Winter, as the cliche goes, is coming. No one wants to be caught out in the cold, or make a rookie error by bringing summer gear to a snowy retreat. Good job, then, that we have reporters hailing from colder corners of the globe. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to make sure you’re ready for adventure, no matter what the weather throws at you and a few extras to make sure you stay safe (and hydrated).
Leatherman Free P4
We have recommended the Leatherman Free P4 countless times. And that’s probably not going to change any time soon. A multitool is a necessity for any outdoorsy type or DIY enthusiast on your shopping list. And we think the Free P4 is the best option out there for most people. It’s reasonably compact, rugged and loaded with useful tools -- 21 in total. But the real standout feature is the opening and locking mechanism. The Free lineup is one of the few multitools we’ve seen where you can open up almost everything with a single hand. And then everything locks in place to make sure you don’t accidentally close the blade on your fingers. If you want to save a few bucks the $120 P2 is also an excellent choice, but we think the P4 is worth the extra $20 which includes a saw and has two knives -- a straight blade and a serrated one.
BCA Tracker 3 Avalanche Transceiver
Nothing says happy holidays like a gift that could actually save someone’s life. If there’s a skier or snowboarder on your list, they absolutely need to have an avalanche transceiver. If they don’t have one yet (or if theirs is a little old and unreliable) snag them the Tracker 3 from BCA. While the company has announced the newer Tracker 4, the third generation model is every bit as capable, slightly cheaper at $350 and, most importantly, actually available to purchase. Just as important, it can be used to locate other trackers, in case they’re with a group and a rescue team is still a ways out.
Black Diamond Spot 350
The Black Diamond Spot 325 used to be our bang-for-your-buck headlamp recommendation. But the upgraded Spot 350 has easily replaced it. It still gets up to 200 hours on three AAA batteries and is IPX 8 rated so hiking in a downpour shouldn’t be a problem. But the new model is brighter (350 lumens versus 325), smaller and lighter. Plus the redesigned interface makes it much easier to switch between the five different lighting modes. The full brightness lamp has both near and far modes, there’s a low-power dim light, strobe and a red beam for saving your giftees eyes at night.
Even if you’re not shopping for an avid hiker, we’re sure someone on your list could use a headlamp. They come in handy for home repairs and are nice to have on hand in the event of a blackout. This is basically a universal gift.
GoPro Hero 9 Black
GoPro has been synonymous with outdoor adventure since its very first camera. The Hero 9 Black is no different. If you’re looking for a gift for someone that’s either an adrenaline junky or an outdoor addict, it’s the perfect choice. The Hero 9 Black has all the features you’d expect from a GoPro, but with an all new sensor for sharper images and video. The built-in stabilization is so good all their adventures will look cinematic right out of the camera and the all-new front-facing screen will mean they’re selfie shots will be perfectly framed.
Polar Pro ND filters for GoPro
If you’re looking for some accessories to go with the GoPro (above) or the person you’re buying for already has a camera, these neutral density (ND) filters from Polar Pro are a great pick. In the simplest terms, they are like shades for your GoPro, which will stop the camera trying to compensate for too much light by ramping up the shutter speed. High shutter speeds are the scourge of action video as they create an unnatural, jittery image. However, with this three-pack from Polar Pro (for a range of different lighting scenarios) all your videos will look smooth and cinematic. It’s possibly one of the easiest ways to improve the quality of a GoPro’s video.
Especially if the person you’re buying for loves to ski or mountain bike, these filters will make the action look faster, thanks to the motion blur effect they create. This is far more immersive than something recorded in bright light without a filter. They’re easy to install, too -- simply twist off the GoPro’s included lens cover, and replace it with the filter of your choice. For the more advanced user, they’ll be pleased with the up-to 5 stops of control (they’ll know what this means).
Peak Design Tech Pouch
Memory cards? Check. Selection of USB cables? Got ‘em. Rugged hard drive (see elsewhere in this guide)? You get it, the outdoor tech lover has a lot of accessories to bring along. That’s why the Tech Pouch from Peak Design is the perfect do-it-all carry case for all the gear they need to bring along for the perfect tech-fueled trip.
The myriad “origami” style pockets are ideal for storing cables, SD cards and even battery packs, and a clever design even allows you to feed a charging cable through so they can juice their gear while on the move. Importantly, the weather resistant material keeps things dry and the compact design is perfect for slipping into your carry on luggage.
Peak Design Travel Tripod
Grabbing a sunset timelapse at the top of a mountain takes a lot of time and patience, so you’re going to need a good tripod. Enter, the Travel Tripod from Peak Design. As the name suggests, it’s designed specifically for photographers on the move. The lightweight design folds down to a compact, manageable size, but doesn’t sacrifice stability and maximum payload (20lbs) in the process.
What sets the Travel Tripod apart from other (often cheaper) rivals are the little details. Peak Design cleverly his a mobile mount inside one of the poles so you can get steady shots even with your phone. There’s also just a single adjustment ring, so the adventurer in your life won’t have to navigate multiple confusing screws and dials.
Mujjo Touchscreen Gloves
Winter and the outdoors means chilly digits. That’s not good when you need to use your phone or touchscreen device. While there are many screen-friendly gloves on the market, we like Mujjo’s more affordable options for the perfect balance of style and price. We like that there are a few options so that you can find something that goes with any winter wardrobe. If your outdoor-loving loved one is more of a polar explorer, there are insulated (and double insulated) options, too.
G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD
The holidays are all about making memories. In this day and age, memory is more about megabytes than Uncle Ron’s impressive baked ham, and that’s why nothing says “I love you” more than gifting them 1TB of rugged storage. The G-Drive Mobile SSD is our pick as it has everything you need from an external drive, such as solid state storage and USB-C for speedy transfers. Importantly, for those that love the great outdoors, it’s also weather proof with and IP67 rating and the makers (part of Western Digital) claim it can take tumbles of up to three meters and is crushproof to 1,000 lbs. That sounds more like a challenge to us.
Wagan Travel Mug
What better way to mark the end a day in the elements than with a hot brew. The Travel Mug might not be the smartest beverage container out there, but it’s 12v car connection is all that’s needed to make this the moderately clever mug of choice. It’s enough to heat up a brew in 30 minutes (or a ready made one for two hours when not plugged in). It’s also BPA free and designed to be the perfect fit in most vehicle cup holders.
Columbia Men's Three Forks Black Dot Jacket
If your giftee is sensitive to the cold (or just likes to go where it’s really cold) then the Three Forks Black Dot jacket from Columbia is the ultimate remedy. At $280, it’s a little on the spendy side, but for every dollar there’s likely to be about three degrees of heat in return. Okay, maybe not that much, but the Black Dot technology comprises black aluminum “dots” that Columbia claims will soak up both scattered and direct sunlight. And the reflective internal lining will make the recipient feel like they’re wearing something with astronaut credentials.
Beyond acting like a sponge for sunlight, there are plenty of pockets of all shapes and sizes to store all their other tech (safe and warm, naturally). This includes one very deep inside pocket that by our reckoning could fit a winter-warming bottle of whiskey.