Editor’s note: This year’s a bit different—shop early to avoid lines in-store and get your gifts delivered with plenty of time to spare. Shopping in-store? There might be a line. Join the virtual waitlist from anywhere to save time.
Give outdoor cheer to someone who lives in a winter wonderland. We’ve created a list of our favorite gifts that celebrate the fourth season from equipment like snowshoes and sleds to apparel like puffy jackets and waterproof boots. Just add snow.
If your giftee is staring outside at a blanket of snow, perhaps they need a pair of ’shoes to keep their hiking season going. The Lightning Ascents are one of the more versatile options at REI (indeed, we called them the Best All-Around in our guide) thanks to a burly aluminum frame, heaps of traction and an easy-to-adjust binding. They also boast MSR’s legendary ballistic-grade decking for A+ durability, so your friend won’t need new snowshoes in future holiday seasons. $319.95
Help your loved one keep their fingertips or core warm during snowy hikes or cold walks with the Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer. It includes a funnel that you use to fill it with lighter fluid, then it generates flameless heat 2.5 times warmer than disposable warmers, the brand says. That means that this long-lasting heater—which fits neatly inside a pocket or mitten—eliminates the need for single-use heat packs, so it’s win-win for your cold friend and Mother Nature. $21.95
Winter hikers and snowshoers often need waterproof, insulated boots for their pursuits. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair with more bang for your buck than these technical midcuts from Merrell. They have 200 grams of low-bulk, synthetic insulation and a grippy outsole that should give your friend mountain goat-like traction in the elements. And all that comes in at a price that’s less than what many summer hiking boots cost. $109.95
Keeps heads warm and looks good while doing it—that’s the REI Co-op Ribbed Watch Cap, a basic acrylic stocking cap that comes in an array of earth-tone colors. It’s soft to the touch and can be worn folded (pictured) or unfolded if your giftee wants a little more bounce at the top. $14.95
Pretend it’s for your kids, but you’ll want to take a rip on this Lucky Bums sled. Super-slick plastic and speed channels cut into the base combine to make it one of the faster models on the hill. It has a tow rope for toting it back to the top or pulling picnic fixings to your outdoor hang. Bonus: It’s made with recycled plastic. Available in a 35-inch version and a 48-inch version (pictured). $30–$34.95
Give your snow lover the stability they need on any excursion with these winter-friendly poles from MSR. They’re available in multiple sizes and adjustable, telescoping down to a pack-friendly size and extending to 55 inches. Nice touch: They come with powder baskets and summer baskets, so your giftee can use them after the snow melts. Available in a carbon version and an aluminum version (pictured). $59.95–$149.95
Any backpack will carry supplies fine, but if you’re shopping for a snowshoer or skier, you may want the winter-specific features of the Kresta 14 from Osprey. It has tuckaway attachments to carry skis or a board, a reservoir pouch with an insulated sleeve for the hose (so water doesn’t freeze), a fleece goggles pockets and glove-friendly zipper pulls. At 14 liters (the Kamber is 16), it’s on the small side (day trips only), but should be able to fit water, snacks and layers. $100
At first glance, your giftee may wonder why you bought them a steering wheel. But just reply that the 5-star reviews on REI.com don’t lie: This unique-looking shovel is a versatile addition to any snow lover’s kit. To use the Snow Claw Guide, you grab the handles (cough, like a steering wheel) and point the front claw into the snowpack, moving the snow away from you with the tool like a paddle. You can also use it front side-up like a plate (pictured). The blade is made of flexible HDPE plastic, so it naturally folds like a spoon to shovel tons of snow. It folds or rolls up for compact packing. $20
Folks who travel in avalanche terrain must carry (and know how to use) the three essentials: beacon, shovel, probe. If you’re shopping for one such person who’s looking to build out a kit, take a flyer on the Recon Avy Set from Black Diamond. It contains the Recon BT beacon, Transfer 3 shovel and Quickdraw Tour 280 probe, and by buying them together, you save $45. Before gifting, make sure your daring friend knows how to use the stuff or plans to learn soon. $419.95
Perfect as a casual outer layer around town or as a snuggly mid layer for cold hiking or snowshoeing, the iconic Patagonia Better Sweater is an all-around winter workhorse. The sweater-knit outer layer resists pilling, while the recycled fleece inner layer is soft on skin. Available in lots of options. $139
Every winter adventurer should know about the importance of layering, which means the one on your list should be pleased with this versatile down jacket from REI Co-op. It’s filled with responsibly sourced, 650-fill-power down that packs a ton of warmth for the weight (well under a pound), making it a great option for subfreezing temps. The hoodless version slides neatly under a shell, but the thing looks great with jeans, too. Available in lots of options. $99.95
“I have two R1s and would still be pleased to unwrap another this holiday season,” says one devoted Co-op Journal editor, illustrating our point: You can’t go wrong with the Patagonia R1. It was first introduced in 1999 and quickly grew a fan base as backcountry users realized the high-loft waffle material is unmatched when it comes to trapping heat next to skin while easily letting moisture and sweat escape. It’s awesome as a base layer, mid layer or outer layer (in milder climes). Available in lots of options. $129
Named for the backpacking locale where REI Co-op founders Mary and Lloyd Anderson allegedly dreamed up the co-op in 1929, this ridiculously soft flannel will inspire hugs and love everywhere from the trail to the couch. It’s made of soft cotton and comes in tons of colors sure to satisfy even the pickiest of people on your gift list. Available in a handful of options. $59.95–$64.95
All photography by Andrew Bydlon.
Need more inspiration? Check out our Best Holiday Gifts for Less Than $50, Best Holiday Gifts for Outdoorsy Kids, Best Holiday Gifts for Runners, Best Holiday Gifts for Hikers and Campers, Best Holiday Gifts for Outdoorsy Dogs (and Their Humans), Best Holiday Gifts for Gadget Lovers and more product roundups in our Trail Mix series.