8 Gifts for People Who Love the Outdoors but Hate the Cold

Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. shares her top recommendations for gifts to keep your favorite cold-phobics warm and happy in the winter.

Photo by Adam Chang
Published on

If you are anything like me (a native of Los Angeles), then you know that enjoying the outdoors in the winter can be a difficult task. I love sweaters and big sweatpants and puffy jackets, but having cold hands, toes, or ears is probably my least favorite feeling. In my attempt to make winter excursions more fun and less cold, I researched these products to see what would keep me warm and happy (hint: they all make excellent gifts).

Insulated Mug

Hydro Flask Mug
Hydro Flask Mug

An insulated mug to keep your liquids hot is a must. Drinking hot coffee, tea, or in my case hot water, before bed and when I wake up is true bliss. Drinking hot liquids, whatever your choice is, is a great way to warm up your body. (Pro tip: also helps you wilderpoo!) I was gifted a Hydro Flask Mug and although it is a bit heavier than other options, it is my go-to mug every day.

Hand and Foot Warmers

Zippo Hand Warmer
Zippo Hand Warmer

Hand and foot warmers, need I say more? Although these are not the most sustainable option because they are only one-use items, they add extra pockets of warmth when your fingers or toes start going numb. I put these in my jacket pockets or in my socks/hiking boots, or will just throw them in my sleeping bag and hold on for dear life. The Little Hotties toe warmers and hand warmers are great options. This Zippo Hand Warmer is a more sustainable option—it comes with a two-year warranty and everything else you need to keep those fingers warm.

Wool Socks

Darn Tough Steely Boot Sock Cushion
Darn Tough Steely Boot Sock Cushion

Socks! So important! I remember when I was backpacking through Germany and stopped in town for a day. It was especially cold that day and I thought my socks would help keep me warm. About four hours later I almost started crying from the cold, my toes had gone numb, and I forced my way inside to warm up and find better socks. If I don’t wear the wool socks my grandmother knit me, then any Darn Tough Sock is my top choice. I really like these Darn Tough Steely Boot Sock Cushions in particular. They have a nice padding for extra comfort as well.

Insulated Winter Hiking Boots

Outdoor Research Women's Warli Sky Tundra Aerogel Booties
Outdoor Research Women's Warli Sky Tundra Aerogel Booties

Insulated boots are another excellent way to stay warm and happy in the winter. I enjoy all things Merrell brand, like these Merrell Thermo Freeze Boots, but here are a few other options that are great insulating boots. The Vasque Snowblime Ultradry Boots is a really good choice, and these Outdoor Research Boots are great for hanging around at camp or for longer drives in cold temps.

Puffy

Cotopaxi Nina Jacket
Cotopaxi Nina Jacket

A good jacket is one of the most luxurious and important investments you can make. Cotopaxi makes some of my favorite gear because it is such high quality and made with sustainability in mind. The Cotopaxi Nina Jacket is a great parka-length jacket that I recommend. This Arc’teryx is a hip-length, down puffy. It is lightweight, packs down small, and will 100% boost your enjoyment of being outside in the cold.

Sleeping Pad and Sleeping Bag or Quilt

Mountain Hardwear Women's Rook 0F/-18C Sleeping Bag
Mountain Hardwear Women's Rook 0F/-18C Sleeping Bag

If you choose to camp in the winter, then a good sleep system is a must; temperatures drop overnight when the sun sets, and you want to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. When it comes to sleeping pads, the higher the R-value the better. That simply means that there is more insulation. This Mountain Equipment Aerostat Down Mat has an R-value of five, weighs just over a pound, and is great for very cold temperatures. It is three inches thick, so side sleepers rejoice!

When looking to get a sleeping bag, I always advise to get a bag that has a temperature rating for at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the temperature expected. This Mountain Hardwear Rook Sleeping Bag is rated for 0 degrees and is a lot more budget-friendly compared to other bags with similar ratings. It also weighs just under three pounds and has 650-fill-power down.

If you are a hammock camper, then a good underquilt and overquilt are equivalent to a good pad and bag. This Sea to Summit Ember Down Quilt is rated for 20 degrees, has a more rectangular shape, and can be used in a hammock or paired with a sleeping pad for ground dwellers.

Four-Season Tent

Black Diamond Hilight Tent
Black Diamond Hilight Tent

A four-season tent isn’t always necessary, depending on where and when you are going to camp. But if you hate the winter like me, and want a tent that will shield you from the outside as much as possible, then a four-season tent is great to have. This Black Diamond Hilight Tent is lightweight, packs small, and is sturdy, reliable, and durable. An additional vestibule will add another layer of protection and create more space to store your gear. This tent and vestibule come in two and three-person sizes.

Blanket

Ruffwear Clear Lake Blanket
Ruffwear Clear Lake Blanket

A nice blanket is a luxury. If you want to bring a blanket to pair with your sleeping bag, the Ruffwear Blanket is definitely the one I would recommend. I not only use this for my dog, but also for myself as well, if she doesn’t want to sleep with it or we are cuddling. I love items that can be used in multiple ways: dog’s sleeping blanket, or an extra blanket for me. It is heavier at 2.1 pounds; however, my dog normally has it in her pack or I can throw it in the car if we aren’t backpacking. This RAB Wilderness Quilt is another great option for a lightweight, packable, warm blanket.

More Tips

Here are some other tips to enjoy camping, hiking, or doing anything else outside while staying warm. First off, cuddle! Sharing body heat is a great way to be close to loved ones and share the warmth.

Another obvious one, but layer your clothes. A midweight base layer, a thermal, a fleece, sweatshirt, and puffy are all solid options. Bring more layers than you think you will need, if you can. You will not be sad that you did. Accessories like gloves, scarves, and beanies will help too.

Boil water, put it in a water bottle, and hold it or put it in your sleeping bag. I like to put my hot water bottle either at my feet or I cuddle it. Just make sure the lid is closed super tight, you don’t want it spilling (read: don’t want hypothermia).

If you’re camping, set up your tent in a spot where the sun will hit it first thing in the morning.

Eat more calories than you think you need. If you are hungry, your body has to work a lot harder at keeping you warm. So eat that cookie, dip those chips in hummus, or chow down on another peanut butter and jelly. If you want some more recipe ideas, check out this article on eating vegan on the trail.

Photo by Katie McBroom

Last but not least, wilderpee. Your body works really hard to warm up your pee. I know that getting out of your comfy sleeping bag in the cold sounds like torture, but you will thank me later.

Have any other tips to enjoy winter outside? Have a favorite product I didn’t list? Need any help finding the right gift for the outdoor enthusiast in your life? Reach out to me or one of my fellow Camping & Hiking experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations. We also offer the option of a Curated gift card which can be used towards making an outdoor gift purchase with free expert help finding the right gear.

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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