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25 Essentials for Cold Weather Travel: Winter Travel Packing List

Stumped on what to pack for your winter vacation? Here are 25 tried & true essentials for cold weather travel and the perfect winter packing list.

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Living in California makes us antsy for winter. We crave snow and cold weather and yearn for hot mulled cider and a crackling fire. The good news is that living in the San Francisco Bay Area means snow is only a few hours away from us, so we’ve developed a habit of taking weekend getaways to explore snowy destinations in California like Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. And every year around Christmas, we jet off somewhere cold, like Europe or Canada.

We love frolicking in the snow just as much as some folks love laying on a beach, but we’ve learned to pack carefully to prepare our coastal California bodies for legitimate cold. You know, like the Norwegian Arctic. Now that was a cold trip.

In this post we’re laying out all of our favorite, field-tested essentials for winter travel, from gear to clothing. If you’ve ever read any of our guides before, we’re REAL persnickety about stuff, so please excuse us if we nerd out and like, wax poetic about the scientific properties of merino wool or whatever. We live for that sh*t. Spoilers: you’re gonna learn a lot about merino wool in this post.

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Wondering where to take a snowy winter trip this year? Here are some of our favorite destinations. You can also read all of our posts about traveling in the winter (you get bonus points for binge reading, y’all) .

Hey, need a handy dandy checklist to help you pack? We’ve got a printable version of this post that includes EVERYTHING you’ll need for your trip. Sign up in the box below and we’ll deliver it right to your inbox. Just call us the fairy godmother of packing lists!

Printable Winter Packing List

This FREE 3-page printable packing list will help make sure you don’t forget anything for your next winter trip. We’ll also send you our favorite travel tips!

Awesome! Check your email for the PDF. Make sure to add contact@practicalwanderlust.com to your address book so we don’t end up in spam!

Lia and Jeremy in Leavenworth, Washington.

Bundled up in Leavenworth, Washington!

How to Pack Winter Clothes into a Carry-On

Before I started traveling regularly to snowy destinations to get my winter fix on, I wasn’t sure if it was actually possible to pack light for winter travel. I mean, isn’t everything insanely bulky?!

Well, after backpacking through Europe in December and January with nothing but a backpack, we learned that yes, it IS possible – and you can absolutely pack all your winter clothes in a carry on! (Psst: read all of the posts we’ve written about visiting Europe in the winter.)

Here’s the trick: wear all of your heaviest stuff on your travel days – like your bulky jacket, that scarf that’s as big as a blanket, and so on.

Other than your bulky stuff, everything else you pack should be soft, lightweight, and travel-friendly – and you want your clothes to pull double duty so you don’t need as many of them overall.

We’ll talk more about this below, but in order to achieve the difficult goal of packing light for winter travel we get REAL nerdy about textiles. And no, it’s not just because Lia has a degree in fashion design. Well OK, that does help a lot, actually.

Like, a merino wool sweater will keep you roughly 86252526x as warm as an acrylic sweater, meaning you have fewer layers overall that you need to bring.

The beauty of winter travel is that 99% of the time, all anyone is going to see is the very outer layer of your clothing. So as long as you’ve got clothes that can withstand being worn over and over again, you really don’t actually need to bring very many items.

Our typical cold weather packing list looks something like this (we’ll get into specifics in a bit):

