Here’s a full packing list for cold weather, covering everything from winter outerwear to shoes, thermal base layers and more.
Snowman © jonathanmcintosh
Packing for a cold destination is tough, especially if you want to avoid taking several suitcases. From t-shirts and underwear to coats, rain jackets and shoes, winter clothes take up a lot of space, making it important that you pack strategically.
Things You Need On Every Trip:
Below we’ve listed items specific for a cold weather trip. For items that you need on every trip regardless of the weather, see our main holiday packing list.
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Cold Weather Clothing and Footwear:
- Base Layers – Pack three or more base layer tops and thermal tights to keep you warm in even the coldest weather, all without taking up much space in your suitcase.
For men, Duofold sells excellent crew neck base layer tops that slip on unnoticed under a t-shirt or long sleeved pullover. Duofold also has thermal shirts for women that provide excellent warmth without adding too much bulk to an outfit.
- T-Shirts – When it comes to t-shirts and travel, four is the magic number. A selection of four t-shirts gives you something to wear underneath your coat every day, all while limiting your laundry duties to twice a week at most.
- Jeans – Cold weather calls for simple, durable and comfortable clothing. Pack a pair or two of jeans for your winter holiday so that you’ve always got something warm that looks good in just about any outfit.
- Coat – Whether you prefer a pea coat or a fleece jacket, it’s important that you pack at least one outer layer if you’re visiting a cold destination during winter. If you’re travelling somewhere rainy, bring two coats so you can dry one while you wear the other.
- Rain Jacket – Another obvious essential. If you’re visiting a rainy destination in winter, it’s best to pack a good quality rain jacket. Brands like Columbia and The North Face offer a great selection of thick rain jackets that also insulate you from the cold.
- Winter Shoes/Boots – Pack at least one pair of durable boots or thick leather shoes for your winter trip. For light winters, a pair of leather boots is more than enough; for snowy weather, opt for a pair of hiking boots with a grippier outsole.
- Sports/Walking Shoes – If the weather is fairly mild, replace the winter boots with a pair of walking or sports shoes. You won’t quite get the warmth, but you’ll save a lot of space in your suitcase.
- Scarf – If you’re travelling at the peak of winter, make sure you pack a scarf or two into your suitcase. Your head, neck, hands and feet will feel cold the quickest, and a scarf can make a big difference in your overall comfort level.
- Gloves – If you’re travelling somewhere seriously cold, pack a pair or two of gloves that you can wear during the daytime. Thin woolen gloves work well in mild climates, while a pair of leather gloves is your best best for looking fashionable in very cold weather.
- Hat – A good winter hat will keep you warm and comfortable in even the coldest weather. Stick with a classic woolen hat if you’re visiting a city, or choose a lighter fleece hat if you plan on skiing or snowboarding.
- Sunglasses – Yes, sunglasses. If you’re travelling to a snowy destination, bring a pair of polarised sunglasses to protect your eyes from sun damage. The winter sun sits lower in the sky, which can damage your vision when combined with reflective white snow.
- Dress/Smart Casual Clothing – If you plan on dining out, it’s worth packing a dress or smart casual outfit into your suitcase.
Cold Weather Health and Personal Hygiene:
- SPF 15+ Sunscreen – Since snow reflected light, it’s possible to get sunburned even in the middle of winter. If you’re visiting a ski resort or any other destination with both snow and sun, bring some SPF 15+ sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.
Need a good sunscreen? Neutrogena SPF 45 Drytouch Sunscreen is a great choice for cold weather, since it protects your skin without ever feeling oily or wet.
- Lip Balm – Cold, dry weather can quickly lead to cracked lips and dry, itchy skin. Keep your lips moisturised and safe from the weather by packing lip balm and applying it as frequently as possible on cold, dry winter days. We like Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Balm.
Remember The Essentials:
- Make sure you’ve got your passport, flight tickets, travel vaccinations and all the other items essential to every trip abroad – see our essential holiday packing list to doublecheck you’ve got everything!
- Face mask – COVID is still very active in many countries and you may be required to wear an SFP2 facemask on the plane and in some indoor spaces. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser when you travel.