No crowds, no bugs, and, if you've got the right gear, no shivering.
Klymit Insulated Static V pad
Strategically placed, synthetically insulated air chambers minimize heat loss and make the most of your sleeping bag’s loft—design features that kept testers in the Northern Rockies warm all night long. $90, klymit.com
Outdoor Research Stormtracker gloves
Finally. Lightweight, battery-heated, soft-shell gloves that actually retain their warmth. Testers appreciated the great grip and dexterity on these minimally insulated, windproof gloves, especially for activities like ski touring and ice climbing. $235, outdoorresearch.com
NEMO Canon -40 sleeping bag
The warmest, most thoughtfully designed sleeping bag we’ve ever tested, NEMO’s 850-fill Canon ($1,050) is equipped with side vents that allow you to shunt heat without letting cool air in and a tubular opening that warms the air around your face (it really works). Arm zips allow you to make coffee without getting out of the bag.
MSR Operator D shovel
Quick to deploy, with a beefy, serrated aluminum blade for chopping into consolidated snow, the Operator D ($70) can move a lot in a hurry.
Mammut Alyeska Realization pants
If your ski-mountaineering objectives regularly require you to rope up or rappel down, you’ll appreciate the Realization’s ($700) built-in harness. Not having to carry and then put on an additional piece of gear saves space and time.
Brooks Range Invasion tent
This fast-and-light, single-wall mountaineering tent is easy to set up (even with gloves on) and rock solid considering how insanely light (3.4 pounds) it is. The caveats: floor space is tight for two people, and as with all single walls, condensation is an issue. $570, brooks-range.com
ABS Vario Line 45+5 pack
This avalanche-airbag pack has 50 liters of storage capacity—plenty of room for stashing overnight gear. Want to downsize for a day trip? Zip one of ABS’s four other pack bodies (8, 18, 24, and 32 liters) onto the Vario base unit ($1,080) to adjust the carrying capacity.
MSR Beta Snow Science saw
Our backcountry-skiing testers loved the snow-crystal grids printed on the side of the blade. Everybody was impressed with its light weight, ergonomic handle, and cutting prowess (it handled good-size trees with no problem). $50, msrgear.com
JetBoil MiniMo stove
The latest JetBoil features improved simmer control and a fuel regulator that can handle arctic temps. $130, jetboil.com