Traveling to Canada in the winter should not be overlooked just because of the climate. With the right gear, you can stay warm and toasty in almost all weather conditions. I’ve had to learn the art of layering and after hours of research — as well as some trial and error — I’ve come up with the perfect winter packing list.
I was able to test out my new gear in Jasper National Park last month and I’m happy to report that I stayed warm and dry — even in negative temperatures. If you are planning a winter trip to Canada, these winter packing tips and must-have essentials will have you covered — literally!
What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Canada
I cannot stress how important it is to invest in quality base layers. The best material for base layers is either merino wool or synthetic materials such as polyester, polyethylene, and microfiber-based fabrics. Icebreaker’s clothing is expensive because they use merino wool, but I look at these pieces of clothing as an investment. I won’t have to buy them again for many years.
You can find less expensive base layers if you are on a tight budget. This one is less than $20 (which I also own and love) and it contains a blend of synthetic materials.
Tip: You want to make sure this layer is snug on your body.
- 2 Moisture Wicking Long Sleeve Tops – I wore the same base layer every day for 6 days and I never noticed a smell to it. However, recommend packing 2 for longer trips, just in case.
- 1-2 Pairs of Merino Wool Leggings – A cheaper option would be these fleece-lined leggings, which is what I bring on all of my trips.
The trick to keeping your feet warm is having enough room in between your shoes and your socks and only wearing one layer of quality warm socks.
- Heavyweight Wool Socks – These socks are great! I’ve tried other wool socks and they always made my shoes feel too snug — which, by the way, will make your feet cold. I have the most sensitive skin in the world and these socks are extremely soft — not scratchy like some wool socks.
- Sorel Boots: These combined with my wool socks kept my feet warm all day.
- A Cute Pair of Ugg Boots: You won’t want to wear snow boots all day and these are great for the plane too.
- North Face Snow Pants – The warmest snow pants I’ve ever owned.
- Insulated Jacket – This was the first trip where I was able to really put this jacket to the test and it kept me extremely warm!
- Snow Gloves
- Pants: I wore my snow pants during all of my daytime activities and brought 1 pair of corduroy pants for the evening, which I could layer with my wool or fleece-lined leggings.
- Tops: I brought a couple of t-shirts to put in between my base layer and mid layer. I brought cotton t-shirts, but you can also get merino wool/nylon t-shirts to go over your base layer.
- Thermal Long Sleeve Tops – These are cheap and a perfect extra layer on top of your base layer/t-shirt combo.
- Fleece-Lined Leggings: I never leave home without at least 1 pair of these leggings. They are perfect for layering.
- Fleece or Lightweight Down Mid Layer: I brought a lightweight down jacket and never used it because I was warm enough with my base layer, thermal shirt, fleece mid layer and my jacket.
- Hot Hands Hand Warmers – A little extra added warmth for your feet and hands.
- 2 Scarves
- Fleece-Lined Wool Gloves: You probably won’t want to wear your snow gloves all the time, especially if you want to go out in the evening. Basic knit gloves are not warm enough to wear by themselves (I still bring my favorite pair of colorful knit gloves to wear when it’s not too cold), so make sure to get a warm pair of non-bulky gloves.
- Balaclava: You’ll want this on those extremely cold days!
- Heat Holders Fleece Beanie – This beanie is the only hat I have with a thermal lining. It is SO warm and soft.
How to Take Care of Your Camera in Freezing Temperatures
This was the first time I used my Sony a7II in sub-zero temperatures, so I took a few extra precautions — just to be safe. My coldest day of shooting was about -10 ºC (14 ºF).
- Bring lots of extra batteries!! Cold weather causes batteries to discharge faster, so you will want to come prepared.
- Bring silica packets. Silica packets absorb moisture which can cause damage to your camera gear. I put my camera and lenses in large plastic ziplock bags with a few silica packets.
- Keep your batteries close to you. Even if you bring 10 extra batteries, if you leave them in your cold bag, it’s pointless. Put your batteries in an inside pocket, close to your body. You can even put a hand warmer in there.
- Wrap a hand warmer around the section of the camera that contains the battery.
- Keep your phone in an inside pocket and bring a portable charger.
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