What to Wear in Winter in Canada: The Ultimate Packing Guide
It’s no secret that Canada gets very cold in winter. With snow blanketing the ground and frost covering the trees, the winter wonderland of Canada is a gorgeous sight to see. But in order to truly enjoy it, you need to know what to pack for Canada in winter.
Pack these clothes and you'll stay warm so you can make the most of your Canada adventures. Whether you’re exploring the charming Quebec City or visiting the popular Toronto, knowing what to wear will make all the difference.
The temperature in winter in Canada ranges from 23°F (-5°C) to -22°F (-30°C) and you can expect snow throughout the whole country. But winter travel doesn’t need to be bitter. In this article, I’ll cover what to pack for Canada in winter, from clothes to extra essentials. You can download the packing list for Canada in winter below as well.
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The Ultimate Packing List for Canada in Winter
What to Pack for Canada in Winter Tips
Before you jet off to explore the winter wonderland of Canada, here are some helpful things to know that will help you make the most of your trip. Prepare for the cold, and you'll be able to enjoy it!
How cold does it get in Canada in winter?
The temperature varies across the country, but because it's far north, it gets pretty cold everywhere. On average, the low temperatures in Canada in winter are between 23°F (-5°C) to -22°F (-30°C). You should also expect snow this time of year.
Where's the best place to visit in Canada in winter?
You can't go wrong, the entire country is beautiful this time of year. But if I had to narrow it down, these places are my top picks:
Quaint and charming: Quebec City
Great for outdoor adventures: Banff
Best big city vibes: Vancouver
Packing for Winter in Canada With a Carry-On?
Winter clothes are so bulky making it harder to fit them in a carry-on. But it is possible! If you're packing for winter in Canada with a carry-on only, follow these tips to successfully fit everything you need.
Wear your bulkiest items like your winter coat and snow boots to save space in your carry-on.
Use compression packing cubes to organize and fit more in your bag.
Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
If your airline allows it, carry a personal item as well, like a purse, to hold other essentials like your laptop, book, headphones, etc. Remember to check your airline's bag regulations.
Pack less than you need. This isn't always easy, but I promise you'll be fine with fewer clothes. Rewear and wash any clothes when possible.
Pack layers. If you have a couple of warm outer layers, like a sweater and a fleece jacket, you can pack more of your thinner layers to wear underneath. A couple sets of thermals and a long sleeve shirt take up less room than a chunky sweater.
Canada Winter Clothing: It's all about the layers!
After living in Chicago for three years, I learned how to dress well for cold, snowy weather. In northern destinations, you have to make the most of the cold, layer up, and go out and explore anyway! I recently visited Canada in winter and my cold-weather skills helped me stay warm and have fun.
Wearing layers is the best way to stay warm when visiting Canada in winter. Start with a base layer like thermals. On top of your base layer, wear a fleece jacket, a sweater, or both on really cold days. To finish the winter clothes layering method, put on your winter coat. With three to four layers you will stay warm so you can enjoy Canada even in the cold!
I suggest wearing at least two layers on the bottom as well. Start with thermal pants and end with jeans or other long pants. And don't forget thick, winter socks!
What to Wear in Winter in Canada
A winter coat is the number one item you will need to wear to stay warm while exploring Canada in winter. The longer the coat is, the warmer you will be. It’s best to find a water-resistant winter coat so if it snows, your coat won’t get wet. Another good feature is a hood to help keep the wind off your ears and neck.
Shop my recommended winter coat to wear in Canada in winter.
For "warmer" days or times when you know you won't be outside too long, you can opt for a lighter coat. My favorite mid-weight down jacket is the Cotopaxi Teca Calido jacket.
Under your winter coat, wear another warm layer, like a fleece jacket to keep you extra warm. It’s best to have multiple layers for those super cold days. A fleece jacket is nice because you can take your coat off indoors, but still have a warm layer on when shopping, getting cozy in a coffee shop in Quebec City, etc.
Cozy, comfy, and cute; sweaters are the best tops to pack for winter in Canada. With a plethora to choose from, you’re bound to find a sweater style you love. Oversized, turtleneck, cropped, the list goes on. Throw a few sweaters in your bag to stay warm and look cute while enjoying the Canadian winter.
