Must-Have Women's Gear for Winter Backpacking

Stay warm in the depths of the snowy backcountry.

Curated by Sonja Saxe

Camping in the winter can seem like a cold, and even miserable experience, but I've found that with the proper gear and a little bit of luck with the weather, it can make for some of the best memories. During the winter months the crowds in bustling summer spots disperse, leaving you with a winter wonderland to enjoy to yourself. Setting up camp and spending a night or two in the wilderness allows you to enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets in solitude. Here's what you I use when I head out into the backcountry in the depths of winter!

Mountain Hardwear Tangent 2 Tent: 2-Person 4-Season


This winter tent is sturdy, quick to set up, and most importantly keeps me warm and dry in unpredictable winter conditions. My Tangent 2 has seen me through blizzards and windstorms and it's held strong throughout it all!

CLIF BLOKS Energy Chews


Hands down this is my favorite backcountry snack, perhaps even front-country snack! I'm not quite sure how much energy they actually give me but they sure taste good!

Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL Backpack - Women's - 3660cu in


I've tried my fair share of backpacks and each one didn't feel like it fit quite right. Then I tried a Deuter pack and it was as if everything fell into place; it fit me perfectly! In the summer I typically use it for longer trips but I've found that its size is great for brief winter trips as well. It is able to fit all of my extra winter gear and layers but doesn't drag me down.

Patagonia Downtown Down Jacket - Women's


The midweight Patagonia Downtown Jacket is perfect to wear at camp after the heat I worked up on the trek in has worn off and a chill starts to set in. On extra cold days it's also a great insulating layer to wear under my shell.

Oboz Bridger 7in Insulated BDry Boot - Women's


These hiking boots are a quadruple threat: insulated, waterproof, light, and warm. I thought it was an impossible combination to find, but these have held up to a winter's worth of hikes in the snow and are still keeping my feet cozy and dry.

Hot Cocoa Mix


I have a bit of a sweet tooth so hot chocolate is the perfect way to satisfy my craving for something sweet and stay warm on cold winter nights!

Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner


This sleeping bag liner serves two purposes. First, it helps keep the inside of my sleeping bag clean and it is much easier to wash than the sleeping bag. Second, it keeps me just a little warmer than I would be if I didn't use it and when the temperature is dipping into the single digits at night I'll take all the extra degrees of warmth I can get. It's also super comfortable to boot!

Playing Cards


It gets dark early in the winter, way too early to go to sleep right after sunset. Games are the perfect way to pass the time between sunset and bedtime. I like to bring a standard deck of cards along because the game options are endless!

Mountain House Beef Stroganoff - 2 Serving Entree


There is nothing more satisfying than a beautiful sunset and a warm meal after a long day of hiking. My favorite backcountry meal has to be the Mountain House beef stroganoff, it always hits the spot!

Marmot Ouray Sleeping Bag: 0-Degree Down - Women's


A sleeping bag is a really important component of a winter camping trip as staying warm throughout the night is imperative. The Marmot Ouray sleeping bag is rated at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and is filled is 650-fill duck down keeping the bag lofty and extra warm even in subfreezing temperatures!

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL Sleeping Pad


I've tried inflatable sleeping pad after inflatable sleeping pad and I always end up going back to the light and easy-to-use Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol. However, for winter trips I like to pair this with an inflatable pad for extra insulation from the cold, cold ground.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad


This is great to layer on top of the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol for extra insulation and a more comfortable night's sleep.

Patagonia Untracked Jacket - Women's


This is one of the best hard shells I have found. It's made with Goretex and has a water repellent finish. Whenever the weather starts to get rough I put on this jacket to keep me warm and dry and it hasn't let me down yet!

SmartWool Hike Light Crew Sock - Women's


Year-round these socks keep my feet warm in every condition!

Midweight Crew Top


This top, paired with the matching bottoms, is the perfect base layer for a cold-weather trip. I leave these on night and day and even on longer trips, with no showers, these haven't gotten too stinky.

Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp


I carry a headlamp with me all year but I use it much more in the winter because the days are so short. When nightfall comes at around 5pm but I'm not quite up for sleeping for 14 hours these headlamps are a great source of light. I also hang them from the ceiling of the tent so it can act like a lantern.

Black Diamond Apex GTX Gaiter


These gaiters easily strap on over my boots and keep my legs protected from branches and prevent snow from getting into my boots.

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe - Women's


If you're heading into the backcountry in the winter chances are you will need to use skis or snowshoes. On short trips these snowshoes are an awesome bet!

mophie Powerstation 8X


One of the more frustrating aspects of spending time outside in the winter is the drain the cold can have on my electronics' batteries. This is where the Mophie Powerstation comes in! It has 2 USB ports that can charge phones, cameras, etc multiple times.

Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System


When the trail is well packed and doesn't warrant snowshoes I opt to use microspikes instead. They prevent me from slipping on icier sections of the trail but don't weigh my feet down.

Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket - Women's


Sandwiched between my wool baselayer and my hardshell is this Patagonia fleece jacket. It's extremely comfortable and when I am really working hard this can work as my outer layer.

Giant Pom Pom Wool Hat


I love this knit wool hat so much I have it in multiple colors. Nearly every time I step outside in the winter this hat is on my head. Sometimes it's actually too warm and I have to take it off when I'm hiking or snowshoeing, but at camp it is the perfect topper!