Home / Gift Guides / Winter Hiking and Backpacking Gift Guide: Gear Up and Get Out

Winter Hiking and Backpacking Gift Guide: Gear Up and Get Out

Winter Backpacking Hiking Gift Guide

Winter is a great time to gear up and get up for some cold weather hiking and backpacking adventure. 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. There’s no denying that winter gear costs a lot but it also lasts for many years and can be a good value if you use it. I own and have used many of the items list below. The rest is gear I want a special *someone* (hint) to buy me for the holidays!

Julbo Vermont Classic Glacier Sunglasses

Julbo Vermont Classic Glacier Sunglasses

Julbo Vermont Classic Glacier Sunglasses block 100% of UV rays and 95% of visible light protecting your eyes from the snow’s glare. Moldable ear temples offer  a customized fit. A leather nose piece and vented side shields block peripheral light and can be removed as needed. Multiple colors available.

Price $150

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Garmin inReach Explorer+ Satellite Communicator

Garmin inReach Explorer+

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ Satellite Communicator is a GPS-enabled tracker, navigation device, and two-way texting device than lets you share your location or text with SMS phone numbers and email addresses. A built-in SOS button lets you summon emergency aid and sends confirmation that your SOS has been received. Preloaded Topo maps, an altimeter, and barometer let you follow routes, record tracks, keep trip statistics, and mark backcountry waypoints. You can even receive local weather forecasts.

Price $450

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MSR Access 3 Winter Tent

MSR Access 3 Winter Tent

The 4-season MSR Access 3 Tent is warm enough for cold winter nights, yet light enough to keep you nimble on the move. It provides the protection that backcountry skiers and snowshoers need for camping in less severe conditions, such as those near tree-line. The robust frame withstands overnight snow loading, and is quick to set up in the cold. Dual doors and vestibules provide easy access and gear storage.

Price $699.95

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Montane Deep Heat Down Jacket

Montane Deep Heat Down Jacket

The Montane Deep Heat Down Jacket is a blast furnace of a jacket, the one you’ll pull out to layer up on an exposed summit or when you’re melting snow for water.

Built for extreme cold, the Deep Heat Jacket combines water resistant fluorocarbon-free HyperDRY™ 800+ fill power goose down and a unique PERTEX® QUANTUM PRO shell with diamond-shaped interlocking yarns to improve durability. The Deep Heat Jacket is loaded with features including an fully adjustable hood (increasingly rare), two-way front zipper, three external pockets, and two internal mesh pockets store your gloves or water bottle.

Price $400

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Gregory Paragon and Maven Backpacks

Gregory Paragon and Maven Backpacks

The Gregory Paragon 58L (men’s) and Maven 55L (women’s) packs are lightweight, alpine-style packs weighing just over 3 pounds with a slim profile that’s perfect for winter hiking and backpacking. Featuring an adjustable length hipbelt and torso, they provide a custom fit for every physique. Remove the internal sleeping bag divider and use it in place of the top lid to shave even more weight for an ultralight configuration. Available in 48L\45L, 58L\55L, and 68L\65L volumes.

Price $229.95

Buy the Paragon Buy the Maven

NEMO Sonic 0 Sleeping Bag

NEMO Sonic 0 Sleeping Bag

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 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.

Price $499.95

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Exped DownMat HL Winter Sleeping Pad

Exped WinterLite HL Sleeping Pad

The Exped DownMat HL Winter Sleeping Pad is one of the lightest winter mats around at 17 oz (72″ x 20″) with an R-Value of 7.0. It’s filled with 700-fill-power duck down with flat inflation values for increased reliability. If you’ve never slept on a down-filled sleeping pad in winter, you don’t know what you’re missing. Available in multiple length and widths.

Price $186-250

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Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO Boots

Lowa Mountain Expert GTX Evo Mountaineering Boots

The lightweight, waterproof Lowa Mountain Expert GTX Evo mountaineering boots are ideal for use with step-in crampons on backpacking trips above tree line and for mixed climbing on rock and snow. Available for MEN and WOMEN, these boots are insulated (rare in leather mountaineering boots) with 200g of Primaloft with Gore-Tex® waterproof, breathable membranes. The soles are also replaceable for long life.

