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Can you believe another year is ending soon? As the holidays rapidly approach, it’s good to start thinking about gifts that will help maintain the flame or light new interests in the outdoors. The more people recreate, the greater the chance to create and foster a new age of conservationists and outdoor lovers. Naturally, the options are completely overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down below to help you find some quality items whose utility goes far beyond individual adventures. This article covers cold-weather gear, which will allow prospective adventures to recreate comfortably during the dead of winter. With the right clothing and equipment, anything is possible.
Before we get started, please keep a few things in mind:
- Global supply/demand issues are spiking post-COVID and show no immediate signs of slowing down; proactive shopping is the way to go to guarantee products arrive on time.
- Remember the deals! Many companies offer stellar discounts and tough-to-beat, end-of-year sales/deals. Do a little research and hunt for those bargains.
- Boring doesn’t mean useless. Hiking socks aren’t the showiest stocking stuffers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Think about someone’s outdoor goals as a complete picture, so you can identify what’s missing. Emerging from the holiday season with a finished set, whether it’s clothing or equipment, is a great way to get stoked on winter recreation.
- Each category will have multiple links. When able, there will be a link to the individual product’s website, along with bulk buying links from places like REI, etc.
- If you’re looking to get a little more information about the outdoor companies whose products we’re featuring, take a look at the article section titled Outdoor Company Showcase for a brief breakdown.
- The prices listed below are average prices associated with the featured product. The listed prices do not take seasonal sales and discounts into account.
- There are links to the best bulk-buying options along with additional resources included at the very bottom of the article in the sections titled Bulk Buying Links and Resources, respectively.
- Happy shopping, and keep an eye out for our summer gift guide collection next May!
Table of Contents
- Outdoor Company Showcase
- Ski Gear
- Casual Winter Gear
- Intense Winter Gear
- Bulk Buying Links
Outdoor Company Showcase
This section is designed as a quick intro to many of the big players in the outdoor product realm. We focus largely on companies that sell physical products. Although experience-based companies can make for wonderful gifts, they are often location or experience-specific. Many of the companies below you may already know, but there may be some surprises in there as well, so take a minute and familiarize yourself with names you are likely to see when shopping for winter outdoor gear and equipment.
- Anon: An outdoor apparel company, Anon focuses on helmets, goggles, and gear for cold weather conditions. They are now a subsidiary of Burton.
- Arc’teryx: Known for high quality (and high prices) Arc’teryx builds things to last and is a leader in high-performance outdoor equipment.
- Atlas Snow-Shoe Company: Perhaps unsurprisingly, these guys focus on making great snowshoes and accessories.
- Atomic: With a great selection of skis and boots, Atomic knows how to make a good ski product.
- Black Crows: A ski and outerwear company, Black Crows have made impressive and desirable skis for years; their powder ski variety is particularly nice.
- Black Diamond: Black Diamond is an outdoor gear mecca with a toehold in many categories including, rock climbing, biking, hiking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and more; they generally have good level quality and industry average prices.
- Blizzard-Tecnica: This Austrian-based company (a division of Tecnica Group) specializes in alpine skiing equipment with a strong focus on skis and accessories (backpacks, ski packs, etc.)
- Buff: Specializing in neckwear, headwear, masks, and gloves; Buff products are on display at many ski resorts, and they continue to be a leader in their niches.
- Burton: Probably the most well-known name in the snowboarding realm, Burton started as a snowboard-making company and has since expanded into all things winter. The product quality is time-tested and durable, with many of their clothing pieces visible on ski hills around the world.
- Campmor: A recreational equipment retailer operating in the same space as REI, Campmor may not have the product depth of larger competitors, but the gear they sell is of good quality, and they tend to have great discounts and sales.
- Christy Sports: A Colorado native company since 1958, Christy Sports helps people step outside. They have brick-and-mortar stores near many popular ski resorts and a wide selection of reputable outdoor gear.
- Cotopaxi: This company champions gear for good, creating sustainable outdoor apparel, and donating a share of their revenues to nonprofits that work to improve the human condition.
- Dakine: Founded in Hawaii and now based in Oregon, Dakine makes reliable packs, travel bags, accessories, and outerwear.
- Danner: Started in 1932, in Oregon, to build specialized boots for loggers, Danner maintains a reliable (albeit small) presence in the outdoor sphere.
- Darn Tough: Proudly from Vermont, this company specializes in outdoor socks that are darn tough. They’ve started to slowly branch out from their core product offerings with hats and shirts, but the socks are what makes them, and the variety is nothing to scoff at.
- Eddie Bauer: Long a center for outdoor apparel, Eddie Bauer has been making quality products across the outdoor sports realm since 1920.
- Elan: Specializing almost exclusively in skis and associated gear, Elan makes great products at reasonable prices.
