Group of people making snow angels

103 ways to make this your best winter ever

Winter. It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s time to lie low. Right? Wrong. Get ready for the best, most active, winter you’ve ever experienced. Use this ultimate checklist to make your season of snow awesome – you may just create some new traditions along the way.

What are you waiting for? Get mega-cheesy in a cabin (#33), make some “lart” (#99), give the gift of the climbing bug (#90), and let us know how it goes with the ice screw in the turkey (#12).

Show us your checklist in action! Share with #goodtimesoutside

1. Dip in a hot tub, then do a snow angel in your bathing suit. Repeat.

2. Howl at the last full moon of the year (December 13).

3. Hold a gear potluck! Everyone brings used gear to trade.

4. Practice stealth yoga in long lineups. Recommended: mountain pose. Not recommended: savasana.

5. Go skiing.

6. Go espresso-shot skiing.

7. Snowshoe + fondue.

8. Determine your ideal pompom to head ratio.

9. Polar bear swim.

A photo posted by elyse marie (@ecurls) on

10. Polar bear swim in only a crazy hat.

11. Eat poutine at après.

12. Ice climbers: Can you train by winding an ice screw into a frozen turkey, then later fill the holes with butter? We’re not sure. Try it and report back.

13. Make gingerbread mountains.

A photo posted by ddrinaldi (@ddrinaldi) on

14. Winterize your recovery drink, and swap out chocolate milk for hot chocolate (or something equally delicious).

15. For every cup of hot chocolate consumed, sign up for 1 race (here’s a whole series to get you started).

16. “Plan a luau-themed run on the coldest day of the year.” – MEC Ambassador Jim Willett

MEC Ambassador Jim Willett on a frozen luau themed run

17. Surprise your chairlift buddy with extra handwarmers.

18. Organize group trips for spring/summer – no one will have plans yet!

19. … then mark your calendar for the date campground reservations open.

20. Hide a clue at the top of an indoor route for your best climbing pal. They have to climb the route for the clue that leads to their gift hidden in the gym.

21. Listen to snow crunch under your feet.

22. Embrace hygge …

23. … but first, learn how to say hygge.


24. Create a winter Olympics course for kids or friends. Ideas: snow-pit long jump, speed sledding, snowball accuracy.

25. Get first chair at the ski hill.

26. Play snowball-bocce.

27. Carry an extra mini-light, and give it to someone you spot biking or running in the dark.

28. Deliver at least one gift on foot.

29. Ice skate under the stars.

30. For your gym crew: hold a fitness secret santa. The gifts? Different workouts!

31. Hang a hammock in the snow.

32. Make a sacrifice to Ullr.

33. Cross-country ski to a cabin with a woodstove. Bring cheese sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil to melt into cheesy heaven.

A video posted by @heybenson on

34. “Do 10 push-ups every time you hear jingle bells.” – MEC Ambassador Reuben Krabbe

35. Camp in your backyard or living room.

36. Maintain your outdoor stoke on snowbound days by watching epics like Reel Rock, American Flyers or this short clip on Eddie Hunter.

37. Collect gently used sleeping bags from friends and co-workers, and donate them to your local shelter.

38. “Tire sur la neige – maple candy in the snow!” – MEC staffer Paula B.

39. If you skate-ski, try classic (and vice versa).

40. Try outdoor drawing and use it to make your holiday cards.

A photo posted by Jessa Gilbert (@jessagilbert) on

41. For cyclists: tackle the Equinox 8 (log the longest week of riding of the year during the shortest week of the year). Trainer rides count too!

42. Take close-up photos of beautiful frost patterns.

43. “As a holiday gift, organize an outdoor adventure or experience.” – MEC staffer Meghan B.

44. Geocache.

45. Learn to juggle 3 snowballs. Tip: you’re not learning to juggle, you’re learning patience.

46. “Put mini-strings of lights on your commuter bike – it’s a fun way to start a lot of conversations!” – MEC staffer Kim G.

47. Run in an ugly sweater.

MEC Ambassador Jim Willett and run crew ready for an ugly sweater run

48. Wear shorts on the shortest day of the year (December 21).

49. December 22, the day after solstice, has 5 seconds more daylight than the day before. Enough time to look up at the sky, take a deep breath in and long slow breath out.

