This is the perfect time of year to buy cold-weather gear. Retailers are already thinking of beach towels, flip-flops, and sun hats, which means that all the fleece pullovers and long underwear left on the shelf are ready and waiting to replace the worn-out ones you’re still stuffing into your duffel bag and dragging up the hill.
If you’ve spent the last four months examining the burn holes in the front of your puffy jacket, you can now score massive deals on winter gear and cold-weather clothing. Or have you already skipped ahead to summer? Don’t forget to check out the rest of our buying guides, from the Best Barefoot Shoes to the Best Everyday Sun Protection Clothing.
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Head over to our guides on the Best Snow Gear for Spring Skiing and Best Gear for Skiing and Snowboarding for more ideas.
Sweet Protection is a heavyweight brand among outdoor sports helmets for the gear’s proven protection and durability. MIPS stands for multi-directional impact protection system, which consists of an inner layer that allows your head to rotate within the shell of the helmet to reduce rotational force on the brain.
These are primarily ski and snowboard goggles, but you can use them for any snow sport. I use them for mountain climbing. The ChromaPop lens provides sharp, clear contrast for spotting hazards and dips in the snow. They’ve given me no problems with fogging or their field of vision, and they’re comfortable enough to wear for hours on end.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it. But if you ski or snowboard in the backcountry, it’s a good idea to carry an avalanche beacon, in case you get caught in one. The Evo4 is an entry-level model from a reputable company. Just don’t forget to turn it on.
Snow-loving parents pay a premium price for sleds at the beginning of the season. If you have little kids that are too small for renting snow tubes, this is a good option.
You have definitely lost at least one pair of ski socks by now. We love Icebreaker for their warmth and durability. REI also has kids’ ski socks ($10, $4 off), if it pains you to pay full price for a pair that your daughter will outgrow in a year.
Your ski or snowboard wax is probably wearing off by now. If you don’t want to take your gear to a shop, you can try ironing on your own wax. Don’t forget a scraper ($8) to go with it.
Check out our guide to the Best Hiking Gear to Get You Started. We also have guides to the Best Tents and Best Camping Gear for setting up a home away from home in the woods, desert, and plains.
Lightweight day packs were once a thing of niche manufacturers and high prices. These days, none top REI’s own 22-liter pack. The Flash 18 ($30) is also a good pack, but I prefer the 22’s two exterior water bottle pockets and padded shoulder straps, and it still only weighs 13 ounces, versus the 18’s 9 ounces.
Four-season tents, such as the Tasmanian, replace much of the mesh on three-season tents’ inner walls with solid (but breathable) fabric for greater protection against the cold. If there’s frost on the grass in the morning, you don’t want it inside the tent. The Tasmanian is a tight fit for two people who keep their packs outside, under the vestibule, at night. Or it can sleep one person with plenty of spare room.
Hydro Flask makes some of my favorite insulated water bottles. They do a fantastic job of keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold all day. The powder coating is among the most scratch- and chip-resistant of all reusable water bottles on the market, and they stand up well to long-term abuse without breaking.
This is one of the more fun innovations in beverage containment that we’ve seen in a while. Slide the TPU sleeve on the bottom to have a 12-ounce coffee cup; rinse it out and put the sleeve on the rim to turn it into a can or bottle koozie.
Senior product reviewer Scott Gilbertson liked the larger, six-person Kingdom 6 quite a lot, calling it the best family camping tent he’s ever owned. The Kingdom 4 is a bit smaller and designed to sleep four people, but it’s made from the same combination of thick 75-denier and 150-denier fabrics for durability. We’ve heard rumors that REI will soon replace the Kingdom series, so now is the time to replace yours if you love it.
Unless you’re absolutely aiming to have the lowest weight possible, ditch the water purification drops and tablets and go with a water filter. The Grayl is a filter and a bottle, all in one. You fill it up, press down the plunger, and have 16 fluid ounces of potable water within 15 seconds. The filter lasts for 300 pints. You could also take the Grayl hiking or traveling, since it weighs only 10.9 ounces.
Once you set up camp, give yourself (and a close friend or partner) a relaxing perch in the air. The DoubleNest Hammock fits two adults for a combined weight rating of 400 pounds, and when you’re ready to pack up and head for home, it stuffs into the included stuff sack and goes down to the size of a grapefruit.
