Packing for a beach vacation is easy. Throw in a couple bathing suits, a few sarongs and flip flops and maybe a little black dress or sundress with some bermuda pants for a guys and you’re good to go. Packing for a winter travel to go snowboarding, dogsledding or snowshoeing is a whole new ball game. When packing for winter travels, clothes are heavier and bulkier, and it can be difficult to know what coats, hats, scarves and mittens to bring. How much is too much? You don’t want to freeze, but you also don’t want the frustration of carrying too much with you.

Packing Tips for Winter Travel

We’ve been doing a lot of winter travels lately, and after a lot of trial and error I think we’ve figured it out.

winter travel packing tips

Layering is key for winter packing

When hitting the ski lodge or any winter destination, you don’t have to worry about dressing up too much. Most people sit in the bars Après-sk in their ski pants and jackets. We found that packing the bare minimum is all you’ll need. You’ll discover that you’ll end up wearing the same long johns and insulating layer for the entire week under your outer shells.

Note: This packing list is good for Skiing, Snowshoing, Dogsledding and any winter adventure that will take you outdoors for hours on end.

This is a Winter Travel Packing List for one person. 

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Base Layers, Socks and Boots

Base Layers: 

2 pair of Icebreaker leggings - Icebreaker is made of Merino Wool from New Zealand and you can wear it day in day out without odour. We bought the 260 weight for extreme cold temperature and the reason we bring two is so that we can change it up if one gets damp one day.

2 pair Mereno Wool Crew Shirts – Once again we bought the Icebreaker brand. It’s expensive, but it’s all we’ll need for the next decade and we’ll be able to use it on any mountain treks or winter trips to come. It’s important to have a base layer that wicks away moisture and we like having two pairs with us because we can change if anything is damp, if it needs to be cleaned or if we just want to change it up.

2 pairs of liner socks – Liner socks are lightweight and small, but perfect for wicking away moisture. It’s important to keep feet dry to keep them warm.

Mid Layers

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All the layers together

1 Canada Goose Hybridge light jacket – This lightweight down jacket has replaced our fleece layer. The hybridge light jacket is breathable and lightweight and is perfect for layering. It has become our most versatile jacket. When it’s really cold we wear it under our parka for extra warmth, but it is also perfect to wear under our shell. It’s also very stylish when sitting in the bar after being outside all day. We get so many compliments on them.

2 Pair of Canada Goose Tundra Down Cargo Pants – We have skipped the heavier fleece mid layer because we have found that these cargo pants are perfect. They are warm and breatheable and all we need in the cold. If we find ourselves out on a milder day, we just wear our Icebreaker Leggings with an outer shell and that is fine. But so far, the Cargo pants have been all we needed. When we get too warm, all we do is strip down our upper layers and that cools us off quick enough, no need to strip down our pants.

2 pair mid layer socks – The mid layer socks are thick warm wool socks that insulate our feet. Usually this is enough and we don’t have to add anymore, but when the temperatures get really cold, another outer layer is great.

Outer Shells. 

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Outer shells keep the wind away with layers underneath

1 pair of gortex pants – These are our waterproof lightweight gortex pants that are perfect for high activity in wet snow, freezing rain. As I said above, we now mostly wear our Goose Down Cargo Pants, but we still bring our lightweight gortex to be ready for any situation.

Canada Goose Moraine Shell Jacket - this is the perfect shell for outdoor activity. When put over the Hybridge light down jacket, it insulates from wind and rain and keeps the core warm. We’ve found that it worked for all outdoor activities. We wore the shell ice climbing, snowboarding snowshoeing and, ski joring.

Parkas

winter canada goose parka

Parka Keeps you warm in freezing conditions

Canada Goose Parka - Sometimes, it’s just too cold and you need some extra warmth. We converted many people on our crew in Alberta into parka lovers. When standing out on a cold lake or even going on an easy hike through caverns to look at ice waterfalls, our parkas kept us toasty warm. In Alberta over the holidays, we reached temperatures of 29 below zero not including the windchill. The parkas kept us from freezing.

Canada Goose is one of our sponsors. We have loved using Canada Goose in the past. Toronto and Vancouver film crews have been using them for over a decade and they have kept us and actors warm on set in the cold Canadian Winter. Now we are proud supporters of one of Canada’s best exports! Check out more at their website. 

Extremities. 

winter travel gloges

At least two pairs of gloves

Liner Gloves – We have just bought new liner gloves that are smart phone friendly. When out in temperatures below zero, fingers freeze quickly when you take your gloves off. In the days of Instagram and Twitter, we need to take photos with our touch sensitive iPhones, so having gloves that will swipe the screen without having to expose our skin is a lifesaver.

Canada Goose Northern Mitt - We prefer mittens over fingered gloves. The hand stays warmer and it’s easy to whip the mitten off if you have to take a photo or do anything that requires a little dexterity. With the liner glove protecting our skin, our hands stay warm.

