5 Must-Have Items for Cold-Climate Travel

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Traveler's Toolbox  

Photo credit: Chung Ho Leung
Photo credit: Chung Ho Leung

When holiday time comes around, relaxing on the beach is at the top of many people’s lists. Sure a tan in November is cute; however, this perspective prevents a lot of people from experiencing some magical places. A lot of possibilities open up with you put away your flip flops and sun hats, and take out the long underwear and toques. There is one cardinal rule to cold-climate travel: dress appropriately. Although I can’t keep you from licking that metal pole next to the skating rink (we’ve all done it), but I can suggest what to wear to maximize your cold weather travel comfort. These are five essential items for comfortable cold-weather travel.

The Canada Goose Kensington Parka
The Kensington Parka | Photo credit: Canada Goose

1) A warm, comfortable jacket

Warmth and comfort are both important. Nobody wants to walk around all day in a beautiful winter landscape wearing a cube of warmth that prohibits arm movement or head turning. There are coats suitable for sub-zero temperatures that allow ease of movement. Yes, they exist. The this parka made by Canada Goose is a great example for women. Made entirely in Canada, the Kensington is not only stuffed with down, ensuring warmth even on the coldest days, but has a beautiful cut that accentuates your silhouette.  You can finally travel in warmth without the bulk. All this in a package that is equally at home on a trendy side street in Helsinki as on a dog sled trip in Norway. They also make a similar model for men .

The Sorel Tivoli High
The Sorel Tivoli High | Photo credit: Sorel

2) A pair of boots to uncurl your toes in

Your core is warm and you look good, so all is well right? Wrong. Cold feet will ruin a wonderful walk through Oslo. Of course warmth is a necessity, but being waterproof is also definitely a must. The Sorel makes a boot for women that does not fear plummeting temperatures. With fleece lining and the 100 grams of insulation this boot will be your best friend on the days you can see your breath. The pièce de résistance is the molded rubber outsole which sits over top of the fully waterproof/breathable construction. They also have a great one for men looking to experience the North. Of course, you always need to build on a solid foundation otherwise everything falls apart. Socks are an integral part of staying warm which people often neglect. Stay away from cotton in these climates because the moment you sweat into them, you will freeze for the remainder of your day. Fibers such as merino wool or synthetics are the best choices, and usually the thicker the sock, the warmer the foot. Icebreaker makes a good one made almost entirely out of merino wool.

The Icbreaker Sprint merino top
The Icbreaker Sprint merino top | Photo credit: Icebreaker

3) A functional base layer

Speaking of a foundation, the same principal that applies to your feet applies to the rest of of your body. You can wear a massive insulated jacket with a heavy sweater underneath, but still freeze if you make the mistake of wearing a cotton t-shirt. Try merino and learn what versatility, comfort and warmth really are. This amazing fabric regulates your temperature, meaning it will keep you cool if you are overheating and warm when you are cold. It also doesn’t itch like regular wool. But, most importantly for travelling, merino wool does not retain odor so you can wear it day after day (if the situation requires it) without washing and you won’t turn heads. Finally due to its warmth to weight ratio, a thin layer will do the trick, allowing you to wear it casually under dress shirts or any urban attire. There is a good discounted selection merino at TheLastHunt.com.

Nobis accessories
Photo credit: Nobis

4) Ear and neck protection

Wind is great when flying a kite in summer, but head out for a walk around the Ice Hotel in Sweden and you will be ruing not having a toque. Your ears and neck should be covered in cold environments. A beanie and scarf should never leave your side as you work your way through snowy landscapes. Nobis is a brand that prides itself on its collection of winter accessories.  From knit wool beanies, to faux fur neck warmers, this Canadian brand is a great option for keeping the sniffles at bay.

5) Smartphone-compatible gloves

North Face Etip Glove
The North Face Etip Glove | Photo credit: The North Face

No, I’m not referring to Facebook. Just because you are on vacation and skating hand-in-hand on a frozen lake does not mean your smartphone should be banished to the deep depths of your pocket. Even when it’s -10 degrees Celsius a The North Face makes a glove called the Etip Pamir Windstopper, which enables you to keep your hands warm while operating your smartphone thanks to the fabric used on the index finger tip. You can finally take that Instagram photo in front of the Reindeer that you always wanted.

About the Author: Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the social media manager at Altitude-sports.com. Although he spends most days behind a desk, he is usually day dreaming about past exploits or (possible) future adventures.

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