Stay Warm With Best Extreme Cold Weather Gear Of 2022


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Anyone who has ever worked outside in winter understands the value of first-class cold-weather gear. It’s not a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity. Failing to prepare properly for extreme cold weather is a recipe for disaster, whether you’re a construction worker, ski lift employee, or outdoor enthusiast.

First things first, you want to learn how to properly layer your clothes in extreme cold. You want to start with a close-fitting base layer, ideally made from wool. Add a fleece mid-layer, then move to a down or synthetic insulation layer, and finally top it all off with a good water and windproof outer layer that traps warm air. Bitterly cold weather also calls for quality winter socks, thick gloves, a wind-resistant hat or balaclava, and of course, warm and comfortable winter boots. If you’re planning on hiking or camping in extremely cold temperatures, you’ll also want warm, water-resistant sleeping bags and thermal blankets with you.

Here are our choices for the best extreme cold-weather gear.

 

The best extreme cold weather gear

 

 

Best Hiking Hydration Vest: Osprey Dyna 1.5 Hydration Vest

 

Osprey Dyna 1.5 Hydration Vest

Whether you like trail running or mountain hiking, you need to have water with you – and preferably not in plastic bottles because they’re a) cumbersome to lug around with you, and b) bad for the environment. This is where hydration packs like Osprey Dyna 1.5 Hydration Vest come in. This 1.5L water bladder is a favorite among our testers, one of whom always has it with her when she’s running or hiking. She describes this pack as lightweight and incredibly comfortable and uses it not only for water but also for carrying some of her small essentials, such as her phone, headlamp, keys, and even a small first aid kit. It all fits perfectly. Our tester does recommend sizing up if you’re running with lots of layers in the winter.

Key features

  • Hydraulics LT 1.5L reservoir with QuickConnect sternum magnet
  • Zippered harness stash pocket
  • Dual stretch mesh harness pockets
  • Lifetime warranty

Specification

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Model: Dyna 1.5
  • Weight: 0.57lbs

Pros

  • Super-lightweight and comfortable
  • Will keep you hydrated on the trail
  • Plenty of space for small essentials

Cons

  • While ideal for mild winters, it’s not designed for the extreme cold when water might freeze

See Osprey Dyna 1.5 Hydration Vest on REI

See Osprey Dyna 1.5L Hydration Vest on Moosejaw

 

 

Best Balaclava Ski Mask: Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Fleece Shellaclava Ski Mask

 

Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Fleece Shellaclava Ski Mask

The balaclava is a winter clothes staple and the Turtle Fur Chelonia Shellaclava Ski Mask takes the form to a whole new level of functionality. Tested by one of our own, this wind-resistant balaclava is described as “one of the warmest ski masks” on the market and a fantastic neck warmer. The hood part of the Shellaclava contains a synthetic material with a wind-resistant finish and it fits perfectly under a ski or motorcycle helmet. The inside is brushed fleece which is not only warm but also soft. The neck warmer features a double layer of soft fleece. The whole thing provides full coverage but you can also wear it as a neck warmer only.

Key features

  • Stretch spandex hood with a wind-resistant finish, soft fleece on the inside
  • Neck warmer features a double layer of soft fleece
  • UPF 50+ Sun protection
  • Fits under helmet

Specification

  • Brand: Turtle Fur
  • Weight: 2.56 Ounces

Pros

  • Total coverage for face, head, and neck
  • Wind resistant finish and fleece interior keep face toasty
  • Can be worn in multiple ways

Cons

  • Ski goggles or glasses can fog up a bit when mask is pulled over nose

See Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Fleece Shellaclava Ski Mask on Amazon

See Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Fleece Shellaclava Ski Mask on Walmart

 

Best Wool Socks: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Sock with Cushion

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Sock with Cushion

Knit with 59% merino wool, 39% nylon, and 2% lycra spandex, the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks are both comfortable and durable. They are ideal for winter hikes, mountaineering, snowboarding, as well as everyday use. The Darn Tough socks have been our tester’s favorite pair of socks for four years; yes, you read that right. They really are darn tough. Even after four years of regular use (usually for hiking, climbing, and some snowboarding), his pair has remained as thick and cushiony as it was on day one. In fact, the brand is so certain of the quality of their socks that if your pair wears or tears anywhere, they will replace it, no questions asked.

