After multiple questions and requests to share what I wear/pack for my winter travels, I decided it was time to dedicate a post to the subject.
Jake and I often spend our Christmas holidays in Europe. There are few places that go all out on the decorations, lights, Christmas markets, holiday treats, and overall festive atmosphere like Europe.
While this post will focus on my winter packing list for Europe, you can really use this guide for any winter destination.
The destinations we visit have temperatures ranging from the mid-20s to mid-40s (if we're lucky). There might be snow flurries, but more often than not it's damp and wet (which is far colder than a dry day filled with snow).
If your destination will be similar to these conditions, this cold weather packing list is sure to help!
I focus on winter must-haves that make long hours outdoors bearable. While comfort is key, finding items that look good is a priority as well. We always take so many photos during our winter vacations with all the beautiful markets, lights, and decor. Finding the balance between comfort and fashion can sometimes be difficult, but I've found some wonderful staples!
You'll also learn some packing tips on how to fit all these bulky items into your suitcase.
Now let's get into my winter packing list for women!
Winter packing list - outfit basics
I'll get into specific items and products below, but let's get the basic summary out of the way.
For my winter trips to Europe, I usually stick with dark jeans, black jeans, thick leggings (like Spanx faux suede leggings and velvet leggings), sweaters, and mid-length sweater dresses paired with thick wool tights.
A pair of running shoes and two or three boots/booties are all I pack for footwear.
If you're going to spend your money on one item for your cold weather packing list, a warm (but lightweight) winter coat is it. For so many years I tried to get by with cheap coats. Last year I decided that my Christmas gift would be a Canada Goose down coat.
Hands down one of the best purchases and a game changer for my winter packing list.
After much research, I chose the Canada Goose Alliston Coat. Not only does this coat keep me toasty in freezing conditions, but it's also very lightweight. When you're spending hours outside, those heavy coats can really start to weigh down on your shoulders and back.
I wore this in Park City, Utah when the temperatures were in the low 20s and I was perfectly warm.
I've tried down alternative coats and they just didn't give the same amount of warmth as this one. Also, pea coats and wool coats won't cut it. Jake had to wear a down jacket under his pea coat to stay warm.
If you run on the cold side, I highly recommend finding a coat that is thigh-length to help keep your legs warm. This length is also nice because the coat covers your bum when you sit.
Also, make sure your coat is wind-resistant and water-resistant.
I typically only wear boots during my winter travels. They're comfortable and durable plus you can pair them with thick socks to keep your feet warm and toasty. There are several types of boots I like to wear.
While "hiker boot" may sound a bit intense or unfashionable, you'll be surprised that brands like Cole Haan and Sorel make cute and comfortable versions.
I like the hiker boots because they are usually waterproof or water resistant. This is very important for a winter vacation. If it's not snowing, it will probably be raining or wet at some point.
Hiker boots also have very grippy soles. Cobblestones can get very slick when wet. A sole with good traction and grip is key.
Lastly, many of these hikers have great insulation (faux fur, shearling, etc.).
Favorite hiker boots to include in your winter packing list:
Sorel Lennox - I like the simplicity of these.
These Sorel boots with sneaker soles would be good to pair with skinny jeans and leggings.
Timberland Waterproof Boot (brown option with faux-fur trim) - these are comfortable and durable. They're great for both fall and winter trips. I've had mine for several years and they've held up really well.
Ugg Harrison boot - a great casual option offering optimal comfort and warmth with a plush lining.
Boots with a wedge heel is a great way to dress things up a tad. I've worn wedges similar to these Sorel baby wedges all day and didn't mind the heel height at all.
If you're comfortable with a higher wedge, I love these Sorel platform wedge boots with jeans, skirts, and casual dresses.
I'll bring a tall pair of boots only if I'm going to wear them on the plane (because they take up a lot of suitcase space). I highly recommend a pair of tall boots if you're going somewhere especially cold. Pairing tall, heavy socks (think ski socks) with these will keep you nice and warm.
