Cold Weather

Packing Essentials
14 min read

If there’s one thing that sucks, it’s being caught on an adventure without the proper cold-weather attire. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, these are 6 crucial items you should absolutely invest in if you haven’t already. 

my cold-weather gear

Thermal Long Underwear

Let’s start from the inside out. Potentially your most important layer is going to be your base layer. It’s going to be your last line of defense against the chill, so getting warm underoos is important. I brought two pairs of Polarmax Base Layer underwear with me to Iceland and they were the main reason why I didn’t freeze my giblets. They should be snug and thin enough to fit underneath a pair of pants and a shirt or sweater. These might be better off trying on in a store, but you can see the underwear I bought here.

They’re also good for keeping warm while hanging out in a camper van

wool Gloves

It sucks to have cold hands. Trust me, I went to Iceland without the right gloves and I was miserable for the first half of the trip. Getting wool gloves is important, since they stay warm and dry quickly. It’s nearly impossible to take photos of the Northern Lights when your fingers won’t move and feel like they’re on fire. For my trip to Iceland, I bought the Columbia Thermarator Gloves. While they were a bit light for that environment, I see them being useful going forward on most other trips. They even have touch-sensitive spots on the thumbs’ and index fingers so you can use your smartphone! Don’t be like me, pack your gloves from the get-go.

You almost couldn’t find a better view than this

Thick Socks

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Buy. Good. Socks. Darn Tough wool hiking socks are warm and insanely comfortable. It doesn’t matter how great your boots are, if you don’t have the proper socks, then all of your little pigs will go straight to the deep freezer. Buy good socks. It’s simple.

Keep it simple.

Waterproof Boots

Now that you know the qualities of the best hiking boots, it’s time to put ’em to use! When you pair these with your thick socks, your feet should be snug, secure, and toasty. The best way to keep them feeling that way is to make sure that your boots are waterproof. As someone who fell in a river photographing Gufufoss, wet feet in the cold is not a fun experience. While there are many great options for boots, I splurged and got the Salewa Ultra Flex Mid GTX boots, which were light, waterproof, and surprisingly warm. Plus, they had literal tire tread as grip, so I only slipped once the entire trip. Take care of your toes and keep ’em comfy!

I must have looked weird taking this photo

Medium Jacket and/or Sweater

One of the first protips you hear about staying warm is to layer. That way, you can be prepared for shifts in temperature and adjust by adding/removing clothes. It’s simple, but it’s easy to forget when you’re rushing through packing. An easy formula? Pack both a medium jacket and light/medium sweater. My go-to items are a puff jacket from Uniqlo and a knit sweater from the Gap. They’re not the nicest or most expensive items, but they certainly do the job. 

Even a thin puff jacket is enough to keep you warm. Even in Iceland!

thick Winter Jacket

Let’s end with the most apparent part of your packing list, shall we? A hefty winter jacket is the first defense against the elements, so it should be thick, warm, and waterproof. I use a trendy looking bomber shell jacket, the Tommy Hilfiger Soft Shell Bomber. I bought it while in Oregon last year and it’s been one of the most useful pieces of clothing I own. It has two built-in layers, the outer shell and an inner down puff layer. It’s pretty much weatherproof (something that wasn’t advertised) and I’ve worn it in both the rain and snow and have not gotten wet. All-in-all, I’d highly suggest it , since it’s done such a good job at keeping my torso nice and toasty. 

This shell jacket has not only kept me protected from the elements, but made me look cool as hell (I think)

those are your cold-weather essentials!

While there’s a long list of things to pack when planning travels in a cold area, the above pieces of clothing will be your best bet at warding off the chill. Have your own winter weather wear suggestions?  Comment below and let me know!

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