Packing for Canadian Winter in Carry On (Snow Sports Included)

Packing Canada Winter

So, it's officially happening. And I'm so freaking excited! This time next month I'll be up in the air on my way from Brisbane to Vancouver. Uh, yeah guys, there's now a direct route from Australia to Canada – thank you Air Canada!

As excited as I am to finally experience that side of the world, I'm a little reluctant to spend two whole weeks skiing.

Y'see, I'm not much of a skier. In fact, I've only really tried it once and I'm not totally sold on the concept of strapping slippery boards to my feet and sliding down a mountain. But hey, I'm willing to give it a real shot this time. 

The thing about travelling to ski, is you're going in winter. And if it's snowing, it's bound to be bloody cold. 

With one month out, and very itchy feet, I'm getting my shit in order and have planned what I need to take to make sure I'm most comfortable while away. Especially considering I'm coming from Australia where our winters drop to a chilly total of 10 degrees. 

I'm going for one month – that's two weeks skiing and nearly three weeks driving around the Rockies. And I've decided to take as little luggage as possible to prove to myself that a month doesn't need to be heavy or back breaking.


The warm outfit equation: 

The key to packing for winter is picking the right materials. It's not about bulky knits and layering multiple tops, there's a simple art to dressing for cold weather.  

1. Base layers – merino wool thermal top and bottoms. These must be merino wool for maximum warmth. 

2. Mid-layers – some people will add a woollen jumper or fleece, I like to feel like myself with a simple long-sleeve top and a woollen/cashmere* knit. That way I can strip off some layers in public when I'm indoors where it tends to be quite warm. 

* I just Googled it, and cashmere is actually eight times warmer than wool, fun fact. Probably about time I invested in a cashmere jumper or two. And seeing as Everlane now ships to Australia I might have to just do it.

3. Outer layers – A warm, waterproof, windproof coat is necessary. I like to bring a down filled puffer vest in case I get particularly cold. 

4. Accessories – Make sure your shoes are waterproof and have decent tread so you won't slip on ice. I've found Dr Martens do the trick. A thick scarf and gloves will come in handy too. 


Yeah, but I'm bringing my ski gear

Me too!

Ski/boarding gear is freaking bulky. If you're not a regular skier and won't be spending a lot of time on the slopes, consider renting the gear. Since I'm skiing for two weeks, I'm bringing my own – some bought, some borrowed from the (pretty much but not legally) in-laws. 

I've cut down on bulkiness by using my sherpa coat as a ski jacket. Now, I'm not recommending this (yet). And I'll update here how it goes once I'm back. My theory is, if it doesn't work out I can always rent or buy a jacket there in town. It's generally a quarter of the price than buying one in Australia anyway. So, if you've got a ski jacket you love, just wear it while you're hiking and exploring the great outdoors. 

The best part about travelling to a ski destination is the extra luggage allowance. You're allowed to bring a ski bag and boot bag! My very best tip would be to stuff your boot and ski bags full of your ski gear. Now, this isn't technically allowed but people do it all the time. As long as you're not filling these bags with books and tripling the weight, you'll get away with it. This saves you heaps of space in your luggage for your day-to-day wear. I'm going to be filling mine with my ski pants, ski gloves and a waterproof fleece jumper.


Saving on space and weight

The best thing you can do to save on space and weight is to wear the bulkiest and heaviest items on the plane. 

And when you've got a bulky coat or scarf, you can sneak extra luggage onto the plane. I usually bring a backpack along with my carry on luggage. The backpack is full of my heavy electronics, the stuff that already weights my allowance. So I'll pop the backpack on my back, with a scarf covering the straps, or hang it on my inner elbow with the coat hanging over it. Works every time. 

Disclosure: I have to say, this packing list is probably not going to cut it for the dead middle of winter. I'm talking those crazy-ass minus-40 degree days, blizzards and the like. I've put this packing list together for Canada in March, so the weather should be pretty decent. I'm definitely going to come back to this list after my trip and review what I took, so stay tuned people.

* Images have been sourced from the amazing folk at Unsplash

Shop the look:

Sherpa Coat, Mountain Designs / Down Vest, Uniqlo / Merino Thermal Top and Bottom, Mountain Designs / Sunglasses, RayBan / Long Sleeve Tees, Assembly Label / Denim Shirt, Asos / Knitwear 01 02 03Everlane / Jeans black and vintage, Dr Denim / Sneakers, Converse / Boots, Dr Martens / Swimsuit, Assembly Label 

You're probably thinking, a swimsuit, man this girl is nutto. But I'm a strong believer that you should pack a swimsuit no matter where you're off to. In cold destinations you could find yourself at a hot spring, with a spa in your accommodation or competing in a Miss Canada world championship. You just never know where your travels may take you.

Tell me, do you have some tips for my trip to Canada? Packing, seeing, doing? I wanna know it all!