Best Extreme Cold Weather Gear
Winter can bring some of the harshest weather of any of the seasons and now is the time to start preparing for anything and everything that this winter could throw at you. Many people enjoy the winter weather, and they know that the right gear can be essential to doing the simplest of hobbies outdoors, and for those who do not enjoy the winter weather you still need to have the proper gear just to do your daily tasks. The question is, what is the proper and best gear to help battle the winter elements? Simply put the colder and more extreme the weather gets, the better your extreme cold weather gear needs to be.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
Somewhat larger size
Keeps you warm down to -40 degrees
- Marmot Membrain Down Sleeping Bag
- Ergodyne N-Ferno 6823
- Montane Deep Heat Jacket
- Swiss Safe Mylar Blankets
- Kamik Greenbay Boot
- Ozero Winter Gloves
- Primaloft GI Gen III Pants
- Terramar Thermasilk Liners
- Carhartt Base Force Top
- Under Armour Compression Mock
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Expert Interviews & Opinions
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Marmot Membrain Down Sleeping Bag
Somewhat larger size
Keeps you warm down to -40 degrees
Sooner or later, you’re going to have to sleep in the great outdoors during the colder months. Whenever that happens, having a sleeping bag that can help protect you against the frigid temperatures is a good thing to have. After searching through quite a few choices, we found that the Marmot Membrain Down sleeping bag is a great overall choice.Read more
This sleeping bag is fairly large, and can easily fit an average adult or possibly two younger children with ease. It measures 84 inches by 46 inches and weighs just about 4 pounds. Considering how warm and large this bag is, it packs down really well. It won't drag you down like some other equally warm sleeping bags. It comes with its own stuff and storage sack to help compress the down and help with packing inside your pack.
The goose down fill gives this sleeping bag a soft feel that is durable enough to prevent the down from poking the inside of the bag. Depending on the terrain that you will be sleeping upon, you may want a pad to soften the ground. Other than that, this sleeping bag will keep you warm and comfortable throughout the night.
Based on the materials used, this sleeping bag can easily keep you warm and dry down to a temperature of -40 degrees. Not only does it feature an easy to use side zipper that helps to keep out the cold, but also a mummy style hood to help you keep your ears, face and neck protected.
The outer portion of this sleeping bag is created using 30D rip-stop nylon material and coated with Pertex Shield 2L laminate which is a membrane that is breathable and waterproof. The interior portion is 800+ rated goose down fill and made from 30D ripcord nylon treated with Pertex Microlight.
The rip-stop outer shell and double seams make for a fairly durable sleeping bag that can withstand most everything that you may encounter on a winter camping trip. While we wouldn’t suggest using it for protection from sharp objects, this sleeping bag shouldn’t rip or tear under most normal circumstances.
This sleeping bag from Marmot offers a great way for the average sized person to keep themselves warm and comfortable in even the most extreme temperatures while camping. It is true that it can be on the expensive side, but if you're looking to keep warm in this type of conditions you won't want to be stingy.
2. Ergodyne N-Ferno 6823
Great protection from the wind
Universal fit overall
Hinged face mask area allows for greater versatility in wearing options
Not as durable as we would like
Recommended to be used with hats or beanies as well
When it comes to cold weather gear, especially when the temperatures drop significantly, protecting your face from the onslaught of the bitter cold is extremely important. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is through the use of a balaclava, like this one from Ergodyne.Read more
This balaclava is well suited to be worn by both men and women, and can easily fit just about any size adult head. The fleece material is easily stretched over the head of even larger heads, and easily adds warmth and comfort for those with smaller than average heads as well.
For the most part, people found this balaclava very easy to wear, and comfortable even under hoods, other hats, or goggles. There were some issues with glasses fogging up if both the nose and neck area were covered, but most people found this problem disappeared with practice.
This balaclava easily protects your face from the biting winter wind through a series of wind-protectant fabric panels around the nose, mouth and neck area. In addition, the head covering is fashioned from a thicker fleece material that is also lightweight and easy to wear overall. Some found the top portion that covers the head to be a bit thin, and it is recommended that this balaclava is used in conjunction with other head coverings.