  • Two pairs of pants. We both bring our favorite pair of travel jeans. I bring a pair of warm leggings, and Jeremy brings a pair of chinos to spice things up.
  • 2-3 Sweaters. We look for a few neutral-colored sweaters that are made from at LEAST 20% merino wool and aren’t bulky.
  • 2-3 Collared Shirts. These get layered under the sweaters for a variety of spiffy sweater/collared shirt looks. I dress mine up with statement necklaces and Jeremy dresses his up with scarves and a well-groomed ginger beard. You’d hardly even know we were backpackers! ... Except for the fact that we’re carrying backpacks. And sleeping in hostels. Still, though.
  • 1-2 T-Shirts. These get layered underneath our other clothing as needed and worn to bed. I also bring a cardigan so that I can mix things up from the whole sweater/collared shirt situation on those warm, balmy 40 degree days. My favorite t-shirts to wear in cold weather are made of hemp, which is naturally insulating and anti-bacterial, just like wool.
  • 1 Skirt: To switch things up from the ol’ sweater routine, I bring a cute skirt that I can wear with my t-shirts, button-down shirts, or sweaters. I wear leggings or tights underneath to keep my legs warm, and a little belt to dress it up. Bam: that’s like, TRIPLE the outfit options.
  • 1-2 Scarves. You’ll be wearing these every day and they’ll be in every picture. So if there’s one accessory you’re really going to be extra about, make it your scarves! I have a scarf collection that spans every color, so I usually match her scarves to her sweaters when deciding which to bring. Jeremy … has one scarf. It is a good scarf. It is dark grey.
  • 1-2 Hats. Jeremy brings a gray beanie that goes with everything, and I bring a couple of hats in different colors. You know, for accessorizing.
  • 2 Jackets: We each wear our bulky outer jacket, and bring another jacket that squishes down really small and weighs almost nothing.
  • 1 Pair of Shoes: Yep, really, just one. We’ve each found the PERFECT pair of boots for cold weather and they’re all we need to bring. Plus we wear them every day so we don’t even have to bother packing them in our bags.
  • Toiletries/Makeup/Gear/Yadda Yadda. We try to keep this bit as lightweight as possible – Lia has mastered the art of packing travel makeup and we’ve managed to get all of our gear to fit into one single packing cube.

Whoop, there it is: one carry-on bag each. Er, plus our camera bag. Annnnnnd a day bag. We wear those in front. So like … two carry-on bags each. STILL COUNTS, EUROPEAN BUDGET AIRLINES.

Snowboarding in Banff, Canada in the winter.

Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, or just snow-watching from inside a cozy cabin, it’s important to dress appropriately! Jeremy here is modeling appropriate snowboarding gear in Banff, Canada at the same time as balancing on a snowboard. How does he do that?!

Winter Travel Essentials

From guarding against horrifyingly dry air to what to carry all your stuff around in, here are a few of our travel essentials for your next cold-weather vacation.

  • Winter Sports Gear: Between the two of us, Jeremy snowboards a few times a year and I’ve been snowshoeing exactly 3 times and taken 1 ski lesson. So we’re not like, extreme athletes or anything. But if you’re planning to try a few winter sports on your trip, bringing a few things can easily be packed in your suitcase will save you cash on rentals. Jeremy recommends these goggles and these gloves. If the snow is hard enough, these travel-friendly crampons that go over your regular hiking boots are all you need for snowshoeing. For clothing – which is also perfect for snowshoeing or other outdoor sporting adventures – he wears his hiking pants over his wool under-layer, with waterproof rain pants on over top if he anticipates a lot of snow contact. On top, he layers a wool long sleeve shirt with his rain jacket, plus his packable down jacket when he needs an extra warm layer. Here are the femme equivalents of all of those items: rain pants, hiking pants, wool leggings,wool shirt,rain jacket,packable down jacket.
  • Chapstick & Moisturizer: The air in winter is dry as a bone. You’d think like, snow might help, but no. Spend a few days adventuring in the winter and you’re gonna end up with chapped lips and thirsty, parched skin! So I highly recommend carrying some good quality chapstick with you during your trip. I also recommend using a heavy moisturizer on your face every night, plus something you can use for chapped skin elsewhere, like your elbows, feet, and hands. I’m obsessed with this Burt’s Bees salve; Jeremy and I slather it on ourselves religiously during the winter.
  • Travel Insurance: At this point in our lives, we never travel anywhere without travel insurance. We’re way too accident-prone to risk it! We’ve filed several claims with World Nomads, so at this point, our insurance policies have all paid for themselves. Not sure if that’s like, a good thing, or just a sign that we should probably lock ourselves indoors and barricade the room with pillows…
  • Bra Pocket or Money Belt: So, confession: I can’t stand purses. It’s not just because they’re easily snatched and stolen. They’re also just a giant hassle. From leaving them behind to aching shoulders to getting tangled up in coat sleeves, purses and I just do not get along. But putting your money in your pocket in an easy-to-snatch wallet is a terrible idea, so my travel solution is a handy little Bra Pocket. It snaps onto my bra and hangs out inconspicuously between the girls, ready the moment I need to take out a card. Nothing got lost or stolen, especially since it’s buried underneath 18 layers of scarves and sweaters. I highly recommend one. I’ll never go back to purses & wallets! As for dudes or anyone else living that bra-free life, Jeremy wears a money belt.
  • Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card also offers fantastic travel perks, like no foreign transaction fees, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, all of which helps protect us on our travels. We’ve filed several claims and the card has saved our butt many times! We’ve got a full review of the card. (Psst: shopping for your upcoming trip? You can put your purchases on the card to help you meet the sign-up bonus minimum spend!)
  • Day Bag: You’ll want a bag with you to store things like extra layers, your camera, a phone charger, snacks, and whatever trinkets you pick up while you’re out exploring – you know, the essentials. I carried this super cute day bag with me every single day packed with my packable down jacket, an extra pair of gloves, and anything else I needed for the day. We also have this theft-resistant camera bag specifically for our camera gear, because we’re extra AF professional bloggers or whatever. If you don’t have like … camera gear, you probably don’t need it, but if you do, it’s REALLY nice.
  • Carry-On Luggage: We recommend packing everything into carry-on luggage – it saves you money on flights, and it’s way easier than schlepping around a giant suitcase! We already covered our tips for packing light for winter travel above, but there’s one last thing you’ll need: a carry-on bag. If you’re partial to backpacks, this PacSafe bag is comfortable, roomy, and as theft deterrent as it gets – it’s our go-to backpack for carry-on travel. It’s also perfect for tossing comfortably on your back and navigating through icy cobblestone streets, running through train stations and airports, or carrying up to a wintry cabin. But if you prefer rolling luggage, the Away suitcase is as beautiful as it is high-tech, with a built-in portable charger, an incredibly durable exterior, tons of space, and a built-in dirty laundry compressor (whaaaaat, game-changing).
  • Travel-Friendly Camera: Although our camera of choice is a hefty, professional-grade Sony A7R II, you don’t need all that to get great photos of your vacation. All you need is a travel-friendly pocket-sized Canon Powershot, which appears deceptively cheap and old-fashioned to potential thieves but actually takes AMAZING photos. This is what we used before we eventually upgraded to our pricey DSLR. If you’ll be going snowboarding or taking sweeping landscape shots, a GoPro is a great choice.

