Packing for cold-weather travel

Myscha Theriault / McClatchy-Tribune News Service /


Published Feb 10, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Winter weather has a way of waging war against the light-packing efforts of even the most seasoned traveler. The extra bulk that comes with sweaters, scarves, earmuffs and mittens can make carry-on containment nearly impossible. By wearing as much as possible on flight days and including a few efficiently-packed essentials, you can do your part to keep luggage logistics under control.

Footwear: Keeping your feet warm on a winter getaway takes planning, particularly if you are trying hard to adhere to carry-on requirements. In addition to a pair of dressy treaded shoes to wear to dinner, packable boots have a place on your list of cold-weather travel essentials. Teva’s Jordanelle boot for women and their men’s Chair 5 model each fold into themselves, taking up no more room than a regular pair of sturdy shoes. Each comes with a removable insulated bootie with a rubberized sole, forming what is in essence a slipper that can be worn inside cabins to avoid slush puddles. Having two pairs of footwear for the price of one makes the price palatable, although with a minimal amount of online comparison shopping, both models can be had for between $100 and $130.

Socks are also serious business when it comes to making sure your tootsies remain toasty. For those who are willing to put in the research time, it’s possible to procure ones that are warm enough without being too thick and heavy. For example, PowerSox produces a number of sock collections suitable for snowy getaways, many of them available in multipacks for less than $25

Supplies: If you’re deliberately traveling to somewhere that’s likely to leave you with a case of the sniffles and some seriously chapped skin, it pays to pack preventatively. SkinFare offers several certified organic skin balms in retractable, biodegradable tubes. Used for a variety of issues from rough elbows, lip moisturizing, cheek chafing and even dry nostrils, the multi-scented balms cost $10 and are roughly the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk. Other items I favor for frosty destinations include wellness teas, lozenges, powdered flu medicines and deep conditioning treatments for dealing with split ends.

Janet Podolak, food and travel editor for The News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio, leverages her need for clean laundry in order to combat dry conditions. Says Podolak, “As a longtime newspaper travel editor I often go to cold places in the winter. Battling dry winter air is one constant dilemma.” Her solution? Using the room heater as a spot to dry undergarments and other light items she typically launders in her hotel room.

Gear: Wind resistance and warmth are critical things to consider when you are required to match wits with the weather in order to achieve your desired itinerary. A large part of that battle can be won with hats. Seirus makes a number of winter-worthy options, although their quick clavas go the extra mile to provide a two-in-one warming solution for travelers. At first glance, they look like your typical mid-weight knit hat. What’s hidden inside is an easy-to-pull-down face covering that can be worn over the nose, leaving only the eyes exposed. With an MSRP range of $20 to $35, they’re an affordable solution for those who’d rather forego the extra suitcase bulk that comes with a heavy face scarf. An even more streamlined solution exists with the performance beanie produced by Headsweats. Made of a thin fleece, it’s designed to pack flat and comes with a discreet ponytail hole towards the bottom of the back edge that’s suitable for both genders. At $22, it’s workable for a wide range of budgets.

Quilted outerwear vests provide body warmth while avoiding the restrictive bulk that can come from wearing heavy sweaters under full jackets. Wind resistance and warmth can also be found in specially-designed thinner garments, such as the Leadville jacket from Marmot. It’s strong enough to support spring skiing and alpine hiking, yet streamlined enough for efficient packing.