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+