The Outdoor Adventurists Winter Gear Wish List for Christmas

I love gear.

I love reading about gear, I love looking at gear and I love owning gear. I am a self-confessed gearhead.

And this is my winter gear wish list for Christmas.

Outdoor gear is personal. No two people are going to want the same things to add to their pile of adventure equipment. (For those wondering, I keep it all stored in tubs in my spare closet in my apartment).

Plus, gear is expensive. It’s something you accumulate over time, not all at once. I try to be clever and only purchase something when it goes on sale or on end-of-season clearouts. But it’s hard to keep the materialistic monster away from my credit card when there are so many things I want (and kind of need).

For those who are curious, here are the top items I would love to add to my current selection of winter gear:

1. Gear Bag

Don’t tell Santa, but I already bought the bag before Christmas.

Particularly in winter, there is so much gear to carry: ski pants, winter jacket, mitts, toques, buffs, ski boots, snowboard boots, hiking boots, and snowshoes. And that’s only half of it (and not counting anything if I’m winter camping). I tried to carry it all in several reusable shopping bags but it gets a little ridiculous. A nice gear bag, like this wheeled duffle bag for $59.99 online/$47.99 in store from Costco, has multiple sections and pockets. It easily fits a mix of my gear, boots and winter camping accessories. It makes my life a lot more organized.

2 Outer Shell

I love this FXR softshell, but it’s more for casual wear than active wear.

I’ve been eyeing up a proper Arc’teryx Gortex shell for overtop my winter layers for years. But they are so expensive (think $500+). So I need to make sure I have the perfect fit, style and colour if I’m going to drop some cash like that. It also depends what you want to use it for (mountaineering versus ice climbing versus skiing versus all-around). But it would be perfect for adding to my collection and helping me stay warm while active. Maybe boxing day will throw some good deals my way.

3. Mid-weight (Down) Jacket
Everyone seems to own an active-wear down jacket these days. I don’t like the look of them. But this year, The North Face launched a breathable and insulated jacket called the Ventrix that is a perfect winter layer. I get pretty sweaty when out running and skiing so this is the ideal jacket to have on over my layers. Unfortunately, I’m between a small and medium so will wait to see if sizes change before I purchase one.

4. More Merino Wool Baselayers

I lived in this mid-weight merino wool piece in South America. It looks really light but packs a punch in terms of heat. Still my favourite go-to piece I own.

You seriously can’t own enough of this stuff. I swear by merino wool for both summer and winter adventures. As it comes in different weights and percentages it’s perfect for multiple seasons. My socks are wool, my buffs are wool, my underlayers are wool. And I sleep only in merino wool. My favourite part is that I can wear the same shirt for several days and it never smells bad. (I do that all the time while backcountry adventuring. No sense carrying an entire bag full of heavy clothes. Keep it simple and use only two changes of clothes and something to sleep in.) Brands I recommend? The North Face, Icebreaker, Kirkland, Smartwool and any brand that has a killer sale.

5. Winter Sleeping Bag

I didn’t want to get out of the sleeping bag. It was heaven.

I’ve been doing more and more winter camping lately and I still don’t have a proper sleeping bag. But I’m fussy. I want the right bag for the right weather, for the right weight for the right price. I tried my friend Andrew’s -29C Aleutian North Face the other night and slept like a baby. It was a puffy, cozy dream. However, it’s just a bit too big to carry on a backcountry adventure.

I’ve been trying to find the perfect sleeping bag that’s packable and lightweight but will keep me warm to at least -15C outside. I’ve been keeping an eye on the -7C Cat’s Meow from the North Face. The men’s version is more packable than the women’s. But I love the extra padding they’ve included for females. Currently undecided and will hope for season sales.

6. Mittens with Fold Over Fingers

It’s very hard to see but these mittens were amazing. I still wear the one even after I lost its mate. I just match it with a different glove.

When I was in Bolivia I bought a pair of hand-sewn wool mittens for $10 that were life changing. They were that mid-90’s style where a section folds over your fingers. But these had one additional change. The thumb part folded over as well. I bought them to survive the diverse temperatures while hiking in the mountains and in the Atacama desert. Then I brought them home and continued to use them for photography and any time I headed out to run errands. And then I took them to Antarctica with me and I lost one somewhere. I was pretty devastated and haven’t replaced them yet.

7. Buffs

Look at most winter photos of me and I’m wearing either a scarf or a buff.

A girl can never have too many buffs. If you’re not sure what buffs are, they’re essentially a neck warmer. They’re a tubular piece of material (usually merino wool but can vary from cotton to fleece) that easily slides up to cover your nose, be worn as a headband, as a toque or… well there are about 20 different ways you can wear them. And I hardly ever go outside without throwing one around my neck. Most photos I post in the winter have me wearing one I’ve picked up at running events for free (so they have all sorts of strange advertising on them.) They’re not cheap and hardly ever go on sale. So I’m considering making my own to save money but trying to figure out how to sew it without a seam.

8. Skate Skis

I love classic skiing. But skate skiing seems a lot more active!

I have officially fallen in love with cross-country skiing. Except, I only own a pair of classic skis yet want to get into skate skiing. Classic is what most people think of and are generally used in groomed tracks side-by-side. Skate skiing offers more leg movement and looks like skating when performed correctly. The skis, boots and poles are all different from classic skis. I bought a pair of classic skis for only $300 all-in on a spring sale a few years ago. This year, I’m hoping to find a pair of used skate skis or hit up another spring sale and wait until next year to use them.

9. Snowshoes

I don’t really love snowshoeing. It takes so much more effort than skiing and there is no satisfying glide. But it’s one of the only ways to access an area with high amounts of snow so it’s kind of necessary to add to my gear list. Thankfully Costco has my back again with sets starting at $80 including poles.


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