Key features

  • 59% merino wool, 39% nylon, and 2% lycra spandex
  • Midweight with cushion
  • Ideal for winter activities
  • Lifetime warranty

Specification

  • Brand: Darn Tough
  • Model: HS976871
  • Weight: 0.8 Ounces

Pros

  • Thick and comfortable
  • Extremely durable
  • Warm, breathable and odor-resistant

Cons

  • Excellent quality comes at a price

See Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Sock with Cushion on Amazon

See Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Sock with Cushion on Darn Tough

See Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Sock with Cushion on REI

 

Best Winter Jacket: Canada Goose Men’s Expedition Parka Coat

canada goose men's expedition parka coat 1

Developed for scientists working in Antarctica, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka is guaranteed to keep you warm in extreme cold weather conditions. It features 625-fill duck down for insulation, Arctic-Tech nylon for the outer shell layer, plus nylon lining, making it one of the warmest jackets that money can buy. There’s also an adjustable down-filled hood for element protection with a removable fur ruff, fleece-lined chin guard, and interior drawcord at the waist to retain warmth. Six exterior pockets and two interior pockets are enough for all the essentials you might need. The winter jacket is also beautifully tailored and comfortable, but it is quite big so you may want to consider going down a size if you plan on wearing it around the city without too many layers.

Key features

  • 625-fill duck down and Arctic-Tech nylon
  • Hood trim is genuine coyote fur and is removable
  • Thermal Experience Index -30°C and below
  • Lifetime warranty

Specification

  • Brand: CANADA GOOSE
  • Model: 3426M
  • Weight: 2.1 Pounds

Pros

  • Field-tested for the coldest places on earth so will definitely keep you warm
  • First-rate tailoring and materials
  • Eight total pockets for all your essentials

Cons

  • You’re going to pay for the quality

See Canada Goose Men’s Expedition Parka Coat on Amazon

See Canada Goose Men’s Expedition Parka Coat on Canada Goose

 

Best Insulated Gloves: Carhartt Men’s W.P. Waterproof Insulated Glove

 

carhartt men's w.p. waterproof insulated glove

Carhartt produces high-quality lifestyle products for discerning consumers. Their Men’s Waterproof Insulated Glove is a good example of what they do right. There’s a 100% polyester shell, a lining that makes short work of moisture, a durable polyurethane-reinforced palm, and a waterproof insert. The fleece cuff with adjustable wrist strap closure retains warmth and provides a good fit. A great pair of winter gloves for both everyday use and physical work.

Key features

  • Polyester shell and lining
  • FastDry® moisture-wicking technology
  • Reinforced polyurethane palm
  • Fleece cuff with adjustable wrist strap closure

Specification

  • Brand: Carhartt
  • Model: A511
  • Weight: 7.2 Ounces

Pros

  • Effectively waterproof
  • Insulated, warm, and comfortable
  • Great for everyday use and work

Cons

  • You’ll need a liner on really cold days

See Carhartt Men’s W.P. Waterproof Insulated Glove on Amazon

See Carhartt Men’s W.P. Waterproof Insulated Glove on Carhartt

 

Best Fleece Mid-Layer: Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket

columbia steens mountain fleece jacket

 

The Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket makes for a fantastic mid-layer. Made from polyester maximum thermal retention (MTR) filament fleece, and featuring a collared neck, this soft-to-touch men’s jacket will keep you warm if you pair it with warm thermals underneath and an insulated coat or jacket on top. It’s comfy and warm without adding the bulk, making it a wonderful mid-layer. You can also wear it as your only jacket in milder conditions when you’re ready for some outdoor physical activities.

Key features

  • 100% polyester MTR filament fleece
  • Breathes easy and dries quickly
  • Generous side pockets
  • Elasticized cuffs

Specification

  • Brand: Columbia
  • Model: WM3220
  • Weight: 1.05 Pounds

Pros

  • Great mid-layer in colder weather, good outer layer on milder days
  • Soft fleece is warm and comfortable
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Quality control is sometimes suspect

See Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket on Amazon

See Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket on Columbia

 

Best Base Layer Bottoms: Duofold Men’s Mid-Weight Wicking Thermal Pant

duofold men's mid-weight wicking thermal pant

 

Duofold’s Mid-Weight Wicking Thermal Pant is an essential bottom layer for cold weather. Made from 60% cotton and 40% polyester, they’re warm yet breathable with moisture-wicking properties. The double-layer thermal design traps air, while the rib-knit cuffs prevent cold air intrusion. Soft and comfy, these everyday thermals will keep you warm without overheating you.