- evo: Born from a love of all things skiing, evo has fantastic cold-weather products at good prices. They often carry brands and products that REI or Moosjaw don’t.
- Fjallraven: Famously from Sweden, these products will keep you warm and comfortable in extreme conditions. They are made with simplicity and functionality in mind. The company is very environmentally conscious and has made significant inroads into the US market recently.
- Grivel: Started in 1818, this Italian company born from a family of blacksmiths has been mastering mountain equipment for centuries and shows no signs of slowing down.
- Hestra: Another entry from Sweden, Hestra specializes in gloves for freeskiers and riders. They’ve crafted a reputation for durable and well-made products in the winter recreation world.
- Hillsound: Started as a crampon brand, Hillsound has been expanding its offerings and makes reliable recreation gear at good prices.
- Hydroflask: With a supreme water bottle in and recent forays into diversifying product offerings, Hydroflask is a company worth watching.
- Icebreakers: This New Zealand-founded and Japanese-made product company offers supreme comfort and quality from merino wool.
- Julbo: Focusing on the outdoor eyewear field, Julbo makes a few stellar snow sunglasses and glacier goggles.
- K2: Founded in Washington state in 1962, and named after the second tallest peak on earth, this American Ski and Snowboard brand boasts a good reputation and loyal customer base.
- Kahtoola: Based in Flagstaff, AZ, Kahtoola pioneered the wildly popular MICROspikes and has a solid lineup of mountaineering crampons as well.
- Keen: Based in Portland, Oregon, Keen is a staple in the hiking boots category, and their products are distributed worldwide. They generally have a wider fit than comparable hikers.
- Kinco: This company specializes in garden and landscaping tools but also makes a great budget winter glove. Kinco is a subsidiary of A.M. Leonard.
- Kuhl: Founded in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, this well-respected brand makes durable outdoor products.
- La Sportiva: This northern Italian-founded company provides superior technical gear for adventuring in tough conditions. Their mountaineering boots are always amongst the very best in the market.
- Lange: A big player in the ski boot game, it is not uncommon to see hundreds of these pairs on the slopes of any large resort.
- Line: Line specializes in ski design and manufacturing; they have a great lineup and associated gear to help you get the best out of your winter skiing.
- Marker: Founded in Germany in the late 1950s, Marker makes excellent ski bindings, helmets, goggles, and accessories.
- Moosejaw: Like REI, Campmor, and evo, Moosejaw is a retailer specializing in a wide range of gear. If you can’t find a product on REI, chances are you’ll be able to find it on Moosejaw and vice versa.
- MSR: Founded by mountaineer Larry Penberthy, MSR has excellent winter gear and is a trusted brand when it comes to serious outdoor adventure.
- Nalgene: A long-time outdoor water bottle producer, Nalgene offers great water bottle options at low prices.
- North Face: Founded in 1966, this large outdoor company specializes in everything from tents to clothing and is routinely compared to other major players in the field like Columbia and Patagonia.
- Nordica: Founded in 1939, this Italian manufacturing company specialized in winter sports products with a strong focus on skiing.
- Oakley: Originally specializing in glasses, Oakley has been offering up fantastic and stylish ski gear from goggles to helmets. They are a subsidiary of Luxottica, which has a strong monopoly on global eyewear.
- Osprey: American-made backpacks that stand up to a variety of conditions.
- Outdoor Gear Exchange: These Vermont natives have a mission to sell great outdoor products at great prices.
- OR (Outdoor Research): Founded to solve outdoor gear issues, the company prides itself in developing time-tested and functional outdoor equipment. They have been around for decades and are a fairly well-known and well-respected organization.
- Patagonia: Patagonia is a staple of the outdoor industry and has developed some really useful, stylish, and comfortable outdoor gear. In addition, they are an extremely active company with progressive outdoor and climate ideals; in short, they pride themselves on putting their money where their mouth is.
- Petzl: Founded by Fernand Petzl in France in the 1930s, Petzl makes gear you can count on in extreme situations. They are practically synonymous with mountaineering gear and often appear on best-of lists for their products.
- REI: Started as a co-op and continuing much in the same tradition, REI is probably the biggest third-party outdoor retailer in the industry. They also have a burgeoning and affordable variety of in-house products.
- Smartwool: Founded by two skiers in Steamboat Springs, Smartwool is the other major sock competitor to Darn Tough. Both deliver good socks for various outdoor products and are worth looking into.
- Smith: Started in 1965, Smith has been in the winter gear game for a while and offers great ski goggles, glasses, helmets, and apparel.
- Salomon: This French company makes very comfortable gear in the outdoor space. Despite the comfort, they are not known for making the most durable products out there.
- Stio: Founded in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the company aims to connect the outdoor to people in a sustainable and responsible manner. Their products are becoming more popular in the outdoor realm.
- Sunski: This company aims to provide the best and most curated sunglasses to its users and has produced quality glacier sunglasses.