The material used to create this particular balaclava is a combination of fleece and a stiffer fabric used in specific areas to aid in the protection from the wind.
Overall most people found this to be a bit on the less than durable side when it comes to the overall construction and thickness of the material. There were also cases of some of the balaclava tearing slightly at the seams.
If you’re looking for a great way to protect your head, face and neck from the bitter cold, a balaclava like this one is a surefire necessity. This particular one stands easily out from the west based on its hinged face mask area and windproof paneling that provides both versatility and protection overall.
3. Montane Deep Heat Jacket
Easily protects from cold weather
Fits easily over even the heaviest clothing
Loaded with features
Can be a bit bulky and inflexible
When the temperatures plummet, keeping your torso warm and comfortable is essential. That means having the right jacket while you’re exploring the great outdoors is important. One of the best jackets we’ve found hands down to do just that is the Montane Deep Heat Jacket. Designed for use by those who make their living braving the winter wonderlands, this is one jacket that will keep you warm even in the harshest weather.Read more
Overall, this jacket does tend to be a bit bulky, so be sure to take that into account when making a purchase. The elbow darts help to improve articulation and the low bulk cuffs--with internal lycra closure provide a snug fit and prevent heat loss.
When first purchased, this jacket can feel rather stiff and bulky, but with use, the flexibility and comfort do improve greatly. One it is broken in, the only real complaint that we had was that it sometimes kept us too warm. This is definitely a jacket to be worn in extreme temperatures, not for everyday winter use.
The Pertex Quantum Pro with Diamond Duse is highly water resistant and uses unique diamond-shaped nylon yarns to resist snagging and abrasion. Some people say this jacket is too warm, make sure you are wearing it in the appropriate temperatures.
The outer shell is made with Pertex Quantum Pro while the liner is PEAQ Down fabric. The 300g Allied Feather & Down Titanium Eco goose down at 800+ fill power. This will definitely keep you warm and dry.
Designed with the people who work and live in the great outdoors in mind, this Deep Heat Jacket from Montane will definitely keep you warm and dry in nearly any environment. While it can be a bit cumbersome to wear, overall if you want something that will protect you, this is the jacket to get.
4. Swiss Safe Mylar Blankets
Easy to use
Slightly smaller than expected
Wears our quickly at the folding creases
When the temperature starts to drop, and you don’t have all your winter gear in tow, having these Mylar blankets can literally save your life. Designed to keep heat close to you where you need it most, these lifesavers can be carried on your person in just about any situation imaginable.Read more
When fully deployed, each of these Mylar emergency blankets measures approximately 52 inches by 82 inches and weighs a mere two ounces. They are a great size for wrapping yourself in the reflective warmth or to create an emergency shelter for you or another person if necessary. Unlike many emergency blankets that are hard to fold and store away, these blankets from Swiss Safe offer an easy to fold version of a relatively large blanket. They fold down into a compact shape that can easily fit into your backpack, hip purse, or even your coat pocket for easy retrieval.
Most people who purchase these blankets keep them as an emergency blanket. For those who have used them, they say that they are comfortable to use and extremely warm. One of the nice things about this particular entry on our list of the best extreme cold weather gear is the sheer number of different ways that it can be used. In addition to providing emergency protection from the cold, it can also be easily used as a tent footprint, as a rain poncho, or even as backpack cover during inclement weather.
In addition to providing a verified way to conserve body heat, these Mylar emergency blankets are also wind and waterproof, making them an ideal choice when you need to protect you, or your belongings from the elements.
These blankets are made from a type of polyester materials called mylar. While some found these emergency blankets thinner and slightly smaller than expected, most found them to be quite useful and durable in most extreme weather situations. The only substantial complaint that we found was that the Mylar material sometimes weakened along the fold lines due to excessive bending and creasing.