Clothing to Pack for Winter Travel

Here are our recommendations for clothing that’s both functional AND super cute to wear on winter trips! These are our tried and tested essentials. No vague suggestions here, just the actual pieces of clothing that make it into our suitcases for every single winter trip we take.

Underneath Your Clothes

THERE’S AN ENDLESS STORY … THERE’S THE MAN I CHOSE, THERE’S MY TERRITORY! Sorry, that’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. But Shakira is a queen, so.

ANYWAY, back to things that are actually useful: what to wear underneath your clothes (see, you just sang that, didn’t you) to help regulate your body temperature.

The goal isn’t just to keep heat in, but also to prevent you from overheating when you walk inside a 70-degree building after running around in 30-degree weather outside.

You know that feeling – the “oh god I’m so hot is this what hypothermia feels like because I need all these layers off of me RIGHT NOW” feeling. It’s usually followed shortly thereafter with the “how am I so sweaty it’s 30 degrees outside” feeling. Ick. No thank you.

We cannot stress enough how amazing merino wool is at preventing you from having to use the word moist to describe yourself. Ugh, did anyone else just audibly shudder?

Merino wool is a travel miracle fabric.

It keeps you warm when it’s cold out, but it keeps you cool when it’s hot out – and it wicks and regulates moisture too, so that even if you do get a lil’ sweaty inside, you’ll dry quickly and still be nice and warm when you step back outside into the cold.

Merino wool is also naturally antibacterial, meaning even if you wear it for 2 weeks straight every single day, it won’t smell. Er, yes, we’ve tested that… for science, you know.

Also, fun fact: it’s flame retardant, too, so ya know. Handy. I guess now we know why sheep are so dumb: all of their intelligence is in their extremely high tech, super engineered fluffy coats.

We recommend stocking up on a full merino wool base layer, so you’ve got wool from head to toe. Depending on which country you’re in or how cold it is that day, you can layer up underneath any of your other outfits to instantly add extra insulating warmth to any outfit.

We also wear our merino base layers to sleep at night, because they are cozy and warm and wonderful and never smell and they’re just magical.

If you’re allergic to wool, or adverse to wearing it, you’ll also find great base layer options in silk. Just be sure to avoid non-insulating fabrics like cotton, which feels cold when wet – you literally risk hypothermia when you wear cotton in the cold. Don’t do it!

Here are the base layer items we bring with us on every winter trip, plus silk alternatives if you’d prefer not to wear merino wool.