Key features

  • 60% cotton, 40% polyester
  • Chaff-free flatlock seams
  • Chill-blocking rib cuffs
  • Convenient front fly

Specification

  • Brand: Duofold
  • Model: KMW2
  • Weight: 11.4 Ounce

Pros

  • Super-warm and comfortable
  • High-quality fabric, layers well
  • True to size fitting

Cons

  • They provide little support

See Duofold Men’s Mid-Weight Wicking Thermal Pant on Amazon

See Duofold Men’s Mid-Weight Wicking Thermal Pant on Walmart

 

Best Outer Layer Pants: GI Extreme Cold Weather Primaloft Pants

gl extreme cold weather primaloft pants

 

These are genuine military issue winter clothes designed to keep soldiers in the game under the most trying conditions imaginable. GI Extreme Cold Weather Primaloft Pants are a breathable, durable garment wrapped in a wind-resistant shell with reinforced knees and full-length side zippers. With an outer shell that has a water-resistant finish and PrimaLoft’s high-loft insulation, these level seven pants are one of the best, most durable outer layer pants on the market. They’re loose enough to fit several layers of thicker long underwear.

Key features

  • Primaloft high loft insulation
  • Nylon reinforced knees
  • Water-resistant shell
  • Zippered fly

Specification

  • Brand: Primaloft
  • Weight: 4 Pounds

Pros

  • Keeps you warm during extreme cold snaps
  • The full-length side zipper makes for easy access
  • Intended to be worn as a final layer

Cons

  • With all due respect, the military isn’t known for their fashion sense

See GI Extreme Cold Weather Primaloft Pants on Amazon

See GI Extreme Cold Weather Primaloft Pants on Walmart

 

Best Base Layer Long-Sleeve Shirt: Carhartt BaseForce Midweight Classic Base Layer

 

carhartt men's base force-super cold weather crewneck top

 

This awesome Carhartt BaseForce Midweight long sleeve shirt is fashioned from 100% ring-spun cotton, making it a great base layer to wear in cold weather. With moisture-wicking properties and reinforced stitching, this piece of cold weather apparel is also comfortable and durable for hard work. The shirt is also machine washable and features stain breaker technology (releases stains during washing) so it’s super-easy to keep clean and fresh. Partner it with a comfy fleece jacket or shirt and a waterproof shell layer, and you’ll be more than toasty in frigid temperatures.

Key features

  • 100% ring-spun cotton
  • FastDry material
  • Generous drop tail
  • Stain breaker technology

Specification

  • Brand: Carhartt
  • Model: 100639
  • Weight: 1 Pound

Pros

  • A great looking pullover you’ll want to wear by itself
  • High-quality stitching, extremely durable shirt
  • Ideal for hard work but also everyday

Cons

  • Definitely needs layering on really cold days

See Carhartt BaseForce Midweight Classic Base Layer on Carhartt

See Carhartt BaseForce Midweight Classic Base Layer on Amazon

See Carhartt BaseForce Midweight Classic Base Layer on Moosejaw

 

Best Glove Liners: Terramar Thermasilk Glove Liner

terramar thermasilk glove liner

 

If you suffer from cold hands and fingertips no matter how well-insulated your gloves are (extremities lose blood flow and therefore warmth first), we highly recommend you start wearing a pair of glove liners. The Terramar Thermasilk Glove Liners are lightweight and comfortable, easy to slip into your existing gloves, and turn them into hot pockets. They can be worn with your current work gloves or as a stand-alone winter clothes item (they’re great for computer work). Best of all, they’re unisex and very affordable too.

Key features

  • 100% filament silk liners
  • Quick-Dri Thermoregulation tech
  • Lightweight, thin design
  • Machine washable

Specification

  • Brand: Terramar
  • Model: S491
  • Weight: 0.8 Ounces

Pros

  • Very comfortable on the skin
  • Inexpensive and effective
  • Will slip under most gloves

Cons

  • Since they’re made of silk, they’re not extremely durable

See Terramar Thermasilk Glove Liner on Amazon

 

Best Winter Boots: Kamik Men’s Greenbay Cold-Weather Boot

kamik men's greenbay cold weather boot

 

If you’re looking for quality winter boots, look no further than Kamik’s Greenbay Cold-Weather Boot. Featuring 600 denier nylon on the outside plus rubber outsoles for water resistance, as well as an 8mm Thermal Guard removable liner that excels at moisture-wicking, these boots will keep you warm and dry. With a minus 40°F rating, which is about as cold as it ever gets in the lower 48, but tipping the scales at a remarkably svelte 31 ounces, these are the boots to add to your extreme cold-weather gear arsenal.

