(The Gear Loop) - The onset of winter brings with it the promise of a new season for epic outdoor adventure. Hiking in Britain’s high hills, free-riding down Alpine peaks, ski-touring through back country in the Rockies – the possibilities are endless.
But hitting the wilds in winter (or any time of year for that matter) is a serious business, and it’s important to be well prepared. Getting kitted out with the right gear to stay warm, safe and comfortable and make the most of any chosen activity is the first step to having the best experience, time and again.
And with Christmas looming large on the calendar, now is the perfect time to give your outdoors-loving loved ones something to facilitate those very adventures.
But there’s a mind-boggling array of stuff to choose from, with price points ranging wildly from the suspiciously cheap to the offensively pricey. To save you doing the research and due diligence, we’ve put together a combination of the best outdoor gear to stash under the three this year.
Combined, it creates the ultimate outdoor ensemble for any adventure, but each individual item should provide the perfect present to plug any gap in the kit list of the ones you love, from the best thermal layering clothes to the safest avalanche survival systems.
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The best Christmas gifts for winter sports lovers
Anon Toric M4 Goggles
Toric lens goggles give a wider field of view and better peripheral vision than standard lenses, meaning you can see more of where you are with less glare in bright lit environments. Crucial in tricky terrain.
The M4 incorporates Anon’s Magna-Tech quick lens-change system that holds lenses firmly in place with magnets, making them quick and easy to swap out as conditions change – and they’re also compatible with cylindrical lenses. Also included, an MFI face mask also connects magnetically to the goggles for seamless fog-free face coverage.
Carv Digital Ski Coach
Wearable tech is slowly getting good enough to pay serious attention to and Carv now falls firmly into that category, following years of development from a successful Kickstarter campaign way back in 2018.
A ski boot insole teaming with 72 pressure and motion sensors, the package pairs with an app and membership program to collate a ridiculous amount of data taken in real time while skiing and transform it into a comprehensive combination of real-time audio coaching, performance score (aka Ski IQ) and deeper analysis.
If your loved one loves the likes of Strava, you’ll love Carv and your skiing will only thank you for it.
From £278 | Buy direct from Carv
Dahu Écorce 01X Boot
At last, a clever technical adaptation that keeps feet secure and comfy both during and après ski. The Swiss-made hybrid Écorce 01X (available in men’s and women’s) transitions easily from ski boot to walking boot and does both brilliantly.
The outer ski boot shell is made from Grilamid and carbon fibre for exceptional energy transfer, with a super precise tightening system and foot support that means they work under even the most demanding skiing conditions.
The inner Cambium boot mixes the best performing synthetic materials with Nubuck leather from the Italian San Marco tannery making them comfy and light, while the ankle and tongue padding are 3D moulded to fit the foot perfectly.
Smith Level MIPS Helmet
Perhaps the most important part of any outdoor adventure kit, the best modern helmets combine style and functionality with the very latest advances in safety. The Smith Level uses zonal Koroyd coverage for the best impact absorption along with a MIPS liner that reduces the rotational impact that can cause brain injuries should the worst happen.
Importantly, it also works on a day-to-day functional level. An adjustable ventilation system will keep your head warm or cool depending on your effort and a particularly plush liner with dial controlled fit means it always sits snug on the head. The consummate all-rounder.
Lenz Heat Sock 6.1 Toe Cap Merino Compression
Socks are an easy area to overlook when it comes to technical functionality, but they can make a critical difference on a long day working muscles hard in cold and challenging conditions.
The latest from Lenz blends super technical build with the added option to heat feet using a compatible lithium battery pack, which attaches to the sock cuff using press studs (which you’ll need to buy separately but that can be used with other Lenz heated kit).
Ultra thin with compression knitting, toe and heel protectors and 35 per cent merino wool content, they’ll keep feet warm and muscles moving all day without getting sweaty and uncomfortable.
Mammut Free 22 Airbag 3.0
Big enough to carry everything you need and fully equipped with Mammut’s Airbag System 3.0 technology, this backpack is the perfect partner for a day trip off piste no matter the conditions. The avalanche system is one of the lightest available and is removable for when it’s not needed.
A smartly positioned array of loops and straps can carry skis, poles and helmet, with inner compartments for essential avalanche rescue equipment. Inspired by trail running vests, the carry system and 3D moulded back panel keep it ultra-comfortable and secure in all conditions.
The Man Behind The Maps: Legendary Ski Artist James Niehues
As coffee table books go, they don’t get more interesting or appealing for skiers than James Niehues’ extraordinary The Man Behind The Maps. In a world gone digital, Niehues showcases his unique and dying craft across more than 200 beautifully hand-painted maps of iconic US ski resorts.
Not just beautiful to look at, these trail maps are so accurate that millions of people still use them today to navigate unnamed parts of mountains, helping keep alive the original mountain experience.
And on days away from the mountains, they bring the trails to life like little else.
Ortovox Rescue Set Diract Voice Light
Essential for any off-piste or back country excursion in snow, this avalanche emergency kit brings the latest rescue technology in the lightest materials.
Alongside the aluminium avalanche probe and shovel, the Diract Voice receiver provides voice navigation in nine languages.
Using the latest Smart Antenna technology, the receiver analyses its location in the event it’s caught in an avalanche and picks the best transmitting antenna to improve chances of being found.
Voice navigation makes it quicker and easier for rescuers to locate and retrieve victims in very high pressure situations and it works down to -20°C. Life-saving kit.
Yeti Rambler 18oz Bottle
Hydration is important and a hydration vest takes care of water needs better than most things when on the hoof. But when out in the cold, this vacuum bottle from Yeti serves up piping hot coffee or chocolate (nip of rum optional) to warm the cockles in the remotest places.
A stainless steel rust and puncture-resistant casing and leakproof Hotshot Cap mean it can be thrown in a backpack safe in the knowledge it won’t spill a drop.
Arc’teryx Fission SV Glove
This unisex glove is designed for the toughest conditions – that SV in the name standing for Severe Weather, in case you were in any doubt.
The Gore-Tex insert is waterproof and breathable, while dedicated layers of PrimaLoft and OctaLoft insulation keep hands dry and warm.
Elasticated wrist straps and pull open/closed gauntlets also seal out errant rain and powder. On the outside, the smart black look is reinforced with a double layer of goat leather that will last season after season.