Should you ever be in the unfortunate situation of being stranded in the winter, most survivalists advise that you stay in your vehicle and wait for help. This, of course, is the wisest course of action. Should you find it absolutely necessary to leave your vehicle to get help (for a loved one in medical need), you’ll need to be well equipped for the trip. Along with an emergency kit, which you should keep in your vehicle, we recommend that you keep the following items in your winter repertoire. We’ve done a fair amount of research to bring you solid cold weather gear, which should keep you warm, protected and prepared. Even if you’re not faced with an emergency, the gear we’ve listed below will have you well situated for any serious inclement weather that comes your way.
The North Face Softwool Merino Crew Baselayer
No matter how warm your exterior clothing is, if you don’t have a dependable base layer, you won’t be able to effectively protect your core temperature. We’ve already proven to you that merino wool is a very effective and comfortable material, and it stays warm when it’s wet. That’s the key. The North Face comes through with their Softwool crew in long sleeve top, here to protect the largest organ you have (your skin, He-Man, your skin).
Buy Now: $99
Patagonia R4 Fleece Jacket
Patagonia’s R4 Jacket is their warmest fleece jacket, with Polartec Windbloc, which consists of a high-loft polyester exterior and a windproof laminate sandwiched between the outer layer and the R2 grid interior. Throw this over your base or 2nd layer, and you’ve got warmth down to a science. Plus, with improved technology, bulk is reduced for overall ease of movement. If you think fleece is fleece, you need this jacket in your winter ensemble to prove you wrong, which could actually prevent you from being dead wrong.
Buy Now: $250
Arc’teryx Theta SV Jacket
When Old Man Winter decides to up the steroid usage and wants to pound your frozen butt the minute you step outside, it’s hard not to dress looking like Nanook of the North or a down-stuffed Michelin Man. Layering is the answer for retention of body heat and flexibility should the conditions change. Let the Arc’teryx Theta SV Jacket be your high-performance outer shell. It’s constructed with 3-layer Gore-Tex, articulated elbows, helmet-capacity hood and full seat coverage. Waterproof and breathable, it provides plenty of protection during winter sports or anything more rigorous, like survival. Plus, its monochrome exterior makes you look coolly prepared, instead of like you collided with a paint truck.
Buy Now: $550
Mountain Hardwear WindStopper Tech Pant
Just because denim tends to be thick doesn’t make them good for cold weather. In fact, if cotton gets cold, that’s a bullet train ticket to clammy and numb legs during the winter, guaranteed. Mountain Hardwear’s WindStopper Tech Pant will provide you with the right kind of winter protection. With abrasion resistant knees and seat, they’ll take a fair amount of punishment through the frozen terrain and on the slopes. With full length zippers, the Tech Pant is easy-on, easy off and can accommodate skis, boots and crampons.
Buy Now: $120
Smartwool PhD Heavy Crew Merino Wool Socks
Wearing cotton socks during cold weather is about as smart as licking a frozen flagpole. Your feet sweat, the cotton gets soaked and actually chills your skin. And don’t try fleece socks, Mr. Snuggie. Totally impractical. Invest in several pairs of Smartwool PhD Heavy Crew Merino Wool Socks for your coldest days, especially when you need the padding to walk farther than from your front door to your mailbox. Made in the USA with New Zealand Merino Wool, these socks have impact zone padding to make your aching dogs stop barking while you kick winter’s butt.
Buy Now: $23
Sorel Maverick Boots
These are not the kind of boots you use to go smelting. These are no-holds-barred arctic boots that shun events like farmer’s markets or a winter walk to Starbucks. Strap the Sorel Mavericks in the kind of weather that makes your snots freeze and your eyes water, when it’s quicker to walk in the snow than to drive in it. With a handcrafted waterproof vulcanized rubber shell and a removable thick felt liner, these boots will survive numerous winters and cold, wet weather like a champ. Plus, you look a hell of a lot tougher than the poor sucker wearing his ankle-high duck boots.
Buy Now: $110
Outdoor Research Outdoor Ninjaclava
Just because you try to be fashionable most of the time doesn’t mean you can’t make an excuse to channel GI Joe’s vow-of-silence stealth ops specialist, Snake Eyes during frigid winters . Outdoor Research’s aptly named Ninjaclava will protect your Sputnik-sized cranium from an onslaught of inclement weather and have you looking downright intimidating in the process. It provides full head and face protection and will ensure that your head doesn’t vent all that life-saving body heat as you trek home. If you need to sneak in a corn dog, the face mask pulls down easily. To boot, this versatile piece of gear has 6-in-1 versatility, in full coverage form, neck gaiter, beanie, hat with neck shield (mullet cover), open-face mask and standalone face mask. Let the ice-shurikens fly!
