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Winter Clothes Canada – What to pack for Canada in Winter

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Are you traveling to Canada in winter and not sure what to pack and wear? Well, you are in the right place. This is the – Winter Clothes Canada – What to pack for Canada in winter listicle post. If you have been following our blog and/or Instagram you would know we live in Canada.

We are sort of new Canadians – only called this place our home for the past 12 years or so. But let us share some of our Canada winter stories, eh, before we start advising you with product recommendations. (if you are not interested in our stories, hit the table of contents below to get the packing list, easy peasy)

Visiting Canada in winter and wondering what to wear? Read this Winter Clothes Canada buying and packing guide to enjoy a happy and safe winter wonderland!
Winter Clothes Canada Buying & Packing Guide

So in the past 12 years, we have lived in 3 provinces, fortunate yes, and also well experienced with battling up to -45 degrees Celsius on a winter workday. I have also dragged and crawled myself out of knee-deep snow, as I am 5 foot something (crawling is too much, but you get the hint).

We braved windchill, waited for buses without sheds, forgot mittens, and drove in blowing snow and whatnot. And we survived. And we think you can do with this awesome guide that we have prepared.

Canmore winter: Ultimate packing list for Canada in winter

To be honest, winter is a beautiful time in Canada. Don’t let my stories discourage you. We have actually never tried to escape winters here (in spite of the struggles). I love wearing my hiking boots and seeing the world filled with vanilla frosting (aka snow) melts my heart.

Winter Clothes Canada – What to Pack for Canada in Winter

Winter Clothes Canada - What to pack for Canada in winter
Winter Clothes Canada – What to pack for Canada in winter

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Here is a quick overview of average Canadian winter temperatures (with windchill)

Coldest Months
Alberta-5 to – 40 deg C
23 to – 40 deg F
January – February
British Columbia0 to 5 deg C
32 to 41 deg F
Mild winter temperature
Manitoba-18 to -40 deg C
-.4 to – 40 deg F
New Brunswick– 15 to -25 deg C
5 to – 13 deg F
Mid-December – Mid January
Nova Scotia0 to – 10 deg C
32 to – 14 deg F
Mid-December – Mid January
Ontario0 to – 30 deg C
32 to – 22 deg F
December – January
Quebec– 5 to – 10 deg C
23 to – 14 deg F
December – March
Saskatchewan0 to – 30 deg C
32 to – 22 deg F
December – February
& Labrador
– 10 to – 20 deg C
14 to – 4 deg F
Average temperatures in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit

Did you know that the coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was −63 °C in Snag, Yukon.

Thermal or Long Johns 

Thermals, also called long johns are two-piece underwear with long legs and long sleeves. It is worn under the main clothes in winter. They are great for retaining body heat in extremely cold weather, and better than jeans or shirts.

Thermal wear tops and bottoms are a MUST-have when you are out and about exploring Canada in winters. They will keep you warm and save you from layering on.

(Trust me, if you are not used to TOO many layers, you will be annoyed with the bulkiness of sweaters and jackets; and your inability to wear your shoulder bag. During winter, try cross body bags – game-changer)

Wear a thermal top and then layer on with a regular top and then an outerwear jacket.

For bottoms, wear your thermal bottom as a base layer, follow up by your jeans or any other pants. (Some people also wear thermal leggings by themselves, with AWESOME tall boots)

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Outerwear – Winter Jackets & Wool Coats 

INVEST in a good outerwear jacket (or a wool winter coat) for all winter travels. We do prefer winter jackets to coats, as you will be blessed with a hood to cover your head. And sometimes you NEED that in addition to your toque (beanie or a warm cap).

Most hoodies are detachable and they come with fur lining to ward off blowing snow/winds.

Buy jackets that are filled with down feathers, have deep pockets (your hands need LOVE if you forgot your gloves), a hood, and tight cuffs to cut the cold. We prefer jackets that cover the torso (up to your bum, as they need protection too).

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Some of the well-known brands for insulated down jackets (winter jackets) include Columbia, Arc’teryx, The North Face, and Mountain Ware House. These brands are available online and can be purchased on Amazon as well.

Canada Goose is a premier brand and their jackets although pricey, are SUPER warm. They are usually true to size. So if you are wearing a medium in most outerwear, you can surely pick the TTS. 

Insulated warm jackets, quality, and good ones will be $200 CAD and above. Depending on the style you choose (and your cold threshold) you will have to rely on thermals for additional warmth. 

EDITOR’S PICK: Click to check out my favorite winter parka from the North Face 

Wool Coats are also a great option to wear during winter. However, if you are venturing outside a winter jacket is handy and a better option.

