We love winter trips and understand that packing for winter is a whole different ballgame than packing for a summer trip. I’ve put together this winter clothing list for myself, so I am not scrambling around at the last moment trying to remember everything I need.
Some of our favorite winter experiences include:
- ice skating on Lake Bled in Slovenia
- cross-country skiing amid geysers in Yellowstone
- dog sledding in Bigfork, Montana
- soaking in hot springs in Montana and hot springs in Idaho
- a winter road trips which encompass a bunch of outdoor activities in western Montana
- skiing, soaking, art, and frozen waterfalls in central Montana
- skiing, snowshoeing, museums, and more in Red Lodge, Montana
- wandering through and ice cave in a Bavarian (Germany) National Park
- skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking in Slovakia
With all these trips, we need to make sure we do “warm packing.” We need all the layers to stay warm, safe, and comfortable, but not so much stuff that we can’t fit it all in our bags. That’s especially tricky with winter gear since it can be bulky.
I don’t know about you, but I keep a folder of packing lists on my computer and this winter packing list is going in there.
There are links to Dick’s Sporting Goods for all of these items. We like Dick’s for a couple of reasons. They have a wide variety of quality brands for women, men, and kids in all categories – apparel, footwear, and accessories. We can get almost everything we need to play outdoors all winter.
Since our teens change sizes every season (or more often!) I appreciate the affordable price point at Dick’s.
I also dig that there are different ways to shop — in person, online, and contactless curbside pick up.
Of course, the fact that they give 1% of sales on DSG (their store brand) to the non-profit, Sports Matter, makes me feel good about purchasing from them.
Packing For Winter
The first thing I like to think about when making my packing list for cold weather travel is finding items that work for both recreating outside and wearing around town. We are pretty casual, so that’s relatively easy. If you like to dress up a bit more, pack some of your regular clothes, too. I generally add a pair of jeans and a sweater or two to my list.
The next thing is layers. Rather than one bulky item, layers can be used in different combinations depending on the activity.
My cold weather packing list is pretty much the same for every member of the family, though admittedly, I usually pack more variety than the rest of them. I like to have choices!
Winter Vacation Packing List
Best Winter Base Layers
Any packing list for winter worth its merit starts with base layers. Adding or subtracting this layer from your winter outfit makes a big difference in regulating body temperature.
While you can find inexpensive thermals made of cotton, I highly recommend spending a little more and getting wool, silk, or synthetic base layers. Those materials wick moisture away from your body rather than holding it in, resulting in more warmth.
Best Winter Mid Layers
Next on our list are the mid layers. Layer these on top of your base layers for insulation and warmth.
For Women: Patagonia’s Women’s Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover is super versatile, cute, and highly functional.
For Men: Patagonia’s Classic Retro X Fleece Jacket serves as both a mid layer and an outer layer depending on the conditions. Plus, I remember when people were wearing these when I was in college so that bring out the nostalgia.
Best Winter Outer Layers
The next item on your packing list for winter vacation is the outer layers. Generally these layers are water/snow/wind resistant. If it isn’t too cold, you could wear them over just a base layer to keep you dry or cut the wind.
For Women: For the top layer, a soft shell jacket like Mountain Hardwear Women’s Stretch Ozonic Jacket is great for the slopes or other active winter pursuits. If you are looking for something a little more appropriate going out to dinner, but still retains functionality, the North Face’s Arctic Parka will serve your needs.
I also wear a long down coat most of the winter. Even hiking sometimes, but I run really cold. The North Face Women’s Sierra Long Down Parka is essentially a wearable sleeping bag, which is what I love about it.
On the bottom, the Sally Insulated Pants from The North Face have sustainable insulation to keep you warm skiing, sledding, or otherwise playing in the snow.
On the bottom, we like Outdoor Gear Men’s Crest Pants – a super affordable insulated snow pant.
For Kids: For toddlers and babies, snowsuits and bibs are the way to go. These Outdoor Gear Cirque Cargo Bibs are perfect for toddler snow play.
For bigger kiddos, The North Face Youth Freedom Insulated Snow Bib will keep the snow out and their body warm. Pair the bibs with The North Face Girls’ Freedom Extreme Insulated Jacket or The North Face Boys’ Freedom Extreme Insulated Jacket for extra warmth that’s waterproof and breathable.
Best Winter Accessories
Now that your body is mostly covered, we need to think about heads and hands.
For Women: Dick’s offers a big variety of hats and headbands for women. I couldn’t pick just one since there are so many cute options. I like to have multiple hats – one that cute and warm, another for active sports such as cross-country skiing, and one that fits under my downhill ski helmet.
For hands, I prefer mittens with room for hand warmers. If you need more dexterity (or don’t get as cold as I do) gloves are an option. The North Face Women’s Montana FUTURELIGHT Etip Mittens are great for just about everything in winter, including using your phone to take photos. If finger dexterity is your thing, there are a bunch of women’s gloves to choose from.
For Men: Once again, there are too many hats to choose from, so take a look at the men’s hats and make sure you pack at least one.
It seems like men often prefer gloves, though I probably shouldn’t make a blanket statement. I got my man-sized son The North Face Men’s Montana FUTURELIGHT Etip Gloves and they work really well. They are warm, the cuff keeps snow out, and they are compatible with touch screens.
For Kids: Kids’ gear is the cutest, isn’t it? How about these adorable kids hats? Again, consider whether your child will be wearing the hat under a hood or helmet or alone. Those pom poms are so fun, but they don’t fit under anything.
Best Winter Footwear
Last, but not least on our packing list for winter vacation – footwear! When traveling, it’s easiest to have one or two pair of shoes since they take up so much room. I’ve chosen one pair of boots for that can be worn from snowshoeing to dinner.
For Women: The Alpine Design Women’s Sofia 2.0 Winter Boots promise warmth, dry feet, and a cute look.
For Men: The SOREL Men’s Caribou Street Casual Boots are waterproof, comfortable, and pretty good looking.
For Kids: My kids both wore Kids’ Kamik Snow Boots for years. They are warm, waterproof, and come in fun colors. Plus, they are really easy to slip on and off.
Best Winter Games and Toys
Games and toys don’t really need to be on a winter travel packing list, but they can make things more fun!
- Who knew there was such thing a scooter for snow? The Airhead Scoot Snow Scooter looks super fun.
- You know that scene in Elf where Buddy dominates the snowball fight? That can be you with the Emsco Group Snow Slinger. This contraption lets you make a snowball without touching the snow (warm hands!) and increases your throwing distance.
- You’ve got to have a sled and no sled is cuter than the Snow Boogie Youth Polar Bear Arctic Slider Sled.
Once you’ve checked everything off your packing list, winter vacation can begin!