Key features

  • 600 denier waterproof nylon
  • Hook/loop midfoot strap
  • Synthetic rubber sole
  • Thermal guard liner rated at -40°F

Specification

  • Brand: Kamik
  • Model: GREENBAY4-M
  • Weight: 1 Pound

Pros

  • Lightweight and extremely warm
  • Thermal Guard liner is easily removed
  • Made wider for comfort

Cons

  • Remains a bit stiff even after repeated use

See Kamik Men’s Greenbay Cold-Weather Boot on Amazon

See Kamik Men’s Greenbay Cold-Weather Boot on Walmart

 

Best Sleeping Bag: Hyke & Byke Goose Down Sleeping Bag

hyke & byke goose down sleeping bag

 

The Hyke and Byke Goose Down Sleeping Bag is filled with genuine goose down, has a 20D ripstop nylon shell, compresses down to a minuscule 10 x 7 inches, and weighs less than 3 pounds. Importantly, its shell fabric is also water-resistant so you’ll stay warm, dry, and comfortable no matter how harsh the weather conditions.

Key features

  • Heavy-duty YKK Zipper
  • 400T ripstop nylon shell
  • 90/10 premium goose down fill
  • Available in various lengths

Specification

  • Brand: Hyke & Byke
  • Weight‎: 3.37 Pounds

Pros

  • Extremely light and easy to carry
  • Stuffs down to a microscopic 10 x 7 inches

Cons

  • Goose down has a slight odor which can be a dealbreaker for those with a highly developed sense of smell

See Hyke & Byke Goose Down Sleeping Bag on Amazon

 

Best Thermal Blanket: Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets

swiss safe emergency mylar thermal blankets

 

The primary purpose of the Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blanket is to help you stay warm wherever you are. But it also has a dozen other uses, including portable shelter, trail marker, rain poncho, ground cover, wind block, emergency shade, and more. Hands down, the best – and possibly the cheapest – emergency blanket on the market.

Key features

  • Retains up to 90% of body heat
  • Can be used as rain protection
  • Pack of 4
  • Money-back guarantee

Specification

  • Brand: Swiss Safe
  • Weight: 9.9 Ounces

Pros

  • Fulfills an array of emergency needs
  • Provides complete coverage
  • Light as a feather

Cons

  • Fabric is not exactly robust

See Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets on Amazon

 

Best Ski Goggles: Oakley Flight Deck XM Snow Goggles

oakley flight deck xm snow goggles

The Oakley Flight Deck XM Snow Goggles are simple in design and construction but provide excellent visibility no matter how cloudy or foggy the day might be. Their Prizm lenses effectively eliminate glare and relieve stress on your eyes caused by reflected sunlight. They also have an anti-fog coating and are compatible with most prescription eyewear. A must-have for skiing and snowboarding in bright conditions.

Key features

  • Prizm tech fine-tunes vision for specific environments
  • F3 anti-fog coating
  • Will slip over most contemporary glasses
  • Adjustable headband

Specification

  • Brand: Oakley
  • Model: OO7064-68
  • Weight: 8.8 Ounces

Pros

  • Prevents snow blindness
  • Great for skiing or snowboarding
  • Fully adjustable for a perfect fit

Cons

  • Pretty easy to scratch

See Oakley Flight Deck XM Snow Goggles on Oakley

 

Why trust us

As outdoor professionals and participants in cold-weather sports and activities, including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountaineering, hunting, and winter camping, we know a thing or two about extreme cold-weather gear and clothing. The products you see recommended here were selected by hikers, skiers, hunters, mountaineers, as well ex-ski lift operators and outdoor workers; basically folks who either spend a lot of time outside or used to work outside, and who know what extreme cold weather and wind chill really feel like.

Who this is for

This guide is for anyone looking for quality extreme cold weather clothing and gear to keep them warm, dry, and comfortable. Whether you’re searching for waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry in deep snow, a durable thermal blanket for winter camping, or insulated gloves with a fleece lining to keep your hands warm while you work in cold conditions, we’ve got you covered.

How we picked

When choosing cold weather clothing and gear for this guide, we tried to find products that would appeal to a wide range of users and budgets. Our focus was on reputable brands we know and love, as well as products that our staff and editors use (or have happily used in the past) in cold winter weather.