If there is one item that you truly should have in your arsenal of extreme cold weather gear, a quality emergency blanket is it. While we certainly would have liked to see more durability and a slightly larger size in the case of this example, it’s still a great Mylar blanket for the cost.
5. Kamik Greenbay Boot
Rated for extreme temperatures
True to fit most of the time
Easy to put on or take off
Could use a bit more padding
When it comes to trudging through the snow and ice, having the right pair of cold weather boots is essential. One of our favorites is the Kamik Greenbay 4 Cold Weather boot. Designed to perform in frigid temperatures, these boots are known for keeping the cold snow and ice at bay when you need it the most.Read more
About three-quarters of the people who bought these boots found them to be true to size and comfortable. It should be noted that just under a quarter found them to slightly larger or smaller than expected. Additionally, quite a few women bought these boots and found them to be more comfortable than female extreme weather snow boots.
Overall, most people found these boots to be comfortable to wear, but a few did complain that there wasn’t quite enough padding in the calf area, and the boots needed to have better adjustability to account for layering during colder weather.
One of the best reasons to get these boots is their superior protection from the bitter temperatures of extremely cold weather. In addition to keeping both your feet, ankles and lower calves relatively warm, this boot also features great protection from water, ice, and snow. The tough synthetic soul also protects your toes and feet from scrapes punctures and abrasions.
These boots are made from 600 denier nylon with a synthetic rubber sole. They are rated for temperatures reaching down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and for most people, they can easily keep their feet warm and toasty. It also features a removal thermal insert, so if you decide that your feet are a little too warm, you can make adjustments.
These boots are sturdy and well made. While they aren’t the toughest winter boots we’ve ever seen, with proper care and maintenance, they should last for at least five years before replacement or repair may be needed.
If you’re looking for a great wintertime boot that is fairly comfortable and great for sloshing around in the snow, the Kamik Green Bay 4 Cold Weather Boot is one to consider. While we would have preferred slightly more padding, overall this is a great way to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
6. Ozero Winter Gloves
Keeps hands warm
Stretch to comfort fit
Protecting your hands from the bitter cold and still having good manual dexterity is perhaps the one thing that most outdoor enthusiasts strive for when buying extreme cold weather gear. While there are lots of great choices out there, one of the best we’ve found is Ozero Winter Gloves.Read more
Most people found these gloves to be well-fitting, if slightly large for smaller hands. If you are someone who has smaller than normal hands, you’ll probably want to order a size smaller than you usually do.
One of the great features of these gloves is the ability to easily move the fingers independently while still keeping them quite warm indeed. There were very few complaints about being able to grasp small items, fasten or unfasten buttons or snaps, or even use handheld electronic items. It should be noted, however, that these gloves are not designed for touch-screen use.
The combination of leather and polar fleece material makes for a very comfortable and flexible glove overall. While the sizing may be uncomfortable for some, most find that in time the stretch of the leather and the softness of the fleece is a good combination.
While these gloves are not waterproof, they certainly do provide great protection against the cold temperatures and wind. They are rated to offer protection down to -40 degrees, but most people found that they were good down to the - 20-degree range, which is more than adequate for most situations.
These gloves are fashioned out of a combination of deerskin leather, polar fleece, and cotton lining. They are very flexible, warm, and provide great protection from wind and colder temperatures.
While we would have liked to see these gloves as being truly waterproof, no one can deny that they are a great pair of gloves if you need to keep your hands and fingers warm while using them. If you’re looking for a great glove that offers great dexterity and warmth, these are a great choice overall.
7. Primaloft GI Gen III Pants
Oversized to fit over clothing
Designed for easy removal
High loft insulation keeps you warm in the coldest of conditions
Elastic waist and leg cuffs for a custom fit
May feel a bit bulky
When it comes to surviving and thriving in the colder temperatures, the militaries of the world certainly seem to have a serious advantage. One reason is because their gear and clothing is top notch and designed for cold weather use. These pants from Primaloft are one of the best we’ve found for keeping your legs warm.Read more
The majority of people found these pants to fit very well, and be true to the expected size range. About 20% found it to be too small for their preferences. In actuality, these pants are designed to wear over clothes, so it’s best to keep that in mind when ordering.