The hood and the elastic cuffs help seal the cold and most jacket materials will be waterproof, which is super useful when it is snowing.

What to pack for Canada in Winter
Banff Gondola – Canada Winters

I own a few wool coats and normally wear them when it is not snowing outside. So I pretty much use it indoors, getting in and out of the car or when the temperature is not – 15 Celsius or below.

If you plan on wearing it outdoors (because I know those wool coats are pretty), then wear a thermal layer underneath, and don’t forget the scarf and a warm cap.

The finest wool coats are expensive, as compared to winter jackets. Sure you can find a peacoat for $45 CAD, but they will not keep you warm.

Good quality warm coats start at $300 CAD and above. They will also have a water repellent coating to ward off occasional snow or flurries. And you have to dry clean them to maintain their “glow”.

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Merino Wool Sweaters & Cardigans (vs) light fleece jackets

Cardigans are my weakness! Eesh, but true. I wear cardigans even in the summertime, so it is definitely a MUST for winters in Canada. INVEST in a merino wool cardigan.

Merino wool cardigans are super warm, without the bulkiness. They are perfect as a mid-layer (and you wear the outerwear on top). 

Cardigans will also keep you warm and toasty indoors. I switch my long johns/thermals for Merino wool cardigans if I plan on spending most of the time indoors. 

You can purchase Merino wool sweaters as well. (It’s just me that LOVE wearing cardigans).

Here are some Merino wool sweaters and cardigans to choose from 

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Snow pants or winter pants

If you will be doing a lot of winter activities here, wear specific pants like ski pants for skiing and snowshoeing activities.

You can also wear snow pants for the everyday commute, especially if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, in transit, or if heavy snowfall is being fore-casted.

Snow pants keep you warm and are water (also dirt) proof. Layering is still important, so don’t forget your long johns or thermal wear.

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Shoes – Snow or Winter Boots and Hiking Boots

Winter shoes are different, hope you agree with us here. Sports shoes or runners, flats, etc will not work. All winter shoes have a strong grip and an anti-slip base.

On some winter days, you will experience icy- slippery roads and sidewalks, and on some days you will find TONS of snow. Just depends.

What leads to icy and slippery roads is when the temperature drops and the air circulates both above and below the surface of the elevated roadway. Also known as black ice. If you see this warning on sidewalks you know what it is.

On a side note, walk slowly and watch your step while walking on icy sidewalks. Walking slowly and watching your step goes a long way, trust me. (I have never fallen on ice, I walk very slllloowww on ice. Too afraid to be embarrassed).

But shoes are important. Don’t purchase anything that is fashion boots with no grip (flat surfaces), they don’t work.

I own a few – no good. Buy sturdy winter boots, with a solid grip, they are waterproof and can withstand cold temperatures. Some recommended options are highlighted below.

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Depending on how much snow is on the trails, you may have to wear snow or hiking boots with ice cleats. Ice cleats are super light and can be added to any pair of boots. You can save money by buying online, prior to your winter trip!

🖤 Check prices of ice cleats from Amazon here (get them faster with Prime delivery)

Warm Socks

Wear warm (and thick) woolen socks. Some sock manufacturers will provide you the temperature estimates so you can choose wisely. We prefer wearing socks indoors – at home as well, to keep warm and toasty.

There are different types of socks available in the market. Merino wool socks are the most preferred for most outdoor activities. You will also find thermal insulated socks which are thick and can be super warm as long as you wear sturdy shoes. 

Thermal socks are also sweat-wicking and they will keep your feet warmer than traditional cotton socks.

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Mittens or Gloves – Winter Clothes Canada & Accessories 

Winter brings in dry hands, so keep them warm and toasty. Wear gloves. Affectionately we call them mitts or mittens, made of wool, you can purchase them with or without fingers.

Gloves also come with touch screen patches that work well on your smartphones and tablets on the go. (like the one below and it is unisex)

Without gloves, your hands will be bleeding (okay that’s TOO much, but due to the wind chill and cold/frost your hands will be super dry and could crack and bleed). Take care of your pretty hands!

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Warm cap (Canadian Toque)

Before moving to Canada, I seriously disliked warm caps (my hair is fine and it makes my hair look even flattered and with no volume!). But now I LOVE colorful toques. Plus if you are having a bad hair day, it hides your hair. And most importantly, it PROTECTS you from the cold.

I have started experimenting with different colors and shapes (yes fashionable guys) and don’t fight the cold without wearing a warm cap in Canada.

🖤 Check reviews and prices

Ear Muff

Earmuffs are cute and functional. And they are unisex! Earmuffs help protect your ears and eardrums from winter elements and keep them warm. I own one with fur, like this one below.

