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Winter Packing List Items You Actually Need

winter packing list items
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A Winter Packing List You'll Enjoy

Tired of seeing the same boring lists of winter packing list items? Feeling uninspired by the suggestions out there? I totally understand.

Every winter trip is different, and every traveler has their own preferences. That’s why I’ve developed the highly-tailored list of cold-weather winter destination packing items below.

winter packing list ideas

Browse different variations of winter gear so you can find exactly what’s best for you based on your trip type and personal style.

Thermal Underwear

Breathable thermal underwear is one of the most essential winter packing list items, and these aren’t just for ski trips.

Walking outside in temperatures lower than 45 degrees F (8 degrees C) for long periods can be too chilly without a cozy base layer! I wear thermal underwear anytime it gets the slightest bit cold, no matter whether I’m exploring cities, hiking, or enjoying winter sports.

thermal underwear for cold weather

Thin thermal underwear is best for milder winter days. A form-fitting layer under your jeans or pants is so comfortable. They’re also cozy to lounge in after you get home.

A pair of heavily insulated thermal pants will do the trick if you’re traveling somewhere super cold or going skiing/snowboarding.

Proper Luggage for Wintertime

The type of luggage you need for a winter trip depends on what kind of adventure you’re taking as well as what your accommodations will be like.

Roller bag suitcases are perfectly fine if you’ll be shuttled directly to a hotel lobby. But they’re definitely not ideal if you’ll end up dragging them through slush and snow.

winter trip luggage

Large backpacking packs are my go-to for any trip where I’ll be walking through snow. Sometimes hotels or ski chalets require a little walk along a short trail, or winter weather prohibits cars from reaching the hotel. Backpacking bags are a must for camping trips, too.

A good pack like the ones made by Osprey will have waist belt supports and zippers that will never break. I’ve used mine for years and wouldn’t have chosen any other bag!

winter packing list clothing

Comfortable Neckwear

When you’re packing for cold temperatures, neckwear is a must!

Stylish scarves are great to wear out to dinners or for short walks, but not always practical on the rest of your winter trip. They can sometimes feel a bit bulky depending on the fit of your coat. But there are plenty of other alternatives.

Neck warmers are way more practical than traditional scarves since they don’t have dangling ends to tie. Their fabric typically has more a lot more stretch too, providing a snug fit.

neck warmer scarf

An infinity scarf might be just what you need if you prefer a larger over-the-coat scarf style. These are usually the best option to make a fashion statement while still keeping warm and cozy.

The Right Kind of Gloves

Winter gloves with the right thickness/insulation and being touchscreen-friendly are the top priority for most of us. Another important consideration is if your gloves need to be waterproof.

Thinner touchscreen-friendly gloves that are easy to type with are better if temperatures won’t be too low. They keep your fingers nimble with just enough insulation.

touchscreen friendly winter gloves

But don’t try pairing thin gloves with a big puffer jacket, or your hands will look out of proportion! I’ve succumbed to this before, and I just ended up looking silly.

Wear thicker winter gloves with your puffer jacket instead, ideally ones that you can use your smartphone with.

Lastly, for ski trips, you’ll need a heavy-duty, yet stylish pair of waterproof gloves with maximum insulation and style!

Hats & Winter Headwear

Some of us love our winter hats, and some of us avoid them unless absolutely necessary! Either way, there’s a hat to fit your preference.

For traditional winter hat-wearers, the relaxed beanie and the tight-fitting military cap are two of the most popular styles. I personally love when people wear neon colors while on ski trips.

man wearing beanie winter hat

If you think you look silly in a traditional winter hat (like I do), here are a few other ideas.

Consider trying a trapper hat instead. These will definitely keep you warm with the fuzzy ear flaps. They’re pretty fun, too. I have to say they give total cute lumberjack vibes, too.

Don’t want anything covering your hair at all? A decent alternative is an insulating headband paired with a scarf or a solid pair of earmuffs.


Always choose winter socks with your footwear in mind. Sock thickness and length have to jive with the type of shoes or boots you’ll be wearing. No matter what socks you buy though, remember more length never hurts.

wool winter socks

Quarter-length boot socks can be worn with sneakers or low-height boots. These are probably the shortest length of socks I’d ever wear in winter weather.

Calf-height wool boot socks are a must when heavier-duty boots, like hiking boots. Buying proper boot socks or being able to fold them over at the top helps to avoid irritation near the opening of your boots.

Ski socks are your best bet for maximum comfort while hitting the slopes. They’ll keep your toes warm end have enough padding to endure the snug fit of ski boots.

