Buying a gift for an outdoors-person is a tough task. (Usually, we're geared up already.) So what should you buy? We've done the grunt work for you with this awesome list of five essentials—fully tested and approved.
Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiter
Why Buy: These gaiters boast impressive fabric technology. Sure, they’re tough enough to stand up to crampon-strikes, they zip-on quickly and they fit snugly—but the Schoeller C_Change material is the showpiece. The fabric’s weave responds to fluctuating temperatures, opening when it’s warmer to enhance breathability and closing tighter in colder conditions to retain heat.
Who For: The backcountry skier; the alpinist.
Oboz Bridger 8” Insulated BDry
Why Buy: Oboz hikers have long impressed us with their out-of-the-box comfort, and this continues with their new insulated boots. Waterproof Nubuck leather uppers, 200 grams of Thinsulate and winter-grade-rubber outsoles mean they’re rugged enough to handle Canadian weather coast-to-coast. The wool-topped insole is a cozy addition. As explore staffer Ryan McKenzie says: “They’re the ideal mix of snug and supportive, yet all-day-comfortable and blister-free.” (Women’s Bridger 7” Insulated BDry available.)
Who For: The avid snowshoer; the winter camper.
Smartwool Corbet 120 Jacket
Why Buy: This is explore editor David Webb’s favourite winter jogging jacket. The Corbet 120 combines breathable and stretchy merino/synthetic fabric on the sleeves and back with a heavier front panel of wool-blend insulation and wind-stopping polyester. In Webb’s words: “It does double-duty of insulating and wicking, ideal for high-output activities in near-zero-degree weather.”
Who For: The all-weather jogger; the cross-country skier.
Why Buy: Our choice for portable relaxation—ideal for car campers and canoeists. This chair weighs just one kilogram, but can hold 115 kilograms in a stable 300-denier nylon sling supported by aluminum poles. It also converts to a handy side-table and packs away slimly within its Frisbee-sized polypropylene base.
Who For: The tent dweller; the multi-day paddler.
Buff Merino Wool
($36 to 42; buffcanada.com)
Why Buy: We’ve been saved by our Buffs many times—from facing icy winds in Nunavik to a sudden hailstorm at our local ski hill. In fact, whether worn as a scarf, bandana, toque or one of the nine other official ways, we pretty much use ours year-round. For winter, the 100 per cent merino model is best: it’s stretchy, warm, breathable and soft next-to-skin. (Bonus: the wool comes from certified mulesing-free sheep.)
Who For: The outdoorsy generalist.