How to Pack for a Snowy Winter Getaway
Packing is something I always consider pretty difficult, even more so when it’s for something I’m not used to (snow). As someone raised by a Hawaiian and a longtime resident of feels-freezing-but-never-actually-freezing San Francisco, snow is something I don’t often find myself encountering. So when I headed to Switzerland in the dead of winter for three weeks of outdoor adventures, I did what anyone in my position would do — panic.
Just kidding :) I did a large amount of research, talked to friends who for some reason voluntarily often spend time in the snow, and even asked my mom for advice because, you know, moms always know best. The trip was a success and not once did I find myself too cold, so I can officially be considered a snowy getaway expert.
If you have a snow-filled winter trip in your future, here is everything you need to pack to stay warm (and also fashionable, of course)!
The most important thing, hands down, is packing a lot of layers. Clothing layers, accessory layers, layers on layers on layers.
When I originally packed I planned to bring one coat and a ton of sweaters, which I suddenly realized might not be ideal. I talked it over with my mom and we came to the conclusion that no one would be seeing what was under my coats for the most part, so it made more sense to bring more coats and less sweaters.
While freezing to death in Paris last November because I packed incorrectly, my friend Diana told me about HEATTECH from Uniqlo, a place I had never shopped at prior. HEATTECH is clothing that captures your body heat and uses it to generate warmth. There are three levels: regular, extra warm (1.5X warmer), and ultra warm (2.25X warmer). She promised it would solve all of my problems so I headed to the Marais store to check it out and guess what? It works. As a result a lot of the items I recommend below are from this collection.
Here is what I landed on including, which you can modify based on the activities and duration of your trip:
TANK TOPS — a mentioned, layering is key! Pick up a few of these specifically
LONG SLEEVE SHIRTS — depending on the temp and the activity, I almost always would put a long sleeve shirt over a tank and underneath my coat. Grab a few HEATTECH long sleeve shirts in regular, extra warm, or ultra warm. The warmer you go, the thicker the material becomes.
SWEATERS — as mentioned above, I decided to pack mostly light layers and coats because sweaters tend to be much bulkier. I did bring two sweaters though that I very highly recommend: this wool one from Canada Goose and this cashmere one from Everlane. The Canada Goose one is a bit pricey but I swear it is SO amazing. After I put it on the first time I wore it almost everyday after.
FLANNELS/BUTTON DOWNS — I am ride or die for Rails button downs, buying new ones each year. They are very warm and an easy way to look a little more presentable than a plain old tee. I resort to these a lot on less adventurous days (strolling around town, shopping, etc.) as well as for dinners. I love this one, this one, and this one.
WINDPROOF PANTS — I didn’t actually bring these but I discovered them while writing this post and bought them right away! They’re extra warm-lined and super cute.
SNOW PANTS — I had to have my friend send me a pair of these to borrow and they’re no longer available so I can’t link them here. I also don’t have any specific recommendations, but don’t forget snow pants!
JEANS — whichever you normally wear. Bring a pair or two.
CASHMERE WRAP — I always bring a cashmere scarf or wrap on all trips because I consider it an absolute essential. I actually carry one in my purse at all times. It is especially important during winter because, well, winter is cold! You never know when you’ll need an extra layer on a cold plane, train, or something else. Here’s a great option!
CARDIGAN — this Barefoot Dreams cardigan is honestly life changing. So warm and absolutely necessary. Also great for transit days and hotel lounging!
FLEECE JACKET — Parkas are much more important, but if you have the room a lightweight fleece jacket is nice. I wear this under parkas or downstairs for hotel breakfast, etc.
LONG FUZZY JACKET — again, not a necessity, but I love this one and it’s a little fancier looking than parkas for dinners or other things.
PARKAS — VERY important! I brought not one but TWO Canada Goose parkas with me. I have worked with Canada Goose over the past two years and have been lucky enough to be gifted a handful of coats, but in all honesty they are 100% worth it. The attention to detail is remarkable (even random things like the sleeves are SO warm and soft), they have a lifetime guarantee, and they are remarkably warm. If you can splurge on one, I am confident you will not regret it. Some of my favorites:
PAJAMAS — everything from PJ Salvage is so warm and lovely, I really cannot recommend them enough!
SOCKS — the warmer, the better! And bring a lot.
The shoe department was one that I was particularly worried about. My Switzerland trip was 3 weeks and filled with outdoor adventures all day everyday. I knew I needed something that would keep me warm and not hurt my feet (even when worn over and over) while still being attractive.
My normal go-to snow shoes are the Sorel Joan of Arctic wedge boots, which I absolutely LOVE, but I didn’t think a wedge boot would be appropriate for the activities we had planned. I tried a ton of other Sorel options but all of them were too big and heavy for my liking.
I eventually settled on two pairs of Sperry Saltwater boots. They aren’t my absolute favorite visually, but they performed well and I recommend them!
Accessories for a snowy trip are, unlike other trips, not for vanity purposes but instead are extremely important for survival! Don’t forget to pack these:
SCARVES — an absolute necessity! My favorite are these from & Other Stories, available each year in a handful of the most beautiful colors.
HATS — if your head is warm, the rest of you is warm! They also happen to spice up an otherwise boring outfit and make for a good photo prop, so the more the merrier.
GLOVES — one day I somehow forgot my gloves at the hotel and have never been more miserable in my life, so I would recommend bringing at least two pairs and always double checking that you have them before heading out.
NECK WARMER — good for adventure activities instead of a scarf which can unravel and need adjusting. This one is inexpensive.
SUNGLASSES — snow is very reflective so do not forget the sunglasses!
HAND WARMERS — for your hands, your feet, and your phone in case it gets too cold! Grab this value pack