Travel Destinations

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snowy Winter Travel Packing Tips

Snowy Winter Travel Packing Tips
I've sunk into six inches of snow, but I'm warm and dry.
Living in San Diego, I get cold when the thermometer hits 64 degrees.  So packing for our recent winter travels to Madison, Wisconsin posed a bit of a packing conundrum.  Luckily I had some items appropriate for winter, like boots and down jackets, purchased on or for other vacations in cold locations.  But as I said, I get cold in 64 degrees, so those previous “cold” locations were in the 40s and 50s, not in the single digits and negatives.  I also wanted to make sure we were able to thoroughly enjoy our outdoor winter activities, so I needed to get it right so we wouldn’t be miserable.  Happily, with advice from people in the know, I purchased and packed items that ended up being key to our comfort. 

It sounds like such a little thing, but the most important purchase I made for our winter travels were wool socks.  I had previously visited the snow in the mountains in Los Angeles and even though I was wearing my very warm boots, my feet still felt like they were going to freeze off.  Since we were planning outdoor activities of snowshoeing and ice skating, it was imperative that I keep my feet warm.  My friend's mother suggested Wigwam socks and one thing I know is moms are always right, so out I went and purchased four pairs of Wigwam Merino Wool Comfort Hiker Socks for both Romeo and me.  I also bought foot warmers, but between my boots and the socks, the foot warmers were never needed.

For outdoor snow activities, a good pair of thick waterproof gloves is important.  When we were walking around town I was many times able to keep my hands warm just by putting them in the pockets of my jacket.  But for snowshoeing and ice skating gloves are imperative.  Knit gloves or thin gloves are not going to cut it, as knit gloves become icicles as soon as they get wet and thin gloves don’t keep out the frozen air.  I found these great Manzella Gloves which were perfect for outdoor winter activities.  They were soft inside, kept out the cold, but were also very flexible rather than being puffy and unmanageable. 

If you plan on being outside in the cold for any period of time, a good base layer is very important.  It was suggested to me that I not just rely on my inexpensive thermals from Target, so I purchased Under Armour Women's UA Authentic ColdGear®.  Under Armour is more expensive, but definitely worth the price.  I did find that the top wasn’t completely necessary, as my down jacket retains body warmth very well, so if you have the right jacket, you would probably be fine with just base layer bottoms. 

I already owned the perfect boots for winter travel, and they did not let me down.  I’ve had these boots for years, but they are still available because they are awesome.  My UGG Australia Adirondack Boots are perfect for snow because they are waterproof, tall, grippy, and lined with sheepskin for additional warmth. Plus they’re kind of cute in a rugged way.  I wore these boots around town and snowshoeing.  It’s important to have tall enough boots to keep out the snow if you step into any deep drifts.  I also like that I could wear them with my skinny jeans tucked inside so I didn’t have to worry about my jeans getting wet. 

If you’re planning on going snowshoeing, bring some snow pants.  I almost didn’t as it meant one more thing to buy, but I am thankful I made the purchase.  I would even suggest wearing them ice skating.  Snow pants just add an extra layer of windbreak and warmth for outdoor activities, and if you fall in the snow, you won’t have to worry about your jeans getting wet and making the rest of the activity miserable. 

Winter Travel Packing Tips - Uggs, Gloves, Snowpants
Snowshoeing can be fun and warm with the
proper apparel, including snow pants.
I can’t emphasize enough how important a good down jacket is for winter travel.  No polyester filling is going to treat you in the same way down will.  I didn’t even wear my base layer top under my sweater when we were ice skating because my jacket kept me so warm.  I probably didn’t need to bring three down jackets, but I so rarely get to wear them in San Diego I wanted to be able to use them all! 

Packing the proper cold weather clothing for our winter travel adventure in Madison, Wisconsin was so important for having an enjoyable time.  Even when it was six below walking home from the local brew pub we were mostly comfortable, and we were able to enjoy our outdoor activities in complete comfort and warmth.   

What are your best winter travel packing tips?

Travel the World: Packing tips for winter travel.

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Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.