These pants feature an elastic waistband and leg cuffs that allow for the use of undergarments or extra room as needed for people with a slightly more heft to their build. They also feature a full-length side zipper to make taking them off relatively easy. Some found the pants a bit bulky and uncomfortable to wear over long periods, but most found it to be exactly what they needed.
These pants are designed to be layered on top of normal clothing, so they really act as your first defense against the frigid cold. The water-resistant material combined with the heavyweight insulation offers great protection against the winter cold, wind and snow, helping to keep your legs warm and dry. Not unexpectedly, these pants are extremely durable and feature a water-resistant finish on the outside that is designed to keep you warm and dry.
These pants are made of a synthetic material outer shell that is designed to repel moisture and an inner core of Primaloft Sport Thermal high-loft insulation.
If you’re planning on working or playing in extremely cold weather, you’ll want to protect your legs the best way you can. These pants from Primaloft may be a bit bulky, but they offer the best protection that money can buy in our opinion.
8. Terramar Thermasilk Liners
Comfortable to wear
Helps to retain heat
Fits under most gloves easily
Not as durable as we would have hoped
When it comes to staying warm in extremely cold weather, layering is key. Even if you have wonderful gloves, having the option to put a liner underneath them is a great way to add an extra layer where you need it the most. One of our favorite liner gloves by far are the Terramar Thermasilk Glove.Read more
The majority of people found these gloves to be a snug, but comfortable fit, with only a small fraction, about 15% indicating that the size was either slightly smaller or slightly larger than they desired. The sizes range from extra-small, which would fit an adult hand size six to an extra-large, or a size 10.
Overall, these glove liners provide for great manual dexterity, and if worn on their own (which we really wouldn’t suggest during colder temperatures) they offer about as much flexibility and dexterity as you would see without gloves.
Overall, most people found these gloves to be fairly comfortable. Provided that the correct size is purchased, they do allow for some stretching overall, but not as much as other liner gloves.
These gloves are finished with a ClimaSense treatment to adapt to your body’s temperature and keep you comfortable. While these are not waterproof, they are meant to be worn under another pair of gloves, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
These gloves are fashioned out of 100% silk material which is great at retaining heat and pulling moisture away as needed. While it doesn’t stretch as easily as a pair of gloves with spandex or other synthetic material included, if you get the right size, they are very comfortable to wear.
These gloves are relatively lightweight, and their overall durability does leave a bit to be desired. Quite a number of people found that they were easy to tear on objects such as keys, fishing hooks, and tent spikes to name a few. While they are fine as liner gloves and work very well for that purpose, we wouldn’t suggest using them as your everyday outdoor activity gloves.
If you’re looking for a pair of liner gloves that will help you keep your hands warm and relatively dry, this pair from Terramar will certainly fit the bill. While the durability could be a bit better, overall they serve their purpose well.
9. Carhartt Base Force Top
Provides an additional layer of warmth
Easy to care for
May not be the most comfortable fit at first
May fit a bit small in the shoulder and chest area
Whether you’re out working in the cold temperatures or simply enjoying a snowy landscape, having the right shirt can mean the difference between staying comfortable and shivering throughout your adventure. One of our personal favorites for staying warm is the Carhartt Men’s Base Force Wicking Cotton Crewneck Top.Read more
The majority of the people who bought this shirt found it to be a comfortable, if slightly snug fit. A small minority found that the shirt was a little too restrictive in the shoulder and upper arm area, but overall, there weren’t too many complaints as far as size was concerned.
When this shirt is first worn, many people find it to be unnaturally stiff and unyielding. However, after a few wash and wears, the close-knit cotton fibers begin to become more flexible and giving. If you desire bedtime comfort right away, you might want to consider other options. If you’re willing to give this shirt a bit of a chance, it can easily become one of your favorites.