As well as sweaters, pack a few long sleeve shirts. You can wear them on their own if it’s slightly warmer, or wear one underneath a sweater on super cold days. A turtleneck is my top recommendation; they’re great to wear under baggy sweaters or with a cardigan.
Shop the best turtleneck long sleeve shirt.
Pack a set of thermals to wear in Canada in winter. These are perfect to wear as a base layer and keep you extra warm all day. You can wear them under jeans, joggers, sweaters, etc. Thermals also double as the perfect winter pajamas.
Shop thermal sets to stay cozy!
It’s best to stick to long pants in the cold, snowy weather that winter brings to Canada. If you wear a skirt or dress, make sure you wear thermals underneath. Jeans, dress pants, and joggers are your best options for bottoms.
Shop recommended long pants.
If you plan to do any snow activities, like sledding, hiking, snowball fighting, etc., you should also pack a pair of waterproof snow pants. These will help keep you dry and therefore warm while having fun in the snow. If you already own ski pants, those are perfect for Canada in winter.
Shop the best snow pants and win that snowball fight.
Keep your toes warm and pack some thick socks. Feet get cold so easily; having the best winter socks is a must in Canada. Merino wool is my go-to; it's thinner than regular wool yet just as warm, and it's naturally oder-wicking making it the best material for winter socks.
Shop the best merino wool winter socks for a Canada trip.
The best shoes to wear in Canada in winter are boots. Whether they’re knee-high, snow boots, or ankle boots, spray them with water-resistant spray to keep the snow from making them wet. Or buy already waterproof boots. Tennis shoes and other low-cut shoes don’t keep the snow off your feet well, which is abundant this time of year in Canada.
The little things matter too! Don’t forget to pack gloves, your hands will thank you. Now you might think, eh I have pockets, I don’t need gloves. Trust me, you do. If you have to look for directions on your phone or see where the closest coffee shop is, your hands will get bitterly cold very quickly.
Beanie or Ear Warmer
Keep your ears warm with a beanie hat or an ear warmer. The wind and cold air in winter in Canada quickly make ears numbly cold. Avoid this unpleasant situation with a beanie! If you have room in your bag, I recommend bringing a couple of these.
I highly recommend bringing a scarf on a winter trip to Canada. Even if you have a hood on your winter coat, the cold can creep in and make your neck freezing. Wrap a winter scarf around your neck, or use it as a shawl while spending time indoors.
Shop my favorite winter scarves.
Lip Balm & Lotion
Cold, snowy weather often makes your skin very dry. To keep your hands and lips from cracking, pack a lip balm and bottle of moisturizer. Your skin will be very thankful for it.
Hand and Foot Warmers
Pack some hand and foot warmers to really enjoy the outdoor activities Canada has to offer in winter. From snow-shoeing to Christmas market shopping, and picturesque winter hikes to ice skating. These compact warmers take up little space in your suitcase but provide extra warmth to help you enjoy your Canada trip to the max.
The Ultimate Packing List for Canada in Winter Recap
Beanie or Ear Warmer
Outfit Inspiration: Canada Winter Clothing
Looking for outfit inspiration? Here are some Canada winter clothing outfit ideas. Shop the entire outfits or your favorite pieces. Stay warm and stylish while exploring Canada in winter. The snowy, winter wonderland is beautiful and easy to enjoy when you’re cozy in the best clothes!
The snowy, magical wonderland Canada’s winters bring is so beautiful, but they’re only enjoyable if you know what to wear in winter in Canada. Having the right clothes for the weather is a must this time of year.
Stay warm with a winter coat, gloves, hat, and scarf. Use compression packing cubes to fit more in your suitcase; this is essential when packing bulky winter clothes! Cozy up in your favorite winter sweaters and long pants, and bring your favorite pair of boots.
Winter is an underrated time to visit Canada. This is a great place to spend the holiday season or plan a ski trip for the ultimate adventure in Canada. Wherever you decide to explore in Canada, whether it’s the charming Quebec City or the stunning Canadian Rockies, this ultimate packing list for Canada in winter will help you make the most of your trip.
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