It might seem strange that I just returned from a vacation to Mexico, yet here I am suggesting packing travel tips for a winter trip! The truth of the matter is though, is that it is so easy to throw resort wear into a carry-on bag and set off to a sunny destination. Packing for a cold weather destination though? That requires a lot more thought! And with President’s Day weekend coming up and many families heading to the mountains for skiing, I thought I would share our family’s best practices over the years!
Packing for cold weather is one of those things that seems overwhelming at the time. After all, it requires winter clothes. Yet, it really does not require as many as you think! It really comes down to a checklist of essentials for staying warm. And once you know what you need, your checklist pretty much stays the same in future years!
I wish we could find time in our schedules to head west for skiing this year. There is nothing more peaceful then being among the Aspen trees and snow in the Colorado mountains. Even if you are not a skier, I still highly suggest doing a winter trip out west once in your lifetime. Snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and horseback riding are just some of the ways you can take in the breathtaking landscape. And no matter how you spend your day, Après ski is a must at the end of it!
Whether you are skiing, embarking on another winter activity or just enjoying the scenery at the base of the mountain, here is my checklist of what we consistently need and pack for a cold weather destination!
Packing List For Cold Weather
Base Layer here and here // Shell here // Ski Jacket here // Ski Pants here // Gore-Tex here and here // Mittens here // Sunnies here // Hat here // Hiking Pants here // Skincare here and here // Boots here // Wool Socks here // Camelback here
Long underwear has come a long way! Initially designed to provide an extra layer of warmth, “long underwear” nowadays needs to wick away sweat and keep you dry as well. Base layers should be form fitting but it shouldn’t be skin tight or extremely loose on you. Personally, I like to mix and match my base layers. Something a little looser on the top in a fun print and a little more form fitting neutral colored on the bottom. Depending on your activity and textile preference, here are some fabrics to consider:
Merino Wool: Merino wool base layers are anti-microbial, soft, non-itchy, great at regulating temperature, washable, and quick to dry.
ThermaSilk: A natural alternative to woolen long underwear are base layers made from ThermaSilk. Designed with 100 percent filament silk, ThermaSilk responds to your body’s changing conditions to keep you comfortable no matter what your activity level.
Patagonia Capilene®: Made from moisture-wicking polyester, Capilene® synthetic base layers wick moisture away from your skin, breathes efficiently and dries fast. These thermals are made from 92 percent recycled PET bottles. When you grow out of them, you can donate them back to Patagonia’s Common Threads program, which will recycle them again into another new garment.
Fabric Blend. If you are sensitive to natural fabrics, then they are lots of good options for fabric blends that still perform. Just make sure it covers the bases: thermal, breathable and sweat-wicking.
Depending on the temperature, I am sometimes just fine with a base layer, and my ski jacket. But if an additional layer is needed to stay warm, I like a wool or fleece shell. One that can also serve well as a top paired with denim for the evening.
If I am skiing, snow mobiling or horseback riding, I only wear a base layer and my snow pants. However, if you plan to ice skate, snow shoe or hike, I like having a water resistant fleece lined pair of pants for easier movement. For at night, I might pack one or two pairs of denim, but truth be told after a long day of skiing, we usually do not leave the condo after Après ski!
I break down my outwear into four layers for the top: Gore-Tex Shell, Ski Jacket, Down Jacket, Fleece Vest. And two layers for the bottom: Gore-Tex Shell, Ski Pant.
Gortex: If it snows in the mountains while you are out (which of course is what everyone wants) than you want to stay dry. A Gore-Tex shell is a a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane that keeps you completely dry. It also works great as a rain jacket throughout the year!
Ski Jacket: There are so many (fashionable!) ski jackets that are well insulated and water resistant. This is what I primarily ski in although I do bring a Gore-Tex shell as well and use that on the days it snows.
Down: A lightweight down is always a good idea to bring. One it serves as an extra layer underneath your ski jacket on really cold days. And two, it is a nice to wear out at night instead of your ski coat. If you want to by pass investing in a ski coat, a Gore-Tex shell and heavier down coat is a great combination for the outdoors.
Vest: I like a fitted fleece vest as another option for added warmth. I would wear this instead of down underneath my ski jacket.
Ski Pant: Similar to a ski jacket, there are lots of options for well insulated and water resistant ski pants. A Gore-Tex shell is again an option to wear over them.
No more than two pair of shoes are needed! Trust me! One pair of winter boots and maybe an extra pair of boots for wearing to dinner. There is snow and slush everywhere when you are out west and no one is walking around in a pair of heels (Aspen might be the exception!)
- Warm Hat
- Wool Socks (they are the best for keeping your feet warm)
- Ski/Winter Mittens (Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves!)
- Neck warmer
- Ski Helmet (for those skiing)
- Ski Goggles (for those skiing)
- Camelback Backpack (for staying hydrated at elevation, packing snacks and additional accessories)
- Polarized Sunglasses
- Sports Bra
- Swimsuit (for the hot tub at the end of the day!)
- Lounge Set
As much as I love being in the mountains out west, the elements can take a toll on your skin if you are not prepared. Pack plenty of chapstick and sunscreen. Yes, sunscreen. When you are skiing, the sunlight will hit your skin from two directions. The first is from direct light (the sun shines on your skin) The second is from reflection (sunlight is reflected off the snow and onto your skin). Also, when you are at altitude, there is less of the protective nature of the atmosphere. This decrease in protection allows more UV light to reach your skin than what would occur at sea level.
Also, pack plenty of moisturizer for afterwards. I also like adding a calming serum to my suitcase for additional soothing! This set from Maelove has been serving me well!
My Packing Tips for Winter Travel
Even though the clothes are heavy for winter travel, you can pack light. And depending on whether you are bringing additional equipment (snowboard, skis, ski boots), I swear you can get away with packing everything in a carry-on roller bag!
My number one packing tip for packing light and a using a carry-on for cold weather travel is to wear your heaviest winter clothes on the airplane to save room in your suitcase. This means your ski jacket and winter boots. Additionally, you can wear a pair of denim (then you really only need to pack one extra pair) and a base layer top and/or sweater.
My second packing tip is to utilize packing cubes. Packing cubes are always a huge help for compartmentalizing and organizing. I use this set of three and I go into much more detail on how use them here. For winter travel, here is how I break it down:
Small Packing Cube: In my smallest packing, I pack my wool socks, underwear, sports bra and swimsuit.
Medium Packing Cube: In my medium packing cube, I pack my base layers (two sets), sweater, a pair of denim (assuming you are wearing one set of the latter two on the airplane) hat, gloves, scarf and lounge set.
Large Packing Cube: In my large packing cube, I pack my snow pants, fleece vest, packable down coat and Gore-Tex shells.
This leaves with me enough room for one additional pair of shoes. Toiletries are added to my carry-on tote bag. My husband will wear the Camelback on the airplane. For those with ski helmets, we simply clip ours on to the outside of the roller bag!
When we are out west, we hit it hard during the day. After enjoying Apres ski at the end of the day, we usually head to the hot tub for a soak, shower up, get in our loungewear and make dinner. We will head to town one or two of the nights where a sweater and a pair of denim is more than fine! For us, winter travel means taking advantage of the mountains, relaxing and saving dressing up for back home!
For additional packing lists and tips head here!
Thanks for stopping by!