How we tested

There’s only one real way to test cold-weather gear and winter apparel, by using or wearing it in frigid temps, which is exactly what we did. We hiked, camped, worked and played in bitterly cold weather, testing our snow balaclavas, thermal socks, and water packs.

a man sits in a sleeping bag and drinking tea

Features to look for in cold-weather gear

The best cold-weather clothing and gear will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable when you’re out there in cold and wet conditions for hours at a time. However, finding the right cold gear/clothing for your needs and budget can be tricky. If you’re working for eight hours, five days a week in the snow, you’ll need different apparel than someone who skies for three hours on the weekends. With that in mind, here’s what to pay attention to when selecting extreme cold-weather gear and clothing.

The activity

Making sure you purchase winter clothes that are compatible with your activity is crucial. For instance, there are plenty of cold weather boots out there but if you’re going winter mountaineering you’re going to need a very specific type of crampon-compatible boot.

Type of protection

Winter gear should offer robust protection from extreme cold. But there are other types of protection as well, like protection from reflected sunlight that could cause snow blindness, and from biting north wind that could cause hypothermia.

Materials

When it comes to extreme cold-weather gear, you’re dealing with materials that seldom see the light of day during the summer months. That includes lambswool, goose down, and Thinsulate, as well as polyester, polypropylene, nylon, spandex, and GORE-TEX.

Durability

Winter wear tends to be subjected to enormous stress and so the quality of the stitching involved will go a long way toward determining the durability of the garment, shoes, gloves, or other items.

Comfort

Comfort is a function of effective layering. It all starts with the right base layer and then builds from there. You’ll want each layer to be as light as possible and fairly easy to remove and stow should you begin to overheat.

Weight

If you don’t choose your cold-weather gear wisely, the weight of all your layers is going to feel like an anchor. Effective lightweight winter gear is going to cost you more but in the long run, it’s well worth it.

Breathability

Effective cold-weather clothing helps retain your precious body heat by trapping it, so if your layering system is not composed of breathable materials, then that warm, moist stew is going to fester and create noxious odors while undermining comfort.

woman running through woods in winter

Cold-weather gear FAQ

Q: Importance of layering – why dress in layers?

Layering allows you to effectively regulate your comfort level by adding and removing items to fit changing conditions. Those who don’t dress in layers typically either wind up overheating or freezing. In most cases, you’ll want a three-layer system that, at its simplest, is composed of a base layer of thermal underwear, a middle layer such as a sweater, and an outer layer typically composed of a well-insulated jacket or coat that also serves as a windbreak or rain shell and prevents heat loss. In extreme cold, a four-layer system is recommended.

Q: Can too many layers make you colder?

While more layers of winter clothes won’t necessarily make you colder by themselves, they could result in a situation where you have difficulty regulating your temperature. Also, too many warm clothes can hinder mobility which could endanger you in situations that require technical climbing.

Q: How do you raise your body temperature?

Nothing warms you up like moving and few things are more dangerous during really cold weather than standing or sitting still. Even if you dress in layers of polypropylene, wool and down, if you sit still for long periods, your heat will slowly be siphoned off and then you’re in big trouble.

Q: What are the symptoms of low body temperature?

Low body temperature or ‘hypothermia’ is a life-threatening condition that typically occurs when someone has been exposed to extreme cold for a prolonged period of time. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, confusion, inability to make a decision, shallow breathing, slurred speech, stumbling, weak pulse, and unconsciousness (in severe cases).

Q: What do you wear in extreme cold?

Layers. You want to start with a close-fitting layer that is soft, comfortable, and moisture-wicking; merino wool, or a mix of cotton/wool and synthetic is a good choice. Mid-layers should provide an extra layer of warmth but should be breathable and not too thick; a nice fleece top and fleece pants are going to be comfy and warm. The third layer should be your insulation layer – a down or a synthetic jacket or coat. Finally, to trap all that warmth, you can add a waterproof and windproof outer shell to your layering system – a soft or hardshell jacket and pants, depending on your needs.

Sources:

  1. Winter Weather – Preparedness – U.S. Department Of Labor
  2. Staying Warm Outdoors In Winter – New Hampshire Department Of Health And Human Services
  3. Stay Safe During & After a Winter Storm – CDC
  4. Stay Safe in the Extreme Cold – National Weather Service