15 Best Winter Travel Clothes for Cold Weather

15 Best Winter Travel Clothes for Cold Weather

The winter season is always a time when everybody wants to keep warm and heated. If you are a traveler, don’t let the cold weather stop you from visiting your favorite places.

This rank is not sorted from worst to best as it is really hard to choose the best product. Either way, this guide will help you!

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Best Winter Travel Clothes for Cold Weather

Winter travel clothes should not be difficult to choose from, you just have to match your outfit with your mood and personality.

So here are 15 great options for you on freezing times:

15) Beanies

Carhartt Beanie

Beanies are an excellent option if you are planning on traveling to a cold place or city.

Beanies will never let you down. They are cheap, unisex, easy to use, and look great on everyone.

Unlike many other clothes, beanies are an awesome option for traveling because they are small and their weight is very light. Also, they come in a wide variety of colors so you will have a lot to choose from.

Knowing they don’t weigh much is enough reason to keep an eye on beanies.

Winter travel cloathes

Don’t miss out on the best options on Amazon. You can also get discounts if you buy them before or after the winter season.

A good-quality beanie cost around $12 – $20.

Pros: Photos are amazing with beanies. You will look artistic in pictures, especially in beautiful landscapes or skylines.

Cons: if it’s not cold at all or the temperature goes up fast, beanies can make you sweat and maybe make you feel a little bit uncomfortable.

14) Acrylic Scarfs

wintertime outfit

Together with beanies, scarves are another great choice during cold times.

You will look great in them. There is no possibility you miss this one.

Scarves come in all sorts of colors, sizes, and styles. However, the feature you should look at first is the fabric, and acrylic is the absolute best fabric you can aim for.

Scarves are also a fabulous cold-weather outfit because they are light-weighted clothes and don’t occupy much space.

You can also personalize them or buy them with your favorite movie superhero, character, sports team, and much more!

As you can see, scarves are too adaptable and the best of all is they protect you from cold weather.

Another advantage? Well, they are cheap, you can purchase one for only $10 and you can find them on Amazon with discounts! so don’t waste more and go get one!

wintertime outfit

Pros: scarves are multifaceted. You will look stunning wearing them if you combine them with the right outfit.

Cons: They can make you feel hot if the temperature is not cold, so make sure you are traveling to a cold place. Otherwise, they can be unpleasant to wear.

13) Touchscreen Gloves

cold weather outfit

Gloves are a must in colder temperatures, but when it comes to the best ones, you have to go for the touchscreen.

The reason is as evident as it sounds. However, let’s get a closer look at them and why you should get one pair just now.

Firstly, they are comfortable and warm, which is the most relevant feature. They are also soft and will keep your hands warm for running, hiking, or cold-weather weather.

This kind of glove has a touch-sensitive and anti-slip palm. They are convenient for traveling as they do not occupy much space in the baggage.

What else can you ask for? Go now to Amazon and purchase your touchscreen gloves and you will never have to expose your hands to the cold weather again.

Pros: With touchscreen gloves, you can use your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger. This peculiarity guarantees you won’t have to remove the glove to utilize your phone.

Cons: Many customers claim these gloves don’t keep your hands too warm when the temperature is below 0º.

12) Double-Breasted Trench Coat (for Women)

warm clothes for winter travel

Ladies, this one is for you.

When the temperature is unbearable, a double-breasted trench coat is what you need.

The 100% polyester softshell fabric will keep you stay dry during light rains in the winter season. It quickly dries and as it is a lightweight material, it’s perfect for traveling.

You may think it is uncomfortable and demanding to carry, but in reality, the package is comfortable and it is easy to carry.

Even though the fabric is not particularly heavy, it will provide you a satisfying warmth. Besides that, these coats come in a diversity of colors to chose from.

While traveling, hang it before you wear it. It will become a clean ironed coat, which is a must-have option if you want to keep light and seemly during trips!

Pros: The polyester works super well as anti-wrinkle, so you can save time and avoid ironing while on travel.

Cons: Depending on how tall you are, it can fit perfectly, or it might fit short or slightly longer on the arms.

11) Long Single-Breasted Trench Coat (for Men)

outfit for cold weather

Guys, you better take a look at this.

What you are about to see is the highest quality trench coat out there for men. And in this case, one of the best options for winter travel clothes.

The long single-breasted trench coat not only protects you from cold temperatures, but it also makes you look elegant.

This wool fabric coat is lightweight, yet strong. That makes it reasonably durable and long-lasting. It is not so difficult to pack even though it is long.