These ones below are unisex.

Earmuffs come in different shapes and colors. You can wear them alone or match them up with your warm hat.

🖤 Check out prices and reviews for ear muffs here 


Scarves are pretty and I adore them. But neck warmers are very functional and “hands-free” so you can hold that bag (or wall or guard rail) while you walk.

Neck warmers are unisex as well. Some are available as “one size” only. Wearing it can prevent colds and flu.

🖤 Check out prices for neck warmers here

Hand Warmer

Yes, there are gloves and then there are hand warmers. They are like PERFECT Christmas presents too! So handy. The heat inside the pouch activates upon the touch of your hands and gives warmth, ain’t cool?

Use them if you are out and about hiking, waiting for Santa Parade (yes in the cold, usually in November), or waiting for a ride. It can easily slip into your purse or outerwear.

🖤 Check out prices and reviews for hand warmers here

Other Canada Winter Packing Essentials

  • Moisturizer for the face and body – Love my Body Shop Vitamin E for face and body. Buy my favorite moisturizer here
  • Face oil is also handy 
  • Hand Lotion – Carry hand lotion in your purse
  • Lip Balm – Lipstick or lip balm is SUPER essential.
  • Sunglasses – Winter sun is harsher on your skin than the summer. Eyewear is essential. Buy my fav Rayban Sunglass here
  • Take the sunshine whenever possible and use sunscreen

Travel Insurance for your Canada winter trip

Traveling to Canada during the winter months can be a great experience, but it is important to ensure that you are properly protected in case of an emergency. One way to do this is by adding travel insurance for your trip. 

Travel insurance will provide protection from financial loss due to unexpected events such as medical emergencies, baggage or document losses, flight cancelations and delays, and other unforeseen expenses.

Get a free quote for Safety Wing Travel Insurance

In addition to providing financial protection in case of an emergency, travel insurance may also provide peace of mind while on your trip.

Knowing that you have a policy in place can help you to relax and enjoy your time away from home, without worrying about the potential financial implications of an unexpected event.

Side note about winter driving in Canada – When renting a car, purchase auto insurance with a collision damage waiver and other levels of liability. Use winter tires and follow local news and information alerts to stay safe on the road. 

Preparing your Canada Packing List: Packing and Travel Tips

We have listed all the important Canadian winter clothes and accessories. When you are styling, keep the following things in mind to stay warm while still looking great! 

Girl in Johnston Canyon in winter in full snow outfit
Packing list winter: Hiking boots + cleats + Parka (outerwear) + fleece jacket (mid-layer) toque + gloves

Every winter outfit will have 3 layers – 

  • base layer (what you wear underneath to stay warm)
  • mid layer (to keep the heat in, yet be breathable) and 
  • outer layer (to protect against the main elements – snow, rain, etc.)

Always being with a warm base layer, add on insulation, and then put on your outerwear. Finally, style with your colorful winter accessories. 

Base layers:

The base layer is your long johns or thermal top and bottom. You can buy them as a pair or separately and use them during winter. 

Merino thermal wear does a great job of wicking moisture away from your body. And they can be worn under almost any outfit to help you stay dry and warm.

If it is not super cold like in places on the coast or British Columbia, you can get by with tights or wool leggings under your pants/jeans for warmth. 

Jasper National Park: Canada pack and wear for winters!

In the picture above, taken in Jasper National Park I am wearing a thermal top and bottom. I put on the skirt for photography!

As always don’t forget to wear your merino wool socks before heading outside for a sightseeing trip! Ensure the socks are long enough to be tucked underneath or over your base layer/leggings.

Base layers to buy:

Mid layer:

Over your base layer, you can wear something like a cardigan, or long sleeve shirt. A light sweatshirt would also work as long as it doesn’t restrict your movement. 

Choose items that are made of fleece, merino wool, or flannel to help you stay warm. Materials like these will keep you warm and as they are breathable, so you are less likely to get/feel overheated.

A sweater dress or a pretty cardigan can all be used as a mid layer. 

For pants, we prefer to wear jeans as a mid-layer. But you can always choose any other fabric that you are comfortable in like wool-based, or corduroys. 


The heavy wool coat or the winter parka is your outer layer. A nice parka in a neutral color like tan, beige, or black will go a long way in styling with colorful winter accessories. 

Winter or snow pants can be worn as outerwear when the temperatures drop down a lot. 

Note: You must always proper gear when indulging in winter activities and snow sports such as skiing in various places from Blue Mountain, Banff to Whistler. Or tobogganing in Quebec City. 