Cole Haan boots - waterproof, sleek, great for dressing up or down, rubber soles for traction...what more can you ask for? These are perfect!
Winter packing list accessories
Earmuffs - I usually opt for ear muffs over a hat in order to not flatten my hair...unless it's insanely cold. Nordstrom Rack usually has Ugg earmuffs at a great price.
Faux fur headband - perfect for a wintry look.
Unless you're going to the arctic or hiking up a mountain, I don't see the need of packing bulky gloves. Lightweight gloves with a nice lining are fine for a cold weather packing list.
If your hands get cold put them in your coat pockets or use hand warmers.
Touch screen compatibility is a must so you aren't taking your gloves on and off in the cold!
Athleta Lined Gloves - these are great for cold morning jogs as well as for daily wear. This pair is better than most "jogging gloves" because they have a brushed lining. Many lightweight/jogging gloves have zero lining and provide very little warmth. I also appreciate that they actually fit snug to your fingers and aren't too loose/feel like they were made for men.
These North Face gloves are similar, but a little thicker.
One of my winter packing list secrets is to bring a pair of thick, wool tights (tights you wear with dresses, not leggings. I'll bring jeans one size too big (or just really stretchy) and wear tights underneath. This has saved me on days when it was extra cold and we were outside almost all day.
Winter socks are another small thing that can make a big difference. If you know you're going to be out all day, walking from sight to sight, Christmas market to Christmas market, it's best to go with thick, padded socks.
Smartwool is by far my favorite brand and I usually buy them from Amazon or Zappos.
Full cushion crew socks not only give extra comfort when you're on your feet all day, but they really do keep your feet warm.
This thinner version is better with skinny jeans since they aren't as thick.
Bring a few ankle height socks if you plan on wearing booties/shorter boots.
Lastly, full on ski socks are not a bad idea for freezing temperatures.
A big bulky scarf will easily go all the way to your chin, keeping all the cold air out. Plus, it can double as a wrap once you take your coat off.
Faux fur scarves are great to dress things up a bit.
Winter packing list miscellaneous items
Hand warmers - squeeze as many of these into your bag as possible. I almost always have one in each hand pocket. Some days I use four when I want them stuffed on top of my feet in my boots.
Umbrella - chances that it will rain or mist are very high this time of year (in Europe). Make sure to bring a sturdy umbrella. I'm all about packing light and those tiny travel umbrellas, but this is not a trip to have a flimsy umbrella.
On every trip I've taken to Europe in December over the years, I've used my umbrella far more than I expected.
Winter packing list for joggers
I have a few great finds to stay warm on your morning jogs.
Lululemon vest - pack one vest and several long sleeve shirts for your morning jogs. This will save suitcase space vs bringing tops that are thicker and bulkier.
Athleta rainier legging - by far my favorite cold weather legging. These are lined to provide extra warmth without feeling bulky or getting too hot.
Lululemon ear warmer - this version stays in place and provides just the right amount of warmth and coverage.
How to fit all this in your bag
REI compression packing cubes - by far my favorite compression cubes. I hate how most the compression cubes go too small. REI got the sizing just right. Big enough that you can fit a good amount of clothing in it and still be able to zip the compression part shut. I hope they never stop making these because I haven't found anything similar.
Compression packing bags - your answer to bulky sweaters and coats. These are like a vacuum-sealed bag, but without the vacuum. Put everything in these bags, seal them, and then roll. As you roll, the air is released and that pile of 10 sweaters is now 1/10 the size.
I hope this helps get you started on your winter packing list. These are my tried and true staples that I've brought on countless winter trips. They've really made a difference in keeping me warm and comfortable when I'm constantly outside in cold temperatures.
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Winter Packing List | Cold Weather Travel Must-Haves for Women
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Last Updated on December 1, 2022 by Ashley Friemel