Winter Packing Guide

It's that time of year again - winter is coming!  For most of us, it's already here!

Brace-yourself-Winter That leaves you with a few options - curl up in a ball and binge-watch Vagabrothers, travel somewhere warm, or travel into the most gorgeous alpine peaks to embrace the essence of winter.  We suggest a combination of the three. screen_shot_2013-10-17_at_12.40.40_pm_p2237324 If you decide to do the latter, you'll need to be conscious of what you pack.  Winter clothes are bulky and your natural tendency is to pack more than you need.  But don't worry, just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you need to freak out, overpack or freeze.   Just follow these easy tips to minimize your luggage and headaches and maximize your warmth and freedom.   [caption id="attachment_5744" align="alignnone" width="4240"]Forests of Finland.  The following gear got us through this day at -35.  Forests of Finland. The following gear got us through this day at -35.[/caption] Layers, Layers, Layers If you take anything away from this article, make it this: dress in layers.  The key is not to bring a bunch of different sweaters and jackets - one of each is good.  But you do want to pack multiple layers of warm, breathable clothes.  Start with your undergarments. The Base Layer - The Most Important of All.   The base layer is the most important for a number of reasons.  First, it's what touches your skin, so it has to be comfortable.  Second, it's what you will be sweating into, so it needs to be breathable, washable, and numerous enough to swap out every day or so.  And third, it's thin and lightweight, which means that rather than pile on three bulky sweaters and two pairs of pants, you can just slim into some thermal long johns and be set. Ex Officio Boxers / Bikini Bottoms are an excellent, washable undergarment.  We recommend buying three pairs of different colors (so you know which is clean/dirty) and then washing one pair while you wear the other, having the third as backup. [caption id="attachment_5733" align="alignnone" width="958"]Ex Officio Boxer Briefs Ex Officio Boxer Briefs[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5734" align="alignnone" width="910"] Ex Officio Bikini Bottoms[/caption] Smartwool Long Underwear  - Perhaps the most important of  all.  Walking around in the snow in normal pants without long johns is miserable.  Slip into these bad boys and you're toasty as can be.  Two of these should be enough, as you won't sweat them out too much. [caption id="attachment_5735" align="alignnone" width="592"]Screenshot 2015-12-29 07.14.59 Smartwool Long Underwear[/caption] Smartwool Longsleeve Thermal - Same can be said for the upper half of your body.  Bring these instead of cotton shirts, or use them as an under shirt for long sleeve button downs.  Bring three of these. [caption id="attachment_5736" align="alignnone" width="736"] Smartwool Longsleeve Shirt[/caption] Smartwool Socks - Socks are also really important.  They don't need to be from the Smartwool brand (and neither do the long johns or thermal shirt), but make sure they are a solid pair of wool socks.  Bring three of these, and make sure they fit well.   Don't skimp here and bring cotton socks, or your toes will hate you. [caption id="attachment_5737" align="alignnone" width="746"]Screenshot 2015-12-29 07.20.40 Smartwool Socks[/caption] Midlayer - The Thermostat  Once you've got your base layer sorted out, time to move to the mid-layer.  This is what you will be taking on and off to adjust to different temperatures.  Don't go crazy here.  One good sweater will do, or else a lightweight vest or a packable down / synthetic jacket as made by Patagonia (i.e. the popular Nano Puff, pictured), North Face, or many other outdoors brands. [caption id="attachment_5739" align="alignnone" width="782"]Screenshot 2015-12-29 07.27.26 Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5740" align="alignnone" width="762"]Screenshot 2015-12-29 07.28.39 North Face Bionic Vest[/caption] Outerware - Your Shield Against the Cold Just as important as the base layer is your outer later.  While the base layer touches your skin, the outer layer faces the elements.  So make sure that you get something warm and waterproof.  Remember, you can always improve impermeability by spraying something with a water proofing spray like Aqua Armor. The Jacket - If you live anywhere but the tropics, you'll probably have a good cold jacket.  Bring that.  Ski/snowboard jackets work, as do more formal options like wool trench coats, duffle coats or parkas, depending on where you're going.  These ones from Patagonia got us through winter in Finland at -40. DSC00176 Banana Republic Traveler Jeans - We have really fallen in love with these jeans - for all seasons.  Although we have not properly tested them in blizzards yet, we've rocked jeans in the past in snow.  These ones are a great lightweight material, and really stretchy.  They pack small and don't wrinkle.  Don't balk at the price tag ($128), they are almost always 50% off, which makes them reasonable. Screenshot 2015-12-29 07.22.23 Hiking Boots: Don't hit the snow in tennis shoes.  Make sure your boots are waterproof, high enough to keep snow off your ankles, and with a good enough grip to keep you from slipping on your butt.  You might have to cut out other options, but no one will judge your style for rocking boots in winter.  If they do, fuck them.  You don't want those type of friends anyways. [caption id="attachment_5741" align="alignnone" width="910"]Asolo Men's TPS 535 V Hiking Boot Asolo Men's TPS 535 V Hiking Boot[/caption] Accessories - Lastly, don't forget the accessories... gloves, a beanie, and a good scarf.  Your ski gear will probably work for this, or you can always find relatively inexpensive substitutes when you get to your destination.  These things are more common and therefore cheaper in cold climates. In conclusion...  Dress in layers.  Base layer is really important, and should be the majority of items you pack.  Midlayer is a couple of shirts to put over the thermals (optional) and a vest or packable jacket to adjust warmth.  Outer layer should be waterproof - your ski jacket will do, but don't come in tennis shoes. Need a recap?  Video below!

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