Pros: the fabric is 60% wool, which makes it ideal for cold temperatures. It is also water-resistant, so it’s an excellent option for snowy and rainy weather.

Cons: it is indeed beautiful. Though, it seems they tried to combine various styles into just one coat.

10) Turtleneck Pullover Sweater (for Women)

winter travel clothes

Ladies, you can’t say this list doesn’t care about you. After reading this, you will always have the best winter travel clothes.

That’s why you should need to invest in a turtleneck pullover sweater.

The obvious reason: it protects you from cold.

The main reason: you will look gorgeous wearing it.

You can wear these long-sleeve turtleneck sweaters while traveling, in a casual meeting, at a job, at parties, and other events. They are especially amazing for the winter because they will keep you warm all season long.

You will stand out in pictures wearing one of these, that is a fact. They also come in different colors to choose from.

To have an idea of which of them to buy, take a look at Amazon to see the best offers.

winter travel clothes

Pros: They are comfortable, thick, and not itchy. Fits perfectly.

Cons: if you are a tall woman, maybe it might not fit long. However, you will still receive compliments because they look great.

9) Pullover Hoodie sweatshirt (for Men)

freezy temperature clothes

Boys around here, keep if cool because this ranking is also for you.

If you want to look great and with style during winter, this hoodie is for you.

A man can’t look bad in this, it is impossible.

The soft fabric will make you feel comfortable at all times, and the design will make you look stylish.

A great option for winter travel clothes. You can wear it at the airport, train station, or bus station, it is simply amazing.

Moreover, it is great for daily workout, it works well for athletic and training wear.

It is the perfect gift for Christmas, birthday, or if you truly appreciate someone and want to demonstrate it, give him this present.

freezy temperature clothes

Pros: ideal for daily wear, travel, work out, walk, at home, on Christmas, and other casual occasions.

Cons: As cool as it seems, it is not the best option for extreme cold weather, however. There are more winter travel clothes on this list for those kinds of temperatures, so keep reading!

8) MOERDENG Waterproof Ski Jackets

best travel outfits for wintertime

The ultimate cold-weather outfit for traveling is here.

This is the best seller jacket right now on Amazon, and it is the best option for freezing temperatures.

For traveling, MOERDENG really succeeded in this one. What a great jacket.

But what makes them special?

Well, aside from that they look great, they are waterproof, windproof and also shield you from bad rainy or foggy weather. They keep your body always dry, warm, and comfortable when you are outdoor.

Perfect for severe cold weather, they will never let you down. They are made for both men and women.

Pros: they are multipurpose. You can not only travel to cold places with them but also do sports with them such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow sports, and other winter outdoor sports.

Cons: they are beautiful jackets. However, unlike the other winter travel clothes on this list, they only work properly in colder temperatures such as 10º or below.

7) Alo Yoga Long Sleeve Top (for Women)

best travel outfits for wintertime

For all the women out there reading this, here is an excellent option for the early winter season.

Alo Yoga presents the long sleeve top you will always want to wear for wintertime trips.

This is one of those winter travel clothes you fall in love with. It is so convenient and you can wear it at any time.

You can give it as a present to your mom, sister, wife, girlfriend, and you will live forever in her heart.

So get ready for your next trip and add this long sleeve top to your chart on Amazon!

Pros: comfortable, lightweight, ideal for any casual occasion and trips.

Cons: better for the early winter season.

6) WenVen Hooded Warm Coat (for Men)

winter travel gear

When it comes to wintertime, there is always a great outfit alternative. However, WenVEn is at the top of the ranks with this hooded coat.

It is comfortable and designed to keep the cold out. The zipper closure and stand collar around the neck will definitely get you warm in the wind, freezing, and snowy days.

Also, it is a good choice for both daily life and outdoor activities like traveling, running, biking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing, camping, walking while in cold temperatures.

Pros: affordable price. It really does the job to keep you warm and has multiple pockets that help keep your gloves, phone, and earphones to name a few.

Cons: Only for extreme cold weather use. Otherwise, you will feel uncomfortable in it.

5) Boots

winter packing list

Let’s interrupt the upper body outfit for a second and take a look at the amazing options you have for boots.

For women, take a look at the Columbia Ice Maiden II Boots. They are strong, yet feminine, and waterproof. Without a doubt, purchasing boots that protect you from cold temperatures and make you look stylish is the way to go!