This is one of the recommended items in my Guide to the Best Home Emergency Gear, but it pulls double-duty as a camping lantern. Aside from the flashing mode, there’s a low 50-lumen mode for preserving battery life and a high 425-lumen mode for when you want a ton of light. Generally, I use the low-power mode, since it’s bright enough to read by and the three D-cell batteries will last up to 330 hours on low mode.
If you’ve ever camped with a table, it can be hard to go without. This one weighs 9 pounds and measures 28 inches by 28 inches, which will fit two diners (or four, in a pinch). If you need more room, the Regular Junction table is on sale for $70 ($30 off) and measures 43 inches by 28 inches.
Check out our guide on How to Layer Outdoor Clothing for tips on where insulated jackets should fit into your clothing system, along with our guide to the Best Winter Base Layers for more recommendations.
I prefer synthetic-insulation puffies like the Featherless Hoody in damp or snowy environments where temperatures can hover around freezing because they dry out faster than goose down. There’s also a hoodless version for $131 ($44 off) if you’re not a fan of hoods flopping behind your head.
High-loft pile fleece is coming back. Early polyester fleece material was very fluffy, like a shag rug. The Retro-X is your chance to wear a classic, like the fleece from the late ’70s and ’80s. Because it traps more air in its long fibers, pile fleece tends to be very warm. The women’s version is also on sale for the same price.
The Fuego is packed with 800-fill goose down, which is treated with a durable water-repellent finish to help lessen the amount of moisture it absorbs. Fill power is a way of measuring the warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility of the goose down. A high number (such as the Fuego’s 800) means it’ll be warmer than a garment with a lower number and can compress down smaller in your pack. The men’s hoodie is also on sale, and there are hoodless versions available for women and men.
Most flannels, even from outdoor apparel companies, tend to be made of cotton. Not so with the Sahara. It’s a blend of polyester (mostly) and nylon, with a little Spandex for stretchability, which means it has 50 SPF sun protection and will dry out much more quickly than a cotton shirt. Senior editor Adrienne So has this shirt and loves it.
The down sweater is made of Bluesign-approved recycled polyester ripstop fabric, stuffed with 800-fill-power goose down. There’s a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment on the outer fabric, but this still isn’t a jacket to wear through a downpour. If you’re going to wear it out in the rain, throw a rain jacket over it. The men’s version is on sale, too.
Rainwear and Accessory Deals
Keep your head dry by heading over to our guide on the Best Rain Jackets for more of our favorite ways to enjoy—or at least make it through—those rainy spring days.
Bogs is based in the Pacific Northwest, so the company knows a thing or two about warm, dry feet. If you live in a rainy climate, you probably have a pair or two already. Bogs is also posting a 40 percent clearance sale on its website.
We generally feel safe going maskless outside, but if you need to pop into the lodge, wet snow and rain and disposable masks do not mix. The Outdoor Research mask fits well and folds down easily into a pocket. Check out our list of the Best Face Masks for more.
The MicroGravity (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a lightweight, three-layer shell designed for climbing. Its helmet-compatible hood and ability to pack down into its own pocket make it a worthwhile addition to your climbing or hiking pack, but it’ll also serve you well on rainy days in the city. The men’s version is on sale for $199.
For beanies, I’m a huge fan of merino wool over itchy, stuffy synthetic fleece. Merino wool is warm and breathable at the same time. Smartwool makes my favorite beanies, and this mid-weight noggin sock will keep your head and ears warm for hours out on the slopes.
A long-running Patagonia staple, the Torrentshell is now made of Bluesign-approved, recycled fabrics. It still weighs less than a pound and packs down into its own pocket, so you can tuck it into a small pack or your car’s glovebox and always have it handy. The fleece-lined neck offers a bit of luxury on those drizzly days when you need to pull the hood up over your head. The women’s version is on sale for the same price.
The Lite Hikers aren’t the thickest, warmest socks Wigwam offers, but you may not always want an ultra-thick sock, even in cold weather. Some people’s feet run hot, especially if they’re doing intensive activities, such as hiking. I’ve used Wigwam socks on and off over the years, and I’ve been impressed by how long a pair will last.
If you don’t see anything you like here, now is the time to check out your favorite outdoor gear manufacturer. Here are a few of our favorites.
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