In addition to helping you conserve body heat, this shirt is always quite good at keeping moisture and sweat away from your body using a moisture-wicking cotton knit material. Also, the material has been designed to help repel stains and dirt, which can shorten the life of any shirt, thermal or otherwise.
This shirt is made from a 100% cotton blend material that stretches over time to fit comfortably in nearly every situation.
This shirt is machine washable, and the knit design actually helps to release stains in the wash, so it’s fairly easy to keep clean.
If you’re looking for a shirt that can help keep you dry and warm even on the worst winter day, this choice from Carhartt is an easy one to make. While it may be a little stiff and uncomfortable right out of the box, over time the cotton knit thermal shirt will become your favorite, without any question.
10. Under Armour Compression Mock
Great base layer
Sizes run small
This piece of extreme cold weather gear is one to defiantly check out, as it acts as a great base layer when journeying out into the cold this winter. In a way, it is your first line of defense in maintaining body heat so you can enjoy your winter activities without becoming a victim to the extreme cold.Read more
This shirt is meant to fit tightly. It features a 4-way stretch fabric to keep you active and comfortable. Most people found this base layer to be true to size. For those who didn’t want the shirt so close to their skin ordered a size up.
As long as you understand the purpose of this shirt, the materials are great and comfortable. This is a tight fitting base layer. Under Armour only makes the toughest pieces of clothing for the toughest outdoor enthusiasts. They are known for their quality and this short will not only keep you warm and maintain body heat but will be part of your gear for years to come.
This shirt will offer the most protection and acts as a base layer to ensure your body heat is maintained and you stay warm during the winter months. Great for all outdoor activities or just daily tasks. Its main purpose is to keep you warm.
This shirt is made of 87% polyester and 13% elastane. It ensures a tight fit to maintain body heat and wick away sweat. If you are looking to journey in some cold temperatures, this is defiantly a piece of gear to keep you warm. Additionally, this shirt comes in a variety of colors and styles to ensure that there is one for every person.
Overall, this is definitely a piece of gear to look at and add to your arsenal if you will be spending quite some time outside this winter.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It is important to remember that if the item you’re using isn’t comfortable to wear, chances are you won’t use it. How many pairs of shoes do you have sitting in your closet because they cause you blisters? For this reason, among others, the overall fit and comfort of an item are important as well. Thankfully, with a few minor exceptions, such as being bulky or not fitting well for certain types of individuals, these items feature the ability to be worn or used by a wide range of individuals.
Because this guide features many items, for those products such as a blanket or sleeping bag, we considered this category as the size. They are both only offered in one size but we discussed the dimensions and how well this size would serve you, as well as how small they can be packed up.
As mentioned above,the comfort of an item is one of the most important factors to pay attention to before purchasing. You will want to know if reviewers think the material is itchy or abnormally fluffy and soft. Each item on this list is important to keeping you warm in the winter months. With some of the clothing items on our list, we found that they felt a bit stiff before be worn in and washed. We also took into consideration that you will be wearing these clothes all day and discussed how comfortable they would be for hours at at a time.
As for the blankets and sleeping bags, we discussed the comfort of the products, as well as the temperature ratings that the products are recommended for.
In truth, the first thing that you need to worry about when buying extreme cold weather gear is whether or not it will protect you in such an extreme environment. Things such as frostbite, hypothermia, dehydration, and injury are all acerbated by colder temperatures, and having something that can help protect you in that type of situation isn’t just a good idea; It’s a vital one. We dicussed the insulation of each product and how well they protect against rain and sow. Thankfully, the items presented here, if taken together will most likely provide enough protection for you to enjoy your time out in the colder weather and may make it so you want to have another adventure sooner than you think.
