Essential Pieces of Must-Have Winter Gear

How is winter already knocking on our doorstep? What a year it’s been, but just because the season of snow is upon us, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the outdoors. In fact, many of us are dusting off our skis, checking the glue on our skins, and taking our coveted puffy jackets out of the closet. We have amassed this mega-list of must-have winter gear to get you out the door.

When it came to wondering what makes a piece of winter gear essential, we had a lot of thoughts. In fact, it was almost too hard to narrow it down to just a few key pieces. So where did we turn? To our pros of course! We went to the experts on all things snow to give us their most-coveted pieces of winter gear. These are the top-notch items our pros use every winter. Why? Because they are durable, multi-functional, and last forever. So here’s the lineup of winter gear essentials according to the outdoor pros.

The MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove

“The MSR WhisperLite Universal simply works anywhere. My girlfriend and I took a road trip to Idaho to pick up an owl (James N. works with owls). We decided to stop at Shasta and camp pretty close to the base camp in the snow. We weren’t prepared for how cold it was going to be that night since it wasn’t the plan, but the stove still worked. We had a nice warm meal. Probably the coldest night we’ve had together since we decided to snow camp last minute. But the beer was always cold and the stove worked flawlessly.”

– James N.  Instructor and Ropes Lead as well as an Abatement Falconer

Chaco Slippers

The discovery of Chaco Slippers on the Outdoor Pro’s forum sparked much conversation. It turns out these are a real thing. And a total game-changer.

“Two words. Chaco. Slippers. I understand the confusion, but Chaco slippers are a thing and they are AMAZINGGGGGGGGG! Total game-changer, warm, cozy fleece, and hard bottoms.”

-Jennifer N. Park Ranger and Interpreter

CAMP Summit’n

“CAMP Summit’n: BEST mittens on the market. I don’t know what’s in there.. elves burning coal?! But it keeps hands toasty on -10F weather/ 50mph winds.”

-Shiv G. Volunteer First Responder

Wow! If you’re infamous for having ice fingers and clearly, the CAMP Summit’n are the solution to keeping your digits toasty this winter so you can keep getting out there!

Himali Ascent Stretch Hoodie

“Himali Ascent Stretch Hoodie: My new go-to, all-around winter layer, breathes enough to approach but not sweat and warm enough to keep you warm while belaying or standing still. Great all-around movement. Good wind/ weather resistance as well. The only thing I have given a 5-star review for!”

-Zach E. Wildlife Biologist

Check out a more in depth review from Zack on the blog at Dirtbag Dreams.

Smartwool Socks

“Can’t live without my SmartWool socks.”

Daniel J. Outdoor Prolink Gear Tester

We agree! Smartwool’s lineup of amazing socks are a must-have in any winter outfit. From their lineup of stylish socks for town to their incredible array of technical socks for just about any outdoor activity, you can never have too many pairs of Smartwool socks.

Backcountry Access Link Radios

“I’m going with BCA Link Radios. Best thing ever when you lose your friends at the resort, need to communicate in the backcountry, or you just want to tell jokes on random chairlifts”

– Jess V. Outdoor Prolink Marketing Guru

“I was going to say this, too!! It makes backcountry communication so much better and there are some incredible stories of them saving lives because of this. AND chairlift jokes are also key as well as finding your friends in the glades.”

– Kelly G. Ski Patrol Director and Outdoor Emergency Care Instructor

Hardware Store Lined Leather Gloves

As dirtbags, sometimes the best pieces of winter gear are the ones that don’t come with a fancy label. We are all about innovation here at Outdoor ProLink. So if the glove fits, use it!

“Hardware store lined leather driver gloves. Buy them on the small/tight side, use Obenaufs boot wax. Once they get wet they’ll stretch to fit your hands… I usually have 2-3 pairs of hardware store drivers for skiing, working, dog walking. I live in them all winter unless it gets cold enough for mitts.”

– Phillip K. Outdoor Prolink Gear Tester

La Sportiva Capo Skis

Who else is ready to earn their turns?

“The 2021 La Sportiva Capo skis are getting me stoked for Winter, I’ve been skiing them since March. Super fun, light powder skis.”

-Reid P. Ski Guide

The Tent You’ve Had for Eons and STILL Keeps You Cozy

“37-year-old NorthFace VE-24 I bought new in ‘83 and still use for fall & winter camping…won’t do winter without it.”

– Dave V. Outdoor Prolink Gear Tester

Now THAT’S a tent that lasts!
Yellowstone February 1985

The Rab Infinity Light

Winter Pro Tip #1: Don’t ever leave home without your favorite puffy.

“The Rab Infinity Light is the puffy of all puffies. Kept me nice in toasty up in Alberta last winter when they hit -40F. Great zippers and it makes for a nice belay jacket.”

– Ben D. Outdoor Prolink Gear Tester

Other hot suggestions from our team include the Rab wool hooded shirts and the Rab Microlight Puffy.

A Foam Seating Pad

“Foam butt/standing pad. I cut some from a 1st gen Z-Rest that works great. I’ve even used it under my hip when I used a sleeping pad that wasn’t thick enough. I have a 2-section version and a 4-section. Pads can also be used for splints.”

– Mark L. Recreation Leader, Outdoor Educator, SAR Member, and Ski Patroller

Hydroflask Insulated Water Bottle with a Hot Beverage

“Hydroflask insulated water bottle full of hot tea! Makes any frigid dawn patrol or long ice climbing day so much better.”

– Leanne T. Product Design Engineer

We also love to fill our thermoses up with soup. Nothing beats a hot, refreshing meal while you’re out on the ice!

Now you’ve got a lineup of absolute essential winter outdoor gear. What’s your most coveted piece of winter gear? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
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Meg Atteberry is a full-time freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Her mission is to empower others to get outside and have an adventure. She loves a sunny crag and delicious trail snacks. When she’s not wordsmithing you can find her hiking, climbing, and mountaineering all over the world with her fiancé and adventure pup, Nina. To learn more about Meg, check out her blog Fox in the Forest. She’d rather be dirty than done up.

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