worn as a helmet liner, balaclava, mask, scarf, hood, or hat to give you warmth where you need it when you need it. One side is covered with an original Buff while the other is covered with a layer of Polartec fleece to help minimize heat loss. Super warm and comfortable, the value of this item is its versatility in winter conditions.
Weighing just 10.6 oz, the Feathered Friends EOS Hooded Down Jacket excels at keeping you warm on its own when conditions call for moving light and fast. Filled with premium 900+ fill power down, Feathered Friends’ down clothing and sleeping bags are prized by hikers and backpackers around the world. A women’s model is available.
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. 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.
The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra is a necessity for added traction when you’re out hiking on local trails or deep in the backcountry. Their heat-treated carbon steel spikes are strong and durable providing years of use. The elastomer harness ensures compatibility with most shoes and boots and makes the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras easy to get on and off.
Darn Tough’s Over-the-Calf Mountaineering Socks are seriously warm. They have a streamlined performance fit (which means they won’t fall down) that is chock full of merino wool for superior wicking and all-day warmth. Guaranteed for life, Darn Tough will replace them if you ever wear them out!
SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
Philip, two things. When your site launches and affiliate link it should be in another window. I like to keep Section Hiker open rather than navigate away from it.
The Outeru site is broken. I tried to use your affiliate link to order 4 pieces and got to the Place Order page where the site just hung up. After waiting 4 hours for it to load a working order button I gave up.
Personally I find launching another window to be most annoying, especially on a phone because then you can never find the one you want. Just hit the back arrow and you’ll get back to the SectionHiker page.
The outerU link was working the other day. Their site just loads really slowly. I’m not comped on orders I send there. In fact, I’m not comped on many links on my website. I care more about promoting small manufacturers who have great products than turning everything into a financial transaction.
That site works – I just put 4 items into a shopping cart.
\Yes, but you will be unable to check out, Did you notice if the Place Order button was gray or solid?
I’ll reach out to the owner – this is a popular item in the Whites.
I’m surprised to see an upright canister stove on this list. Does the fuel pressure regulator allow it to work well in temps around zero F.?
No, but you can get a reliable burn down to 20, and even lower if you put the canister in a bowl of warm water or hang it from the ceiling inside a tent heated by body heat, provided you have enough ventilation to prevent asphyxiation. Winter climbers and mountaineers love this stove, but like all equipment, you have to know how to use it.
#1 on the Dachstein mittens. I have worn them at -40 F. with nylon shells and was comfortable for hours.
If you rub a shoe wax like Snow Seal into them it will help them remain very water resistant, ken the wools of and keep moths from being “interested” in them.
TIP: After I rubbed on the Snow Seal I heated the Dachsteins with a warm hair drier to help the wax soak in.