Back up gloves or mittens - We always take at least two pairs of warm mittens as if one gets wet, you can wear another. There is nothing worse than cold fingers.

Organizing

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Our Eagle Creek Cubes can hold a lot

Eagle Creek Packing Cubes – All these loose odds and ends can be difficult to organize. We now pack everything in to our packing cubes and compression cubes to keep things organized. Winter items are bulky and filled with air and the compression cubes help a lot here. We stuff them into the cubes and then use the zipper to compress it down even more for extra space. We’ve become big fans. The only thing we wish we did was buy two different colours. We keep mixing up our cubes!

Head and Face

We bring two hats with us. One ultra warm to put on when resting at camp or lunch and a light hat to wear when doing activity. These have been our go to hats this winter.

Merino Cable Knit Beanie and an Arctic Tech Shearling Pilot Hat – These two hats are perfect. The merino beanie breathes and dries quickly while keeping the head warm and the pilot hat keeps everything toasty warm when not doing any activity or in extremely cold weather.

2 Buffs - We always bring two sets of buffs. They can be great for keeping the next warm and to be used as a light hat or headband.

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Different weights of hats, with buffs and balaclava

balaclava - We just added a balaclava to our packing list. We like the Multitask pro from MEC because it has a screen for breathing. Often the hot air when wearing a buff or scarf fogs up our sunglasses or goggles and the balaclava instead lets the air out the nose screen. This is really needed for extreme conditions.

Goggles - Goggles are a must for snowboarding or skiing, but we’ve found them to be excellent for skijoring and even snowshoeing. Your face stays so much warmer when it is covered and googles keep the eyes from water. We highly recommend having them in your cold weather kit for everything.

winter pack tips, duffel bag

It all fits in one nice duffel bag

Footwear

Besides your snowboarding or ski boots, all you need are two sets of boots. Hiking boots and something stylish to wear around the chalet.

Winter Hiking Boots - For trekking and other activities a good set of gortex hiking boots will fit all your needs.

Gaiters - Gaiters are waterproof boot leggings that go over your boots and up your calf. If you are walking in deep snow or slush, it will keep your pants dry and keep water from sinking in to your boots. If you are ice climbing, they will protect your expensive gortex pants. Instead of kicking your pants, you’ll be kicking your gaiters with those sharp spikes.

footwear, winter wear

Deb’s wearing gaiters over her climbing boots and her Canada Goose Moraine Shell Jacket

Mukluks or Moccasins - We recently made our own moccasins on a workshop with Lure of the North in Sudbury. We’ll be doing a 100 km trek with them to Northern Canada this month and they swear by them. Many people call Moccasins, Muklucks, but we’ve learned that Mukluks are made from Seal Skin and moccasins are made of dear hide. Either way, they are very warm, lightweight and comfortable. You can layer a lot underneath and they are perfect for extreme cold weather. Even dog musher Hank DeBruin of Winterdance suggested them for us to wear during our dogsledding adventure. If you happen to be in wet conditions you can buy outer waterproof skins at Mountain Equipment Co-op. Mukluks are fashionable to wear around the chalet and out for dinner too.

Our Winter Moccasins

Clothing for the Chalet. 

You really don’t need to bring much with you. As we said above, you will most likely find yourself in your base layers and shells most of the time and you will only need some clothes for a dinner out. At ski resorts and Northern holiday destinations, you never really have to worry about going glam. Everyone is relaxed and you can go out to eat in a pair of jeans.

2 nice tops and 2 pairs of pants - its all you will need to add to your winter packing list. You’ll be eating breakfast and lunch in your ski/hiking clothes and you can mix up your shirts for every other day the rest of the time. Nobody will be judging you. I promise.

Always have your swim suit with you!

Always have your swim suit with you, it was 30 below in Alberta but toasty at the Banff Hot Springs

Swimsuits and FlipFlops - Everywhere you go in cold weather vacation destinations, you’ll find the opportunity to sit in hot springs or hot tubs. Be sure to bring along your bathing suit so that you can enjoy sitting outside while basking in hot mineral water.

Toiletries

Stock up on chapstick, moisturizer and sunscreen. Winter cold is hard on the skin and your face will get chapped from the wind and cold. Have some soothing creams to keep you comfortable.

We’ll be traveling a lot this winter and will be giving tips and advice throughout. Follow along on Twitter at #DiscoverOntario.

Discover Ontario: Follow us for 2014 #DiscoverOntario

For the year of 2014 we’ll be taking part in Epic Ontario Adventures and we couldn’t be more excited to show off our home province. We hope you follow along at #Discover Ontario on Twitter and Instagram. And on Facebook too! In August we’ll be hosting a lucky winner of an amazing 7-day guided trip to Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest fresh water Island. For details on how to enter, order your Free Outdoor Ontario Calendar here. 