For men, Merrell has for you the unique Thermo Chill Waterproof Sneaker. Just look at them, they are amazing and will keep your feet shield from the extreme cold.

winter packing list

Add them to your winter travel clothes as soon as you can!

4) Pants

warm travel clothes for winter

Jeans are essential winter travel clothes and you will see incredible options for both men and women.

Ladies, please go to Amazon and see the amazing CHRLEISURE Winter Warm Fleece Lined Leggings. It will make you look beautiful and stylish at the same time.

But the most important feature is, of course, they protect you from cold weather!

Men have also a cool alternative for jeans when traveling. On Amazon, you can find the PASOK Winter Thicken Jeans; they are easy to match with other winter travel clothes and will keep you warm.

warm travel clothes for winter

Don’t hesitate, these jeans are an easy option.

3) WenVen Waterproof Coat (for Women)

extreme cold temperature outfit

Another masterpiece courtesy by WenVen.

The fluffy artificial cotton will secure your body’s temperature no matter how cold is outside.

This coat is perfect for a daily outfit, and if you are planning a trip to a cold destination this is one of the winter travel clothes you would like to pack.

Besides that, it is good for going to work on freezing and snowy days as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, camping, driving, and many others.

Pros: it is also waterproof so on cold rainy days you will remain dry and warm.

Cons: Other than only use it during colder weather, there is not any downside with this coat.

2) NITAGUT Long Sleeve Cardigan (for Men)

outfits for traveling in winter

We have seen many great winter travel clothes. Nevertheless, this one will make you look like the most stylish and elegant man out there.

The high-quality 100% cotton fabric gives a smooth and satisfactory wearing experience.

Just take a look at it, it’s stunning. This cardigan comes in various colors and depending on your style, you will look amazing.

It is especially good for the early winter season. So don’t wait much longer to get one and visit Amazon!

Pros: this cardigan is not only great as one of the winter travel clothes you should have on your repertory but is also great for a daily outfit, casual events, work, parties, outdoor activities, dinners, business meetings, and even job interviews.

Cons: if you are a tall man, unfortunately, this cardigan will fit short on you as it targets men 6’0 or shorter.

1) MEROKEETY Long Sleeve Soft Cardigan (for Women)

outfits for traveling in winter

Let’s be honest, what kind of guy doesn’t like a girl who wears a cardigan?

Girls, you look perfect in cardigans and MEROKEETY brings a good one for you. This should be on your winter travel clothes list.

The 100% polyester is so soft and smooth that you will never want to take it out. Moreover, you can combine them with jeans, high heels, boots and you will look sexy.

Pros: it is convenient for many daily activities such as working, shopping, partying.

Cons: it may fit larger on a short girl.

Related Resources

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Arctic Clothing: Extreme Cold Weather Gear for Women

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Traveling to a destination with subzero temperatures? Read these tips on how to choose the best arctic clothing to find out the best below zero clothing and gear for women!

Extreme Arctic Clothing Brand Ideas

by Anubha Momin

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My name is Anubha and I am a writer, blogger, and ice cream enthusiast who lives Iqaluit, a remote Arctic town in northern Canada. Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut, Canada’s newest and largest territory, and home to about 7000 people.

Finding temperatures are below freezing eight months of the year, meaning Iqalummiut (people who live in Iqaluit) are really, really knowledgeable about extreme cold weather gear.

Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:

How long have you lived in the arctic?

I moved to Iqaluit almost two years ago from my hometown of Toronto, Ontario. Wow, time flies fast when you’re having frozen fun!

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What was the most surprising thing you’ve learned about extreme cold weather clothing for women?

The most important fact about dressing for sub-zero temperatures is a Travel Fashion Girl mantra as well: choose the best fabrics. Bulky fabrics won’t necessarily make you feel warmer!

You have to choose the right cold weather fabrics and layer your items strategically as explained below. Wind-proofing, for example, is vital; if you can cut out the wind, you can reduce the feeling of coldness.

extreme-cold-weather-gear

The best winter clothes for women are made of high quality fabrics, like GORE-TEX (a windproof, waterproof, breathable material) or Merino wool is key.

While these premium products are sold at an equally premium price, it is worth it for your safety and comfort, and well-made garments will last you for years.

You can still pack your travel capsule wardrobe in a small suitcase even when traveling in cold weather by using packing cubes to compress your clothing shown in this video.

extreme-cold-weather-gear

What are people’s biggest misconceptions about arctic gear clothing?

