All of the gear in our 2021 Winter Gear Guide is designed to excel in cold-weather conditions. That said, there are a number of products that really turn up the heat, so I scoured the 85 items in the guide to bring you the ones that provide maximum protection from the cold. When I head out on a winter trek, this is the gear I’m carrying to keep me comfortable both on the trail and in camp. It’s not everything you need for fourth-season adventuring—check out the guide for the rest—but these five products will give you a head start on beating bone-chilling temps.
Get the best gear of the year in Backpacker’s 2022 Winter Gear Guide.
Mountain Equipment Trango Jacket
A large puffy is essential for keeping warm during breaks or in camp, and this one offers double the protection for double the fun. The Trango uses two types of insulation to keep you in the comfort zone. Its 700-fill down baffles are augmented by an aluminum-coated interior fabric that reflects body heat back on the wearer. This heat-hoarding puffy kept us warm down to -11°F on New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington, aided by draft baffles on the zippers, a full-coverage hood, and adjustable cuffs. Read the full review
Kelty Cosmic Ultra 0°F
Sleeping cold is many hikers’ biggest fear in winter, and for good reason. One solution: This bag, which nails a trifecta of winter-worthy attributes. The Cosmic Ultra is warm, roomy, and packable; trapezoidal baffles and a beefy collar seal in heat, and generous proportions mean that hours spent tucked inside it won’t be so claustrophobic. Its 800-fill down insulation packs down to a size you can carry on multiday treks, and (bonus!) it’s on the reasonable side, price-wise, for a 0°F sack. Read the full review
Merrell Thermo Rogue 3 Mid GTX
Your feet are the parts of your body that have the most direct contact with snow, so you better make sure they’re adequately insulated. The Thermo Rogue uses aerogel—an ultralight, ultrainsulating materials—surrounding the toe box and PrimaLoft Gold Eco insulation everywhere else to keep your most important hiking asset from turning into ice blocks. New for this year, an updated version of Vibram Arctic Grip on the outsole and a unique lug pattern allow the Thermo Rogue 3 to dig in with an ever better grip on snow, ice, and slush. Read the full review
Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge
In extremely cold environments, you should even deputize your shell to help retain body heat. While the Boundary Ridge excels where every winter hardshell should—its three-layer, waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex fabric keeps precipitation and wind out—it also offers a bit more than the average shell in the warmth department: An interior tricot backer adds a bit of thickness and a large bump in coziness. Along with a midlayer and baselayer underneath, the Boundary Ridge is an integral part of a layering system designed for frigid, wet environments. Read the full review
Gordini Front Line GTX Mitt
Hands are often the first parts of your body to feel the bite of low temps, so it’s critical to protect them as much as you do your core. This mitten kept our digits from frosting over at 0°F, but the Front Line isn’t some ultrabulky expedition product. PrimaLoft Gold insulation and a Gore-Tex liner kept warmth in and snow out, all in a streamlined package that’s relatively light. You can also remove the inner lining to wear on its own for warmer, drier days. Read the full review