Winter Hiking and Backpacking Gift Guide 2020

Winter hiking and backpacking gift guide

Winter is a great time to gear up and get up for some cold weather hiking and snowshoeing 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!

1. 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 are available.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Amazon

2. Black Diamond Beta Light

Black Diamond Beta Light Tent
The Black Diamond Beta Light is a bombproof ultralight tarp tricked out for snow travel. It requires two trekking/ski poles to set up and is guyed so you can anchor it with skis, poles, shovel handles, or ices axes. Weighing just 19 oz, it’s steep walls shed snow, wind, and rain without blinking an eye. An optional inner tent is sold separately for bug season, but for winter use, just bring a shovel to dig out a platform to sleep on. Read the SectionHiker Review.

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Black Diamond | Backcountry

3. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack

HMG 4400 Ice Pack

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Ice Pack is a winter backpacking and mountaineering pack made with ultralight Dyneema DCF fabric, which doesn’t absorb water and is very durable. It gracefully combines a minimalist sensibility with a roll-top and has an integrated crampon pocket, hip belt gear loops, numerous external attachment points,  and daisy chains. A reinforced back panel is provided to haul heavier loads. A ski mod option is also available. HMG also sells this pack in 3400 (55L) and 2400 (40L) volumes.

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear 

4. 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. The Sonic 0 is also available in a -20 degree version.

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Backcountry | REI | Amazon

5. Lowa Mountain Alpine Expert GTX Boots


The lightweight, waterproof Lowa Alpine Expert GTX mountaineering boots are ideal for use with step-in crampons on backpacking trips above treeline and for mixed climbing on rock and snow. Available for MEN and WOMEN, these boots are insulated (rare in leather mountaineering boots) with 400g of Primaloft with Gore-Tex waterproof, breathable membranes. The soles are also replaceable for long life.

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Men’s: REIOutdoorPlay 
Women’s: REI | OutdoorPlay 

6. 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.

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Outdoor Research | REI | Amazon

7. MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove

MSR Whisperlite Universal
The MSR Whisperlite Universal burns a variety of fuels including white gas (for snow melting), kerosene, unleaded gasoline and isobutane canisters giving you lots of flexibility no matter where you find yourself. Just switch the fuel line and select one of 3 self-cleaning Shaker jets, depending on the fuel type required. When burning white gas, the Universal can boil a liter of water in 3 minutes 30 seconds while it takes 3 minutes 45 seconds with an isobutane canister. Simmering is possible with all fuel types as well as a roiling boil, while the remote burner makes it possible to use a windscreen, no matter what type of fuel is used.  In addition to the stove, the 13.7 oz Whisperlite Universal includes a fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, and small parts kit.

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MSR | Amazon

8. MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent Paragon Binding
The MSR Lightning Ascents revolutionized snowshoeing when they were first introduced and MSR has continued to refine them since. They feature a unique 360 degree toothed crampon that’s built into the frame for traction when you’re walking uphill, downhill, or side-hilling across a slope. A flip-up heel bar makes it easier to climb hills, while the four strap binding lays flat, and makes it easy to pack or strap to a backpack.  A women’s model is available.  MSR introduced a new Paragon binding last year which is simpler to use.  Read the SectionHiker Review.

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REI | MSR | Amazon

9. CAMP USA Corsa Ice Axe

Camp Corsa Ice Axe

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. Read the SectionHiker Review.

Check for the latest price at:
Backcountry | REIAmazon

10. 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 make the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras easy to get on and off.

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Backcountry | Amazon

11. Patagonia Nano Puff Vest

Patagonia Nano Puff Vest
An insulated vest is an ideal layer when winter hiking or snowshoeing because it provides freedom of motion for your arms while keeping your core warm. The Nano Puff Vest is windproof and warm, made with 60g of Primaloft Gold Eco Insulation. With 55% post-consumer recycled content, it is the most thermally efficient synthetic insulation available today.

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REI | Patagonia | Amazon

12. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters

Outdoor Research 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. Read the SectionHiker Review.

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Outdoor Research | REI | Amazon

13. The North Face Etip Insulated Gloves

 E-tip gloves

Check your GPS and navigation apps without compromising warmth in The North Face Etip gloves. They offer full finger and palm touch-screen conductivity. Four-way stretch fleece gives you full range of motion while pre-curved fingers improve warmth and blood flow to your fingers by mirroring the natural relaxed curve of the hand. You also can’t go wrong by giving someone fleece gloves. They’re the swiss army knife of winter hiking.

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Backcountry | REI | Amazon

14. Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

Black Diamond’s Trail Back 3-section poles provide patented FlickLock adjustability with zero-slip security.  Simply flick the lock open, set the length and flick the lock closed—a quick, tight, and easily accomplished task, even while wearing winter gloves. Includes low-profile baskets for general use and powder baskets for use in the snow. You can’t use trekking poles in snow without powder baskets. They’re an important element of your snowshoeing flotation system.

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Black Diamond | REI | Amazon

15. Reversible Polar Buff

Reversible Polar Buff

The Polar Buff can be worn as a neckliner, 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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Backcountry | REI | Amazon

16. 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 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. Read the SectionHiker Review.

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Backcountry | REI | Amazon

17. Nitecore NU 32 Headlamp

Nitecore NU 32 Headlamp
The Nitecore NU 32 is a very bright 550 lumen rechargeable headlamp with a larger-than-average 1800 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, and camping. The NU 32 has a built-in power indicator and lock to prevent accidental activation, it is water-resistant to 2 meters and includes a micro-USB cable for recharging. Read the SectionHiker Review.

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18. 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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Darn Tough | REI | Amazon

19. Brynje Wool Thermo Mesh “Fishnet” Long Underwear


20. Backcountry Access B1 EXT-1 Bomber Avalanche Shovel

BCA Shovel
An avalanche shovel is an indispensable snow tool for winter backpacking and snowshoeing allowing you to quickly build snow shelters, prepare winter tent sites, test avalanche conditions, and in an emergency rescue buried companions. The B1 EXT-1 weighs just 1 lbs 5 oz and fits inside most backpacks and ski packs. It was an extendable shaft for fast and efficient digging with an oval shaft that has good prying strength. It also has holes in the blade that can be used to create a rescue sled, an important survival tool whenever you venture into avalanche terrain.

Check for the latest price at:
Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Check out all of SectionHiker’s Gift Guides

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