People always assume that warm clothes for women always have to be big, thick, and bulky.

While it is impossible to avoid some weight, you are much more likely to feel warm, and comfortable, if you wear several lighter layers, rather than one heavy coat. This also gives you the opportunity to remove or add layers as needed.

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How do you layer extreme winter clothing?

This depends on the climate, temperature, and activity, but for our coldest days, my extreme weather clothing layers include:

Note: If I’m not going to be outside for long, then I omit the snowpants and run to my car.

extreme-cold-weather-gear

At WITS14, you spoke about how much you love merino wool. Why does this fabric make cold weather clothes for women so special?

Merino wool is sort of like a miracle fabric: it’s lightweight but insulating, natural but quick-drying. Perfect for arctic clothing!

extreme-cold-weather-gear

The wool is also breathable and has anti-microbial properties, which means you can wear your Merino wool long underwear for days without worrying about scaring off your cabin or tent mates!

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Can you recommend specific winter gear for women?

For base layers, I recommend purchasing 100% Merino wool tops and bottoms from Icebreaker. I’ve found Icebreaker products perform very well in terms of fit, durability, and temperature regulation – I’ve had no problem throwing them in with the laundry!

I would also recommend their socks and undies, if you want to go for a full-wool ensemble. They’re some of the best options I’ve found for arctic clothes.

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In terms of style and weight, I find myself reaching for the Icebreaker Everyday Long Underwear Leggings in 200gm and the Oasis Long Sleeve Crew in 200gm. If I could add anything to my Icebreaker collection, it would be the Tech Top Long Sleeve Half Zip.”

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What are the best womens winter coats for extreme cold?

Another amazing layering piece is a down-filled jacket. These jackets are light, thin, super warm, and perfect for wearing under other coats when you need an extra bit of warmth.

I’ve found the Hooded CirrusLite Down Jacket from Eddie Bauer to be some of the best winter coats for extreme cold, because they’re streamlined and very easy to roll up and squish into a backpack.

Having the option to add or remove a layer of your extreme cold weather gear is key when you’re out on the land so that you can accommodate temperature fluctuations and adjust your outfit to suit various activities.

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Another popular one that’s a bit longer and robust is the Columbia Lay D 550 down fill parka which has Omni-heat (a heat reflective coating), which is lightweight and keeps the body toasty in even the harshest of weather.

Having the option to add or remove a layer of your extreme cold-weather gear is key when you’re out on the land so that you can accommodate temperature fluctuations and adjust your outfit to suit various activities. You can also check out this article for more down parkas!

Find out the most stylish and practical options best down jacket for your cold weather travels!

What extreme cold weather shoes do you recommend?

I have several pairs of arctic boots to accommodate Iqaluit’s varied temperatures and terrain. Not surprisingly, they are all from Canadian companies!

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SHOES FOR EXTREME COLD WEATHER

Impact by Baffin Boots are rated to -100C/-148F*, meaning they will keep your toes toasty until about -40C. I’ve worn these for prolonged periods of time in the dead of winter, when temperatures dip well below -30C, and my feet have been passably comfortable at worst, and warm most of the time.

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SHOES FOR MODERATE COLD WEATHER

I love these arctic shoes . They’re rated to about -32C/-25F. These are incredibly comfortable and the waterproof construction and thick, non-slip rubber soles also make them ideal for dealing with over rough terrain, or anytime you need a little more agility in your heels. This article covers even more top winter boots that the epitome of warm and protective.

SHOE SIZING

I would recommend purchasing a pair that is slightly larger than your regular size, as tight-fitting shoes will not work to keep your feet warm.

Just a note about temperature ratings: There is no industry standard method to rate boots or jackets, thus, the temperature rating is the manufacturer’s estimate of the degree to which the article of clothing will be able to keep out the cold.

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What extreme cold weather accessories do you recommend?

Accessories should include a warm hat which is key; look for something that has a fleece lining for extra coziness and warmth. At Arctic temperatures, it’s often necessary to also wear a face mask or balaclava.

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When it comes to your hands, layering again is key, especially if you want to maintain the option for dexterity. For very, very cold temperatures, I would recommend thin, Merino wool gloves that you can fit under very warm mitts.

This layering will give you the ability to perform more finite movements, like opening a container or tying rope, without exposing your skin to the elements.

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My favorite cold-weather mitts are made from wolf skin, but if wolf mitts are in scarce supply in your town, look for something that has good insulation and long cuffs, like this pair from Terramar. Again, make sure your mitts are not tight, or you will risk freezing your fingers.