Stylish Winter Boots

Winter boots are a great opportunity to make a fashion statement. They don’t have to be solely utilitarian! Boot styles can be fun, modern, or even kind of sexy!

Hefty tactical military winter boots are my personal favorite. All-black is an easy choice, but thick-soled army green boots are also awesome.

black winter boots

Aldo is one of my favorite brands for boots. Their styles are ultra-modern, the products last many years, and they’re not overly expensive.

Aldo’s boots aren’t always the best for slushy snowy conditions, but in all other cases, they’re fantastic. They’re pretty water-resistant, too.

Layerable Winter Clothing

Wearing clothing in removable layers is always most comfortable during winter trips. While frequently going into warm establishments from the cold outdoors, layers help you maintain the perfect temperature.

Start with a basic breathable performance t-shirt or a long-sleeve thermal shirt. Performance shirt materials like nylon, polyester, and spandex wick sweat away from your skin, keeping you feeling dry.

clothes to pack for winter vacation

Over that, layer a quarter zip tech shirt. I personally like long-sleeve collared tech shirts that have a lot of stretch. They fit well over any kind of t-shirt.

Alternatively, a lightweight fleece sweatshirt that will nicely fit beneath a parka or overcoat will work just fine.

Winter Jacket

Winter jackets come in a lot of different options, from pea coats to ski parkas.

Traditional pea coats are the most formal jacket. If you’re planning a city trip to walk around New York or Paris, I definitely recommend one of these for an elegant look.

For something less formal yet still sophisticated, a parka is perfect. I love the ones made by Canada Goose. They’re versatile enough that you can wear them on almost any type of winter trip.

jacket for winter vacation

Puffer jackets are better if you don’t need as much insulation as a parka. Plus, you can always layer more clothing beneath them. Puffers that have a gator in the wrist openings will keep cold air from going up your sleeves.

Uniqlo down puffer jackets are hugely popular. They’re affordable, incredibly easy to pack, and provide some incredible insulation.

A Cozy Sweatshirt

A sweatshirt is a winter packing list must for spending casual time indoors. Go for something stylish and modern to wear to lunch or an afternoon event. I personally love the style of Bjorn Borg sweaters.

modern casual sweatshirt

If you don’t need anything dressy, you can’t go wrong with a classic pullover Nike sweatshirt. Their full-zip hoodie is a great in-between. It’s casual yet still looks chic.

Sweatsuits are also trendy and come in so many styles. They’re perfect for après ski events or hanging out with friends after a day of being out in the cold.

Hand Warmers

Bring along hand warmers whenever you’ll be out for a long part of the day. Especially if you’re someone who prefers wearing thinner gloves, hand warmers can come in quite “handy.”

packing for winter vacation

Wrinkle Releasing Spray

With all those sweaters folded up in your luggage, things always get wrinkled.

Wrinkle release spray is usually one of those overlooked winter packing list items, but it really is a necessity!

Even if you’re a neat packer like me, you still end up with those annoying horizontal or vertical fold lines in your clothes. Instead of pulling out a steamer, make things easier with a quick spritz of this stuff.

Wintertime Spa Accessories

If your winter vacation might include visits to any spas, saunas, or thermal pools, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed just what you need.

Most importantly, bring a swimsuit. It’s best to at least be prepared with at least a speedo. If you’re taking a winter trip to Europe though, you may not even need it, since bathing and using saunas completely nude is the norm in various countries.

spa day winter packing list ideas

Bring a cheap waterproof drawstring bag to transport any wet swimsuits or clothing. Nobody likes when wet clothes get everything in your backpack all moist, or even smelly if you forget about them.

Moisturizer and Balms

Low humidity goes hand in hand with cold weather, leaving your skin prone to dryness, or even worse, itchiness. With all the attractively scented products available today, using moisturizers and balms can even be a relaxing ritual.

Three of the most popular products to bring along are moisturizers, hand creams, and beard balms. The Ordinary’s facial moisturizer is non-greasy, scentless, and inexpensive.

It’s by far the best I’ve ever used. And for body moisturizer, you can’t go wrong with CeraVe cream.

winter packing list products

Cremo sells some of the best beard styling balms that come in forest blend and the deliciously musky distillers blend. This stuff will keep your beard looking perfect as you trek the outdoors.

For more skincare product recommendations that would be perfect additions to your packing list for winter vacation, see wolfyy’s post on travel size skincare products.

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Planning another winter trip soon? Check out wolfyy’s top winter gay travel destinations.

See wolfyy’s travel resources page for booking discounts and recommended partner sites.

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