Buy Now: 428
Julbo Explorer Glacier Glasses with Cameleon Anti-Fog Lenses
Your Ray Ban Wayfarers look great on the beach or cruising in your Porsche Boxster Spyder, but they just don’t cut it in the extremes of winter. You need protection from whiteout conditions and from the harsh reflection of the winter sun off the snow-covered ground. Glacier Glasses are not just for mountaineering. They work wonders when the snow is blowing sideways and when the winter sun has appeared to have gone supernova. Check out the Julbo Explorer Glacier Glasses with Cameleon Anti-Fog Lenses. Their photochromatic lenses self-adjust, allowing in 3-43% of visible light and changing up to 50% of their light transmission capacity in less than 28 seconds. With wraparound styling, removable side shields, and 360 degree adjustable temples, they are as flexible as they are cool. Time to trade in the Boxster for the Snowcat.
Buy Now: $190
Marmot Expedition Mitts
Okay, so dressing to the hilt for winter makes you look like a pregnant walrus, and mittens just complete the look. But admit it, nothing keeps your grubby meathooks warmer than a good pair of high-tech mittens. Case in point, the Marmot Expedition Mitts–fully waterproof and breathable, thanks to Marmot’s MemBrain fabric–have been tested by alpine expeditions at 8000 foot elevations. If they’re good enough for frozen summits, they’re good enough for anything this winter can heave your way. Thanks to Marmot, your manly mittens have arrived. Just don’t try defusing a bomb with them.
Buy Now: $110
Suunto Elementum Terra Watch
There’s no delicate ostrich strap or a rose gold finish on this watch. The Suunto Terra Elementum watch is all business when it comes to providing data to survive. Compass, thermometer, barometer, altimeter and, of course, the time are all displayed on its crisp LED face. The 316L stainless steel case and anti-reflective, scratch resistant sapphire crystal give it the toughness you need in the great outdoors. With all its features, it can help you decide if you’re headed towards home and whether or not you need to build a shelter for the night. You even might be able to get away with pairing it with a suit with its classy bracelet and it’s slick negative face.
Buy Now: $900+
With frigid temperatures often come situations where your fingers are not the best tools. Chipping the ice off a car lock, cutting and stripping branches to make a fire, cutting entangled wire, opening a can of emergency rations–none of these tasks can be done without a tool, unless you’re Logan from X-Men. The Leatherman Surge (in Skunkworks matte black) could end up being your savior, no matter what the conditions. With just about every multi-tool component you can think of, you’d be hard-pressed to out-use this bad boy. Twist wire to secure a shelter? Open a can of soup in a pinch? Need an ice sculpture of the Pyramids of Giza? Done, done and done.
Buy Now: $79
Sonim XP3.20 Quest Phone
If you’re stranded in subzero temperatures, that fireplace app on your iPhone 4 will not cut it. Your smartphone doesn’t have the crystalline cojones to make it at those frigid temps, but the Sonim XP3.20 Quest Phone does. Looking like a cross between a mobile phone and an armadillo, you can drop it from 6 feet up onto concrete, and it’ll work flawlessly from -4 degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, it’s dust and micro-particle proof, and you can submerge it in a meter of water for 30 minutes. 18 hours of talk time and built-in GPS will surely save your bacon when you need it most. You don’t call for a veggie pizza and polish off the next stage of Angry Birds with this phone. You call in for a helo lift just before whipping it at a pheasant for your next meal in the woods.
Buy Now: $400
Petzl Tactikka XP Adapt LED Headlamp
We at GP love our flashlights. If it shines, beams and illuminates, we want it. Since the sun is scant during the winter months, chances are that in an emergency, you will need some kind of light. Strap the Petzel Tactikka Adapt LED Headlamp to your brain bucket, and you’ll be hands-free to perform any necessary tasks to make your way back to civilization. With red, green and blue filters to aid in nighttime visibility, 120 hour AAA battery life and belt clip and backpack attachments, the Tactikka is as versatile as they come.
Buy Now: $66
Also See: Ultimate Survival Kit | Bug Out Bag
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