- Thule: Well-known for its roof racks, this Swedish company also makes a great ski bag worth checking out.
- Tyrolia: Hyper-focused on ski bindings, Tyrolia is a company obsessed with creating the best connection between skis and ski boots.
- Volkl: A German manufacturer of reliable gear, Volkl has developed a solid reputation and maintains a sizeable customer base.
- Yaktrax: Founded in the Himalayas, this company specializes in winter traction devices for a variety of activities.
- Yeti: With a curated set of dependable drinkware, coolers, and bags, Yeti has taken the outdoor world by storm.
- Zeal Optics: This small Boulder-based company makes sunglasses, goggles, and accessories.
With the outdoors, it’s easier to split gift ideas into seasons. Cold season gifts are particularly easy to think about around the holidays because the northern hemisphere is finally cooling off. Keep in mind that these items will be in vogue with many other outdoor adventurers, so remember to hunt for those deals and refresh pages to keep up with company supplies.
- Clothing: Even if you’re association with the outdoors is more tangential than anything else, cold-weather clothing is a useful and practical gift to get for multiple people. Take a look at some nice options below for gift ideas. Each category has three solid choices with links to pictures and prices.
- Beanies. So simple in design but so effective at retaining heat, beanies have long been staples in various outdoor communities.
- Neckwear. You lose a lot of heat in your neck, and a good buff can be the difference between a toasty time and a frozen one, consider some of the following options.
- Thermal Underwear. A good pair of thermals can make a freezing chairlift ride a lot more tolerable; check these options out.
- Thermal Top. Pairs great with thermal underwear.
- Men’s Winter Jackets. Aspects to consider, comfort, warmth, fit, durability, and waterproofing.
- Women’s Winter Jackets: Aspects to consider, comfort, warmth, fit, durability, and waterproofing.
- Men’s Winter Hiking Pants.
- Women’s Winter Hiking Pants.
- Men’s cold weather socks.
- Women’s cold weather socks.
- Men’s Winter Boots.
- Women’s Winter Boots.
- Men’s Winter Gloves.
- Women’s Winter Gloves.
Ski Gear: This list can really balloon if you aren’t careful, but we’ve compiled some rock-solid options to get you started on (or continue) your skiing and riding journeys. Some companies use authorized vendors to sell their items; if this is the case, both the company website and an authorized vendor are linked next to the product.
- Skis. This category can get outrageous pretty quickly. There are a ton of options, but for the skiing generalist, all-mountains are the best. For serious snowy days, powder skis reign supreme. If you want speed and edges, carving skis are hard to beat. This is not a how-to guide for beginners; these are just some of the best products currently out there. Keep in mind, many established ski companies sell men’s and women’s skis, but there is a growing consensus that the gender split may be more of a marketing tool than anything else. Additionally, skis can come without bindings; make sure you have both before taking it to the mountain!
- All-mountain best: Nordica Enforcer 100 (~$750)
- All-mountain runner up: Volkl Mantra 102 (~$750)
- All-mountain budget: Line Sick Day 88 (~$400)
- Powder best: Black Crows Anima (~$900)
- Powder runner up: Salomon QST Blank (~$750-900) REI (no bindings)
- Powder budget: Elan Ripstick (~600-700)
- Carving best: Atomic Redster G9 (~$1000)
- Carving runner-up: Blizzard Firebird WRC (~$1100) (comes w/ bindings)
- Carving budget: Line Sick Day 88 (~$400)
- Best Ski Bindings
- Men’s Skiing Jackets:
- Women’s Skiing Jackets:
- Men’s Skiing Gloves:
- Women’s Skiing Gloves:
- Ski Goggles:
- Helmets (unisex):
- Men’s Ski Boots:
- Women’s Ski Boots:
- Ski Poles:
- Ski Bags:
- Boot Bags:
Backcountry Ski Gear: Backcountry skiing comes with a host of additional risks and demands coherent outdoor skills along with expert skiing ability. For a list of what is required, please visit our Backcountry Ski Gear Article. Once you have the gear, visit our Backcountry Ski Planner to make sure you’re absolutely ready for the great white wonder.
Casual Winter Gear
- Walk (~$20)
- Water bottles:
- Cold weather backpacks (day-use):
Intense Winter Gear
- Mountaineering Snowshoes:
- Intermediate Traction (good for slopes up to ~35 degrees):
- Mountaineer Crampons (for steeper and more technical terrain):
- Glacier Sunglasses (great for sunny days in highly reflective snowfields):
- Axe (mountaineer and ice)
- Mountaineering Helmets:
- Four Season Tents
Bulk Buying Links
Most items above can be bought through the following third-party sites. Sometimes going through the store’s direct website can unlock deals, but generally speaking, the ease of using well-known retailers can remove a lot of the hassle of online shopping.