Packing Light: or how to keep warm for a winter trip


As promised, perhaps more of a threat, this will be a list of gear – not winter sports gear, just the basics needed when travelling on a budget to a winter location. No easy feat to pack light when everything is bulky. It is a good thing I am not planning to fly anywhere on this trip. Just looking at my handwritten list – old school all the way when I first start researching a new adventure – has me reconsidering if I really need all that stuff.

A note about outdoor winter activities: it appears some of the higher end accommodations provide the necessary gear through rentals. Guests pay for rooms using credit cards, ergo, no worry about anyone walking off with a winter coat, boots or whatever else they might not have brought I will not be using a credit card. Lesson although a nuisance, bring back my winter clothes every year from Ontario!

Daunting task – My reasoning seems sound, the weight and bulk may change my mind. Some of the items are always included when I travel.

  • Osprey Sirrus 36 – lightweight, no need to worry about stowing it in the baggage car.
  • Ultra Light Down Throw – from Quilts Etc
  • WAci ultra quick dry towel – from Home Outfitters
  • Emergency kit – I still have to go through this to pull out the important items and decrease bulk
  • Travel coffee press and coffee – perhaps the most necessary item! Small flashlight
  • Medicine for one week – after I dropped several pills while waiting at a taxi stand in Chengdu, China I always take extra with me. Perhaps I should look into the likelihood of avalanches that could close the railway in March.
  • Day pack – to stuff my thermos, food, etc. into while on the train; emergency kit, food and water if I become foolish enough to attempt a hike along one of the trails. Such an endeavour will need some extremely serious thought; I am prone to meeting up with bears.
  • one book – possibly one I can just leave behind, as difficult as that is for me to do
  • electronics – iPad, iPhone and chargers; camera. I always use my iPhone but dropped it when in ON which means the necessity of a back-up, after all, I am going to be in the Rockies!
  • toque, (2?) mittens, gloves, scarf (I did mention I left all my major winter wear in Ontario)
  • Boots – my conundrum is that they do not have great grips, only figured that out recently, and my icers are, of course, with my winter gear.
  • Winter socks – 4 – 5 pairs, I will break down and buy some
  • Light socks – 4 – 5 pairs, anything to ensure I do not get cold feet
  • slippers – I hate wearing outdoor footwear when sleeping
  • 2 pairs warm joggers (outer layer)
  • 4 pairs leggings (they will double as pyjamas)
  • 3 long sleeve light shirts (also doubling as PJs)
  • 2 sweaters – or should it be 3? My handwritten note asks if I even have that many.
  • fleece jacket and Mac in a Sac waterproof jacket (the latter is to keep my dry) I also have a heavy duty, knit sweater I am considering as an extra layer. I already know it can withstand -15c wind and cold.
  • basic toiletries

In addition, I am considering purchasing gaiters and another set of icers to keep me from getting snow in my boots and slipping. As for keeping warm, I cannot decide if I should just eat the cost and buy some Merino tops – sales are on now – or hope what I do have will be warm enough. My preference is to just buy sleeves, similar to what cyclists wear.


After writing my list I had to take Mozzy to the vet – we do this every two weeks – which usually means some talking about his routine, when I will be away, that sort of thing. One of the staff said that a great place to look for winter coats is at second hand stores! So I did. I found a coat at W.I.N. a not for profit store that helps women in need. It might not be perfect for -30 C weather but I think it might suffice for the five days I need something to keep me toasty.

Best of all, it has a hood and is long enough to cover my upper legs. All for the insane amount of $18! For the time being my daughter can borrow it, she who came home from Taiwan to a snowstorm. If I think of it as the equivalent of five coffees, (not fancy ones) I can justify leaving the coat in Jasper for the next unprepared person.

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