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If the weather is a warmer but still below freezing, try your hand at a pair of SealSkinz gloves (not actual sealskin, which is also super warm).

The Ultra Grip Gloves have three layers: an outer shell that allows for grip and movement, a middle layer that is totally waterproof, and a built-in Merino wool liner for warmth and comfort. These are the best gloves you can own if you need to work outside in the cold.

They can also be worn under big winter mitts (just make sure the mitts are big enough to accommodate the SealSkinz and your hands without cramping).

What are the top five essentials you recommend for someone traveling to an extremely cold destination?

Without question if you’re living in or traveling in the arctic, my essential extreme cold weather gear includes:

  1. Layered arctic clothing: This includes base layers, but also mid layers and other garments that allow for maximum heat retention.
  2. Chapstick: I mentioned this in my arctic survival gear post, but I never leave home without some kind of lip balm. Look for something that is moisturizing and also contains SPF.
  3. Sunscreen: Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburnt! Choose a solid sunscreen, like this one from Neutrogena, because liquid sunscreen will freeze. Or review this full roundup of sunscreens!
  4. Fur: Without question, fur provides a ton of warmth and protection from the elements. In Nunavut, fur from coyotes, wolves, polar bears, seals, and other animals are used as trim for hoods and material for jackets, mitts, pants, and boots.
  5. Sunglasses or goggles: As I stated earlier, the wind is your worst enemy, so it is absolutely imperative that you have some way to protect your eyes from the gusty onslaught. Make sure they’re polarized to reduce glare and prevent snow blindness. See this post for a list of durable, polarized sunglasses!

Any additional tips to share about sub zero clothing or accessories?

The tips and tricks listed here aren’t only applicable to extremely cold arctic weather; they can also be used for very cold city weather!

Merino wool base layers and down sweaters are very, very thin, and so can be worn under most clothing. I’ve tucked mine under skinny jeans and peacoats, allowing me to maintain a sense of style without compromising comfort.

I may use these items as arctic clothing but you can also use them for other cold weather destinations too – just wear less layers!

Here’s a list of our favorite thermal layers to ensure you pack light and stay warm!

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What extreme cold weather gear do you recommend? Share in the comments below!

For more ideas on what to wear in cold weather, please read:

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29 Comments

Hi Alex and Anubha,
I agree, the red parka is gorgeous! For what it’s worth, I became acquainted with the value of fur in the AF as they used to make real down parkas with fox or coyote fur around the hood. There are still a few camping and hunting places that carry coats made this way, and with fur trim. Also used to be able to get beautiful anoraks and mukluks from Alaska. I bought fur pieces from a
local hunter and have sewn pieces around all my heavy winter coat hoods!
It keeps ice and snow from freezing around your face and wrists. When the wind, snow and cold hit, you’ll be glad it’s there! Also added to my boot tops, gloves etc. where snow and wind get in.
Fake fur doesn’t work that way! 8,000 plus ft. In the Colorado mountains will teach this very fast!
Connie

You keep coming back to Marino wool. Only problem is, I’m allergic to wool. What do you recommend in place of that?

Hi Lisa, thank you for your question. Have a look at this article for some suggestions for alternatives to merino wool: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/best-alternative-to-merino-wool/ If you are looking for thermals, you might like Terramar Thermasilk Silk Thermal Underwear which are made with 100% silk pointelle knit, you can find them here: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/best-thermal-underwear-for-women/ Hope this helps. Happy travels! ?

What is the best coat for snowmobilers?

Hi Laura, thank you for your question. Would something like the Columbia Carson Pass Jacket work for snowmobilers: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/columbia-jacket-review/ Sorry I could not have been of more help. For the best recommendations, I would highly suggest that you join our TFG facebook group and post your question there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelfashiongirls/ Its a fabulous community of helpful female travelers that have the best advice and recommendations to share. Happy travels! ?

Merino wool. Yes! Icebreaker layers in Europe in winter under elegant tops and skirts. Keep cosy while hunting in northern B.C. Layered under camo. I’ve used lightweight merino for back up in tropics, hike etc. Can go weeks no washing and still fresh. My go to layers.

Source https://practicalwanderlust.com/cold-weather-travel-winter-packing-list/

Source https://viatravelers.com/winter-travel-clothes/

Source https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/arctic-clothing-extreme-cold-weather-gear-for-women/

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