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Winter Hiking Gift Guide (2023-2024)

Winter Hiking Gift Guide

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 20 expert gift recommendations for the winter hiker and backpacker in your life.

1. Patagonia Classic Retro-X Jacket

Patagonia RetroX Classic pile Jacket
A true classic, Patagonia’s Retro-X Sherpa Pile Fleece Jacket will keep them toasty warm on the mountain and in the pub. This wind-blocking, heat-trapping fleece jacket has a windproof barrier bonded to a cozy 85% recycled polyester fleece exterior. Y-Joint sleeves provide mobility through the shoulders and arms while the vertical-zippered chest pocket and zippered handwarmer pockets provide plenty of storage for snacks and valuables. Available for men and women.

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2. Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody

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.

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3. Biolite Headlamp 800 Pro

Biolite 750 headlamp
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.

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4. MSR Reactor Stove System

MSR Reactor Stove System

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.

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5. Garmin inReach Mini 2 Satellite Messenger

Garmin inreach mini satellite Messanger
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.

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6. Dachstein Classic Boiled Wool Mittens

Dachstein Mittens
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.

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7. Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Sleeping Pad

etherlight extreme
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.

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8. Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 Sleeping Bag

Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 Sleeping Bag

The Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 is an exceptionally warm down sleeping bag insulated with 900 fill power premium goose down. A favorite bag for mountaineering on Mt Rainier, in the Rockies, and in Nepal, it has a Pertex Shield EX exterior shell fabric, dual locking side zippers, and a generous side draft tube.  Continuous baffles let you reposition down where you need it most while the unique draft collar has waterproof/breathable facing to prevent breath condensation from entering the bag. A true winter camping and touring classic.

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9. outerU faceGlove

faceGlove diagram
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.

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10. Forty Below Bottle “Boot” Insulator

Forty Below Water bottle Boot
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.

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11. Outdoor Research Prevail Heated Mittens

OR Prevail Heated Mittens

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.

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12. NEMO Switchback Folding Foam Sleeping Pad

Nemo Switchback Sleeping Pad
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.

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13. CAMP USA Corsa Ice Axe

Camp Corsa 2021-2

A hiker favorite, the ultralight CAMP USA Corsa excels at ski mountaineering, adventure racing, low-angle glacier travel, and winter peakbagging. 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.

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14. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters

Red Crocodile Gaiters

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.

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15. SkiPulk Paris Pulk

Paris Pulk
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.

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16. Reversible Polar Buff

Reversible Polar Buff

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.

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17. Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket

Feathered Friend EOS Jacket

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 also available.

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18. GooseFreet Gear Down Socks

Goosefeet Gear Down Socks
Cold feet sleeper? These GooseFeet Gear Down Socks are the perfect solution. Made from your choice of lightweight nylon fabric and filled with 850+ power premium goose down treated with DownTek for water resistance, these socks are designed to keep your feet warm and comfy all night long. They also make great back-country hut footwear. Elastic ankle cuffs ensure they stay put and keep the warmth in. These socks conveniently pack into a small stuff sack (included).

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19. Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

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.

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20. Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks

Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks
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!

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  1. #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.

  2. When I was a young man here in the south of the UK we used to get lots of snow and it could last for around two months. Helicopters sometimes dropped food for us. This era used to be very cold as well, but during the last 20 years we have only had two separate days of snow, and that was all gone within 24 hours. My judgement today is that our winters now tend to be mild and wet. The only product I’ve bought to manage real cold and biting winds is a padded hat (made my Lowe Alpine) that I can pull over my ears when I go to my nearest mountains area, 300 miles away. If I want to experience proper snow I have to go to Scotland, over 450 miles away. I’ve looked through the list and I like the look of the mittens so will investigate them.

  3. Philip you had any durability issues with your ether light XT over the years?

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