Getting You Through the Cold Season

15 Winter Camping Essentials

This post has been updated with our picks for winter 2016.

Most people see winter as the season of retreat. Snow, wind and a dearth of sunlight are trials on both the body and spirit, the cures for which tend to be hot toddies by the fireplace and foreign cinema streaming on demand. A select few tend to reject these prescriptions. Instead, they seek the silence and stillness of the wintertime outdoors: pristine, peaceful and ready to be explored. But venturing out for any extended period of time cannot be taken lightly, and requires serious planning and investment on late-season gear to be accomplished safely with any level of comfort. Your checklist is going to change with the activity — skiing, snowboarding, even surfing — but here are the essentials for a proper base camp to help you settle into that next adventure. When the sun goes down, you’ll be glad you came prepared.

Additional reporting by AJ Powell


Hilleberg’s Nallo GT 3 features a massive vestibule so you can keep your gear protected without having to stash it inside of your sleeping area.
Hilleberg – Nallo GT 3 $885


Made from heavyweight wool, the Woolies 3 bottoms will keep you warm all day out on the trail while still being breathable and managing moisture.
Ibex – Woolies 3 Bottom $63


Rated to -20 degrees and filled with water-resistant Q Shield down, the Wraith sleeping bag is the ultimate winter companion.
Mountain Hardwear – Wraith Sleeping Bag $900


FITS Socks makes some of the best-fitting merino wool socks on the market.
FITS Socks – Ultra Heavy Expedition Rugged Boot $21


Designed to work with almost any fuel source, the XGK stove will boil water in just 2.8 minutes.
MSR – XGK EX Stove $120


Big Agnes’s Q-Core sleeping pad is filled with synthetic insulation to keep you from losing heat to the cold ground.
Big Agnes – Insulated Q-Core Sleeping Pad $80+


Never deal with cold feet in your tent again.
Western Mountaineering – Flash Down Booties $70


The Alpinisto pack offers enough room to stash all of you gear and also features key winter features like an ice axe loop.
Gregory – Alpinisto 50 $239


Sea to Summit’s warmest sleeping bag liner can extend the use of a lighter sleeping bag, and is also great for travel.
Sea to Summit – Extreme Thermolite Sleeping Bag Liner $68


The versatility of a traditional Buff, with the added warmth of Polartec fleece.
Buff – Polar Buff $22+


The burliest mitts you will ever own.
Black Diamond – Absolute Mitt $200


Never be without a flame with Light My Fire’s firesteel knife and fire starter combo.
Light My Fire – Swedish FireKnife $26


A shovel can be a lifesaver when camping in the backcountry. Use it to dig a survival shelter, or build kitchen areas in deep pockets of snow.
Voile – Mini TelePro Shovel T6 $48


Vasque’s insulated hiking boot offers all of the traction and support of a traditional hiking boot with the added benefit of 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation.
Vasque – Arrowhead Ultra Dry $160+


Keep snow out of your boots with Outdoor Research’s top-performing Gore-Tex gaiters.
Outdoor Research – Crocodile Gaiters $53+