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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)

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

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.

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

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 boots and seeing the world filled with vanilla frosting (aka snow) melts my heart.

Winter Clothes Canada – What to pack for Canada in Winter

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

ProvinceAverage
Temperatures
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
January
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
Newfoundland
& 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.

Thermal wear tops and bottoms are a MUST have when you are out and about exploring in 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 and your inability to wear your shoulder bag. During winters, 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 winters. 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 are 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 – Winter 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

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 

Neckwarmer

Scarves are pretty and I adore them. But neck warmers are very functional and “hands-free” so that 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 cold 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

Side note about winter driving in Canada – 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! 

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 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. 

Outerwear:

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

Accessories:

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 

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. You can expect cold weather during the early spring as well. From late spring onwards, a lightweight jacket is a must, along with a scarf, and comfortable walking or hiking shoes. 

Read our Winter Guides to 

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Winter Clothes Canada – What to pack for Canada

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12 Comments

  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!

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