Price $400

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Outdoor Research Mt Baker Modular Mitts

Outdoor Research Mt Baker Mitts

The Outdoor Research Mt. Baker Modular Mitts, with removable PrimaLoft One liner gloves, provide high warmth and storm protection in cold, damp climates. GORE-TEX 3-layer laminated nylon shells offer waterproof, breathable protection with long gauntlets; synthetic leather palms add durability and good grip. PrimaLoft One liner gloves have a high warmth-to-weight ratio and continue to insulate when wet; when it warms up or you need better dexterity, they can be worn alone. The liners also have heat pack pockets on the backs.

Price $145

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Black Diamond/Pieps Avalanche Safety Kit

Black Diamond - Pieps Avalanche Safety Kit

The Black Diamond/Pieps Avalanche Safety Set includes best-of-breed components for backcountry skiers or someone taking an Avalanche 101 class. It includes a Pieps DSP Sport Transceiver, a Transfer 3 Shovel and a 280cm QuickDraw Tour Probe. The Pieps DSP Sport Transceiver has a large search radius and 3 antennas for accuracy. It displays the number of buried victims as stick figures on a LCD screen. The Transfer 3 Shovel has removable shaft for easy packing, while the 280cm QuickDraw Tour Probe can be used for measuring test pits or searches in a rescue.

Price $399.95

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Jetboil Joule Cook System

Jetboil Joule Canister Stove

The Jetboil Joule Cooking System lets you burn canister gas in its liquid (upside down) form, letting you cook in temperatures down to 10 degrees. The insulated 2.5 liter FluxRing pot is ideal for efficiently melting snow, and while the 10,000 BTU stove can boil 1L water in just 2:40, it can still simmer.

Price $199.99

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MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

With tough, reliable decking, and security that tubular frames can’t touch, the ultralight MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes provide a solid platform for mountain snowshoeing. Available in MEN’S and WOMEN’S models. The 2-piece PosiLock AT bindings create a secure, freeze-resistant attachment, regardless of footwear.  An integrated heel wire reduces calf-strain on climbs. Wrap-around 360 degree traction frames offer edge-to-edge grip while the split tooth crampons distribute forces for continuous contact, delivering traction on any terrain.

Price $289.95-299.95

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

CAMP USA Corsa Ice Axe

Camp Corsa Ice Axe

Quite possibly the lightest ice axe 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 solid bite, and the rear adze adds chopping power.

Price $119.95

Buy Now

Want to know more? Here are gear reviews about some of the items listed above and their performance in real world conditions.

Disclosure: This gift guide was sponsored by REI Co-op.

Written 2017.

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.


  1. That Nemo bag is speaking to me. I’m very cold-natured, so even Georgia/Tennessee/North Carolina/Virginia winters are brutal for me.

    Maybe it’s time to sell my WM 10* bag and get this one instead.

    • It’s a very nice bag. I got rid of myWM when I got it.

      • Wow, ok, that might settle it for me.

        By the way, I loved your review of the bag (at the link you provided). Very funny!

      • Hi Phillip, could you compare and contrast the Nemo Sonic 0 and the WM bag it replaced? The Nemo seems to have much less down fill than WM 0 rated bags.

      • I went from a -25 WM Puma to a 0 Nemo Sonic because I decided that I didn’t enjoy sub-zero trips. Hard to really compare them. But categorically, Western Mountaineering has slipped from their long time top spot in my mind because they really haven’t innovated much in the past decade. They still have nice bags, but so do many other brands like NEMO, Feathered Friends, Montbell.

  2. Do you have any recommendations for winter headwear, like a balaclava? Are you still a fan of the OR Sonic?

  3. No offense, but this post reeks of commercialism.

    • None taken. It is a GIFT guide afterall (hint: it’s in the title)
      But the main difference between my gift guides and the ones written by the interns at backpacker magazine is that I actually know what I’m talking about since I am a winter hiker and backpacker.

  4. I just found the Montane Deep Heat Jacket at a deep discount that I couldn’t say no to… and I am glad that I didn’t. It is an great jacket that you were right to recommend. Absolutely loaded with all of the features one would want in a very warm but lightweight jacket for winter backpacking and camping. I especially like the extra coverage provided by the jacket’s longer hem and the hood is excellent. Looks like quality stitching. This one will keep you toasty warm.

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