50. For backcountry skiers: give the gift of safety and sign up a friend for an avalanche course.

A photo posted by Brenna (@scrappy.b) on

51. While the trees are bare, locate all the bird nests in your neighbourhood so you can revisit them in the spring.

52. Decorate a tree in your yard with shiny bits of gear.

Green bear bell used as a tree decoration

53. Be a snow angel – shovel driveways and walkways for your neighbours.

54. Ride a bike-share bike in your hometown or a city you’re visiting.

55. “Headlamp ski – or full-moon ski – around a city park or golf course.” – MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby

56. Serve hot cocoa next to a busy bike lane or transit stop.

57. Do a cartwheel in snowshoes.

58. Learn to knit while you run – run a marathon and knit a scarf longer than 3.70m, you’ll have a world record! But really, any scarf knit while running would make an amazing gift.

59. Try winter surfing.

60. If you have to drive to a shopping mall, park at the farthest spot away and enjoy a stroll to the door.

61. “If a big storm hits the city, put on snowshoes or cross-country skis ASAP, and enjoy the freedom of exploring while everyone else is stuck in a snowbank.” – MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby

62. Pack hot-shots and wooly socks and go bouldering outside to experience how amazing the friction is when it’s cold.

63. Learn to slackline while there’s snow on the ground to cushion your landings.

64. For runners: plan a destination race. Invite a buddy so you can train together.

65. “Spend New Year’s Eve on a mountain peak.” – MEC staffer Terry S.

A photo posted by Richard ( on

66. Does your local nordic club host a lantern ski? Get in on that!

67. Or make your own snow lanterns in your backyard.

68. Snowshoe from one holiday party to another.

69. Cozy up in sleeping bags and learn a new constellation.

70. Go bike-carolling.

71. Try a 30-day challenge – yoga, planks, s’mores recipes.

Craft s'mores

72. Trail run by headlamp with friends. Make sure you know the trails well – things always look different at night.

73. “Share your training schedule with your family… my parents love to come to the climbing gym with me.” – MEC Ambassador Sarah Hart

74. Decorate a tree by a bike lane, trail running route or snowshoeing area…

75. … then trek back in later to take it down!

76. Go climbing in the desert.

77. Go for an early morning run or walk on Christmas morning, and bask in the quiet, empty city.

78. Create a scavenger hunt for your significant other’s gift that requires finding clues via everyday adventures around the neighbourhood.

79. “Night sledding by headlamp – it’s crazy fun!” – MEC Ambassador Louis Rousseau

80. Have a bundled, wintry picnic after a holiday feast to polish off precious leftovers.

81. Host a potluck party for all your climbing pals with an open bar. The price for a drink? Chin-ups/deadhangs/L-hangs on your hangboard.

82. Build a little kicker at your local park to perfect your 180. Keep it low and rolling. Repurpose it as a sledding jump.

83. Crank out a long run on Boxing Day. Wear micro-spikes if it’s icy.

84. Build a snow tunnel maze for the dog or your kids.

85. Try winter camping.

86. Build a new habit with the 12 days of stretch-mas: foam roll and stretch your over-hiked, over-biked legs, arms and glutes.

87. “Have a “Light up the Ave” run meet-up. Get decked out in bike lights, headlamps, turtle lights, then run through the downtown core.” – MEC staffer Josephine B.

88. Air-out, patch and prep your summer gear for next season. Lovingly pack it away with a new treat for next year. Some ideas: a note reminding you of places to go, a fancy chocolate bar, or a paperback book to read by the lake.

89. Sunrise walk.

90. Random act of kindess, climber edition: Pre-pay the drop-in fee for the next new climber that arrives at the front desk at your climbing gym.

91. Leave build-your-own-snowman kits on your neighbours’ and friends’ lawns. Include a carrot, old hat and scarf, rocks and sticks.

92. Hit up a tubing park.

93. Volunteer at least once – bonus points if it’s outside.

94. Walk a dog and throw snowballs for them to catch.

95. “Ride a fat bike to a holiday party!” – MEC Ambassador Max Edwards


96. Make your own wrapping paper with water-based paint and the pattern on your hiking boots.

97. Have a backcountry feast, complete with freeze-dried turkey, mashed potatoes and dried cranberries.

98. “Make snow cones in the woods! Pack in simple syrup and some parchment paper for a cone.” – MEC staffer Paula B.

99. Create holiday cards by capturing light art (“lart”) with sparklers or headlamps outside.

A photo posted by Missy Shana (@missyshana) on

100. Pick a ride or race in early 2017 and start training now. It’s about a 16-week training window – perfect.

101. Build a self-portrait snowperson.

102. Flannel Friday: wear every piece of flannel you own. Plaid-urday works too.

103. Make an advent calendar for your favourite outdoor buddy, but instead of chocolate, it’s awesome things to do outside. Use this ginormous list as inspiration.

A video posted by Jessa Gilbert (@jessagilbert) on

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew over 2000 strong. Includes adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who get out often.