Read: Best places to visit in Canada in winter


Lastly brighten up your outfit with colorful beanies (with a pom pom), patterned scarves, and gloves! If you are looking for Canada souvenirs, get a pair of mittens with Canada’s colors and a maple leaf!

You can choose from a wide range of materials for your accessories from cashmere, and merino wool, to heavy knits. 

Canada Winter Packing List: Winter Wear Canada

Here is what a Canada Winter Clothing Packing list should look like

  • Winter Jacket (or Wool Coat) – 1
  • Long Johns or Thermal Tops and bottoms – 2
  • Sweater/Cardigan  – 2
  • Regular tops – 2-4
  • Winter Pants/Snow Pants – 2
  • Jeans or Trousers – 2
  • Snow Shoes or boots – 1
  • Warm socks – 2 – 4
  • Warm gloves or mittens – 1
  • Warm hat or beanie – 1
  • Scarf – 1- 2
  • Ear Muff – 1
  • Neck Warmer
  • Hand Warmers
  • Lip balm – 1
  • Moisturizer – 1
  • Sunglass – 1 

Canada in Winter Travel Guide for First time visitors 

Visiting Canada in winter is a special experience that you won’t soon forget! 

If this is your first winter in the Great White North, here are some travel tips to keep in mind as you plan your trip,

The first thing is that you must consider the weather conditions of the areas you want to explore; snowfall amounts vary throughout the country, so be sure to research the area you’ll be visiting. 

In general, snowfall increases as you travel further north and at higher elevations. 

There are freezing cold temperatures and then there are icy cold winter winds. Due to the latter, the face or any parts of the exposed skin may crack or even bleed – so always check the ‘feels like’ temps, wind gusts information, and any weather warnings before you embark outdoors!

Canadian winters are severe from December to February. In some provinces, snow can be seen on the ground until March or up to late spring. 

Warm clothing is super essential (and that’s why you are reading this post). It’s important to dress appropriately for the cold temperatures; layered clothing is essential, including warm woolen socks, a winter coat, a scarf, a hat, and gloves. 

Good parkas can last many years. My last one lasted 6 years 🙂 Send them for dry cleaning to keep them in good shape!

Waterproof boots are also recommended in order to protect your feet from snow and cold temperatures. 

If you plan on engaging in winter activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating, make sure to bring along the necessary gear; renting equipment is an option if you’d prefer not to carry it with you.

Because you can expect cold weather during the early spring days too – it is recommended that you pack a lightweight jacket, along with a scarf, and comfortable walking or hiking shoes. It is a must-have actually at all times of the year when you are out and about!

Vancouver to Banff road trips

For sightseeing, road trips are popular in Canada – even in winter. When driving in Canada in winter, be aware of potential hazards such as avalanches and frostbite. 

The roads may be slippery due to ice, snow, and slush. It’s important to make sure you have a reliable vehicle with winter tires, traction mats, and other supplies like blankets, water, food, and first aid kits in case of emergency.

To stay safe, be sure to take precautions like carrying a compass or GPS device if exploring remote areas, and researching the area you’ll be visiting in advance.

Sunwapta falls in winter
Winter Packing List Canada

If you are uncomfortable driving here in the winter, we recommend booking guided tours. They will ensure you check off your Canada bucket list items and stay safe!

Overall, planning ahead is key for making the most of your visit to Canada in winter; by taking these steps, you can ensure that your trip is an enjoyable one.

Read our Winter Guides to 

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Winter Clothes Canada
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Winter Clothes Canada – What to pack for Canada

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  1. Nice post about the packing tips for winter clothes canda, I think your post useful for more people. Thanks for sharing the information.

  2. WOW! These are some awesome tips. Though I love winters a lot but only if I have a huge collections of long boots and trench coats. And for me having a winter collection is different and having a stylish winter collection is far away different.

  3. So glad to come cross this post. I’m from a warm state in US and will be visiting Vancouver in December. This is very helpful post for me to pack my family’s clothing for the trip!

  4. Hello Mayuri congratulations! great blog. I need further help . I am planning to come to Saskatchewan this March, what additional things should I bear in mind? Also I would like to know if merino wool bottom base layer and a jeans would be enough for the months March and April in Saskatchewan? I am concerned because parka would not cover the bottom half/legs.

    1. Hi Muzaffar!

      Thank you for your kind words. Yup, that should suffice.

      Don’t forget to wear warm/insulated and waterproof boots. We lived in Saskatchewan for close to 5 years and you will find slushy road conditions in those months – so be careful when you walk and drive

      Stay warm and safe 🙂

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