Don’t spend all month bundled up indoors. Life’s too short to spend half of it hiding from cold weather. There’s a great, gorgeous outdoors to enjoy year-round, whether you head for a campground—peacefully deserted this time of year—or stick to your own backyard. Check out these great deals for everything you need to go for a hike and retire at night to a crispy, wood-fired, homemade pizza.
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Hiking and Camping Gear
Most of the US, UK, and Canada are under a cold wave, although it’s primetime for warm-weather hiking in much of the US desert Southwest. No matter. Every season is hiking and camping season. Check out our Hiking 101, Best Camp Stoves, and Best Tents guides for more.
Even in relatively mild overnight temperatures, sleeping directly on the ground can suck a surprising amount of your body heat and leave you chilly. The Xlite is my favorite inflatable sleeping pad for backcountry adventures and alpine climbs. It weighs a mere pound or less (depending on sizing), offers significant warmth under a sleeping bag, and rolls up into a very compact tube of fabric. Mine’s lasted five years with no noticeable wear.
For overnight camping and backpacking, it’s a good idea to bring a very small pack towel or two. Handy for wiping down condensation and drizzle from tents and packs, they double as quick ways to dry off after a rain shower or lift a hot pot lid from a camp stove. Sea to Summit makes some of the best. Its synthetic terrycloth sops up plenty of liquid and dries quickly.
The Colorado-based company is one of our favorite tentmakers. Although normally pricey, it offers quality materials and thoughtful features, such as (in this case) eight interior pockets. The Big House’s near-vertical walls, dual doors, and 83 square feet (7.7 square meters) make it a luxurious home away from home. There’s also the 4-Person Big House on sale for $300.
Filtering water for a whole group of people is time-consuming and tiring when you’re using a small, personal water filter. Take the muscle work out of getting clean water by making gravity work for you. Just fill up the dirty-water bag with four liters of river or creek water, connect it to the filter and clean water bag, hang it from a branch, and stand back. It’ll take about four minutes to get clean water. Separating dirty and clean water into separate bags reduces the risk of cross-contamination—a nice touch.
Patagonia is known affectionately as Pattagucci for its normally lofty prices—although I argue that it’s typically worth the price. Now, with so many great articles of Patagonia clothing on deep discounts, it’s a no-brainer. Check out our Best Base Layers guide and our how-to on layering outdoor clothing while you’re here.
Usually, I point folks to the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket when somebody asks me for a recommendation on a good, warm puffy jacket for around $100, but with Patagonia’s excellent Nano Puff on sale for just a tick more, add this to the list (if you act by February 8). It has 60 grams of synthetic PrimaLoft Gold insulation packed into a lightweight, 10-ounce body and a trim fit that you can layer underneath a waterproof layer. Only the women’s sizing is on sale and in a few colors.
Women’s Sizing, Men’s Sizing
I’m a big believer in the value of a synthetic shirt for outdoor activities. Cotton stays damp from sweat and takes forever to dry, whereas these 100-percent polyester shirts dry out much more quickly. I use Capilene shirts for climbing too since they have enough stretch to allow big moves on the wall without restricting movement. They can double as a workout shirt in the gym since they dry quickly, and hey, even triple as good-looking shirts around town.
Women’s Sizing, Men’s Sizing ($119)
Retro, 1970s-style fleece is back. Forget that carpet-like fleece that was all over the malls in the ‘90s and 2000s. This high-pile fleece jacket is among the softest, coziest fleece on the market. Made of 100 percent recycled polyester, it functions as either a toasty mid-layer or an outer layer.
You trim the grass and yank out weeds for it. You may as well get out there and enjoy that backyard every moment you can. Whether it’s lounging around or cooking pizzas, do something new back there this year. Also, take a look at our Best Lawn Games, Gear to Screen Movies Outside, and Best Gear to Make Your Backyard More Fun guides for ideas.
Senior product reviewer Scott Gilbertson named these his budget pick if you’re on the hunt for affordable binoculars. He noticed some chromatic aberrations, such as purple fringing, but overall they’re a solid choice for spotting those birds visiting your backyard feeders and birdhouses.
This here’s a lounging hammock. Without a rain cover or mosquito netting, it’s best for lazy backyard and campground hangs than overnighting through the forest. I spent a few days on Long Island’s north shore gently swaying in the summer breeze with a beer and a book. From the hammock fabric to the included hanging straps, the quality was solid and I can’t see a reason to spend more on pricier hammocks. The instructions are easy to understand for newbies, too.
Unless you want to install an 800-900 degree (Fahrenheit) pizza oven in your kitchen, your best bet for making an extraordinary pie at home is to buy this outdoor pizza oven. In her review (8/10, WIRED Recommends), senior associate reviews editor Adrienne So says she likes its compact size and how well it handles cast-iron pans. It heated up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius) in a mere 15 minutes. This version runs on wood only, although there is a version that runs on wood and propane also on sale for $615.
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