Of course, comfort, protection, and weather resistance are often dependent not only on how an item is made, but also on the materials used to make it. There are quite a few materials that are standard in extreme cold weather gear, including insulation, rip-stop nylon material, waterproof or water resistant fabric, rubber, and natural fibers designed for winter apparel to name a few. While not every item here had every material we would have liked or expected, they all have a good combination of the materials you need to get the job done in the colder weather. Along with the materials that an item is made from comes the durability. If the product is stitched well and made from quality fabrics, chances are that it will last longer.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you are spending a lot of time outdoors in the extreme cold, it is important to have something covering your mouth. This barrier will protect your lungs. These temperatures can not only cause pain to your lungs but sickness as well.
An obvious piece of advice is to indulge in warm beverages in cold weather. This will help to raise your body temperature and keep you warmer overall. Additionally, eating high calorie foods will keep your body nourished and funtioning at it's best.
Other Factors to Consider
Let’s face it; old man winter isn’t exactly the most gentle of men. It can be pretty harsh out there, even when you’re enjoying yourself. So the extreme cold weather gear you use needs to be able to tough it out with you. Thankfully, the items presented here are designed to be long-lasting and tough. Whether it’s through the use of reinforced seams, rip-stop material, layering of panels and fabric, or simply using metal zippers for added strength, everything here is designed to help you get the job done time after time.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do I need specific cold gear depending on the activities I will be participating in this winter?
In short, yes, you may need specialized gear for certain popular winter activities. If you enjoy mountaineering or cross-country skiing, for example, you will probably need crampons or specialized ski boots or shoes to get the most out of your adventure. However, for the most part, the basic items presented here are good choices for a foundation. Other specialized equipment may not always be necessary, but the essentials presented here most likely will be.
q: How long will you be out in the cold?
In a very real sense, what you wear out into the colder environments doesn’t just depend on the amount of snow on the ground and the temperature around you. Time also plays a factor. Think of it this way, the longer you stay out in the cold, the more time and effort you’re going to be spending just to keep warm and functional. Therefore, having clothes and equipment that can help you regulate your body temperature more easily over the long term is a good idea. In addition, despite what most people think, you actually may sweat more during the colder temperatures, especially if you’ve done the right thing and dressed in layers. If that’s the case, having material that can both wick moisture away and help keep you dry from the snow and ice is a good idea as well. That isn’t to say that all these things are a good idea on short trips; they are. But they become even more important the longer you are out in the extreme weather.
q: How many pieces of gear and supplies will you have?
Another thing that needs to be considered when choosing your extreme cold weather gear is what other things you will be taking with you. Outdoor winter activities such as camping, hiking or backcountry skiing often require more gear and more supplies than doing the same activities in other seasons. So it’s important to take into consideration the added weight and encumbrance of those things when choosing your standard winter gear. Characteristics such as high manual dexterity, extra pockets, the ability to easily strap something onto your back, or even good capacity can all play a significant role in your cold weather activities.
q: Why do I even need cold weather gear?
Cold weather gear is necessary depending on how comfortable and warm you want to feel during the winter months, it is a time when the weather can be unpredictable and honestly it is better to be prepared than to be stuck in a snow storm in a panic. In some situations, if you are going to find yourself on a winter adventure, cold weather gear can be the difference between life and death, as it can prevent things such as hypothermia, frostbite, and overall illnesses caused by exposing the body to the cold. Even if you are not the type to adventure in the winter, cold weather gear is still a good idea to have on your person, as if you find yourself on the side of the road changing a tire, or in a situation where you will be outside you will want to be prepared and stay as warm as possible. Overall cold weather gear is not mandatory when going out in the winter, but it is definitely a smart idea to have with you.
q: What is the most important piece of winter gear I need to keep me warm this winter?
All extreme winter gear is important as they all play a vital part in keeping your body warm and allowing you to continue to do your daily tasks or enjoy your outdoor adventures. But if you had to focus on some specific winter gear that you definitely want on hand, that would be any headgear, winter boots, winter jacket, gloves, or any clothing that will maintain body heat. Our list outlined some of the most important pieces of gear you want to keep your eye on, and why they play a vital role in keeping you warm and safe this winter.