Follow OntarioTravel.net  for all things Ontario Travel and Ontario Outdoor for Great Ontario Outdoor Adventures and make sure to visit their updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Outdoor Ontario on Twitter and Facebook too!

For more information on travel to Sudbury visit Sudbury Tourism

For more information on our upcoming travels visit our Adventure Travel Calendar

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43 Comments

  1. Pingback: Packing Tips for Winter Travel – Ski, Snowshoe and other Adventures

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  3. Sarah

    Love this list. As an LA-native I never know what to pack when I visit my husband’s family in Toronto or go skiing. I usually end up over-layering and then sweating in the snow. I’ll be stashing this for the next trip!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      A lot of people make that mistake. It feels strange to strip down to your base layer when it’s freezing outside, but it works. Next time definitely give it a try.

  4. Irving

    Dave and Deb,
    This looks like way too much fun! I’m not a big fan of cold weather, but after seeing your post, I would really enjoy “playing in the snow” so-to-speak. Also the Banff hot springs looks so inviting and great way to end the day. Thanks for posting such an entertaining and light hearted post! I loved it!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Glad we could entice you to try playing in the snow! and yes indeed, those hot springs helped warm our toes and get us ready for the next day of cold indeed. At only $7 we could go every night too!

  5. Renuka

    This is a very helpful list for anyone traveling to a cold place. Although I am not fond of winters at all, I love the idea of layering myself with sweaters, jackets and overcoats. I am yet to experience a snow holiday and I think I’d need to follow your tips.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      It’s amazing stuff. Canada was made for the cold and these guys have been doing it for years. I love that they have added technical wear to their lines. WE used to only use them in the movie business for standing around in heavy parkas, now they are starting to develop everything.

  6. Kilee

    I love those moccasins! I feel like such a bad Canadian, I don’t own any. Not sure how they’d fare in wet Vancouver weather though ;)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Don’t worry Kilee, we didn’t own any until now. They wouldn’t be great for Vancouver though, they are definitely for more northern winters.

  7. alfa martino

    Your suggestions are all very helpful to me, because I will plan to go holiday to the sky, and most importantly your advice helped me because I was carrying a child age 8 years need to be well prepared in order to
    all safe

  8. Travis

    Admittedly, that’s a bit tough to throw in a carry on!

    Question is: What type of packs or luggage do you guys use?

    Also, I sat in that exact spot in the Banff Hot Springs, just 6 months prior…after taking a dip in the 35 degree F Moraine Lake. Now that was cold!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Hi Travis, sorry for the late reply, I just saw this question. We use Eagle Creek backpacks and Travel Pro and an Eagle Creek Roller. Our clothing and gear go into the backpacks and our electronics and camera equipment go into the rollers when we’re in transit. Then we transfer Dave’s camera gear over to his camera backpack when we get there. His F-Stop camera backpack goes into our packs when flying. When going snowboarding or trekking when we have extra gear, we use duffel bags as well.

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  10. Tawny of Captain and Clark

    Stop it! Chris and I have had our eyes on Canada Goose jackets for forever! We’re thinking of just taking the leap and investing in them before we head to Iceland in March. Glad to see they are Planet D approved! Can’t wait to rendezvous with you two in a few short weeks.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Tawny, they are amazing! We leant our parkas to the camera crew when we were doing our adventures and they were totally sold on it. The joke each day was “you are not getting these coats back!” We’ve never been more comfortable in the winter and this is a year that we have spent the most time outside in the brutal cold.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Good luck in Russia. It’s important to dress warm, it makes your trip far more enjoyable. If you are cold, you will be miserable and there is nothing that can change that. It is so worth investing.

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    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      It’s true, travel in winter requires more gear than going to the beach. But when you have it with you, it makes the cold weather much more bearable.

  12. Mark

    Impressive list. I adore cold weather so much. With these list I can pack more things and not forget a single one to bring when I definitely go skiing this month.

  13. Heather

    I’m moving to North-Eastern Europe this year and had no idea what to pack for what I am expecting to be bitterly cold winters. Thanks for sharing your expert tips!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Glad we could help. Yes, you are going to be facing some cold weather, but if you dress for it, you will really enjoy it. we used to not dress well and we suffered, now we bundle up wear layers and buy proper clothing, it helps so much. Head, feet and hands are so important too. There’s nothing better than going for a walk in the snow when you have all the right gear. You say, “Bring it on winter, I can take it!”

  14. Hotel Srinagar

    Yes, very true said that we have to do lots of packing for winter travel and trip. If you are planning a trip in winter season then it’s very important that you must pack winter jackets, gloves, snowshoes etc get protection for cold. You cannot ignore any single thing that you need while travelling. So be sure and confident about your packing before leaving for winter trip. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Haha! Aint that the truth. Canada Goose is pricey, but it will last a lifetime. We used it in the film business way back. They are the winter choice for filming outdoors. We’re excited to be working with them as we’ve always longed for their coats.

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