8 Essential Items To Pack For A Snow-Kissed Sub-Zero Adventure



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With holiday travel plans as uncertain as ever this summer, it seems like many of us are planning a winter getaway instead. 

From skiing and sledging in the French Alps to discovering the Northern Lights in Iceland, all the way to exploring Europe’s best Christmas markets, you’ll need an appropriately packed wardrobe to protect you from the biting cold and prolonged periods outside, exposed to the elements. 

With that in mind, if you’re planning a snow-kissed, sub-zero holiday, here’s our pick of 8 essential clothing items you should pack.

Weatherproof Jacket

A shower of snowflakes that leave you wet through, harsh winter winds and constant downpours…these unpredictable elements can certainly kill the buzz pretty quickly on a cold weather trip if you’re not prepared for it.

So, first things first, you’re going to need a winter jacket to see you through to your destination warm, dry and happy. It’s important to note here that not all ‘waterproof’ jackets were created equal, and many on the high street are only water repellant (not the same thing and not offering the equivalent level of protection). These don’t actually qualify as ‘waterproof’, though they might try to claim that they are. 

It’s not generally wise to skimp and save on a winter coat, as the brisk winds and temperamental skies of a cold and snowy trip make quick work of a cheaply made number.  

We suggest investing in a heavily padded puffer coat – you know the kind that looks a bit like a sleeping bag. We’re fans of puffa-esque Moncler jackets. Where some versions can make you look like the Michelin man, Moncler’s has a fitted silhouette style, meaning they’re rather flattering. 

Moncler was actually the first company to develop specific equipment for high altitude and harsh weather conditions –  a fashion and survival piece, it really is a no brainer. Moncler is, of course, an investment item, and if you’re looking for something similar but more affordable, check out the commercial fishing company Stormline, whose wet weather gear is top notch and properly waterproof, as well as Eddie Bauer, Marmot, North Face, Aritzia and Canada Goose or Patagonia. Uniqlo is also brilliant for affordable down jackets which actually keep you warm. 

For us, a hooded coat is non-negotiable on a cold weather trip to help protect you from the elements. That said, hoods can be annoying at times, so go for a coat with a detachable hood, allowing you to customise your coat according to the weather.

Read: 8 men’s winter coat trends to keep you snug and stylish in 2024

Trousers With Adjustable Waistlines 

When it comes to things to pack for a cold weather trip, trousers with adjustable waistlines are essential. 

Hear us out; the food in colder climes tends to be on the hearty side, to put it mildly, and you might find yourself needing some extra room, post-dinner. Take the French Alps for example. Alpine food is undoubtedly the best fuel for skiers; highly calorific and based on lots of melted cheese and potatoes, these dishes –  think fondue, Raclette and Tartiflette – were designed to keep mountain villagers who were often isolated for months going during the long, snowy winters.

And then look at the food in Amsterdam, which is, to put it bluntly (no pun intended), a little stodgy. It’s also incredibly moreish – with classics like pannekoeken, appeltaart, stroopwafels and patatje oorlog, where the chips are piled high with mayonnaise, peanut satay sauce and diced raw onions, all keeping the cold at bay.

Not only does the food become heartier in colder climes, but we also tend to eat more in such weather, because eating raises our body temperature, giving us the urge to eat more

Basically, you’re going to be doing a lot of eating, so pack some trousers with waistline flexibility. After all, there’s nothing quite so uncomfortable as going out for a meal on holiday and having to negotiate the top button of your trousers midway through. 

Read: 8 packing tips that will make preparing for your holiday so much easier

A Roll Neck Sweater

A roll neck sweater is one of the hardest working pieces in any winter wardrobe, and these fashionable items are hugely effective at keeping often exposed parts protected when a sudden cold front rolls in. 

Moreover, the roll neck gives a sophisticated spin on just about any look, which can be particularly hard to achieve when you’re wrapped to the hilts. The fashion experts at iyoobo.com, who run a website selling sweaters galore, tell us top opt for Merino wool, as it’s softer, more breathable, and does a good job at regulating temperature to keep you warm in different environments. Here at IDEAL we’re big fans of fine-rib turtlenecks, which are great as a layering piece. 


It should go without saying that packing for a cold weather trip is all about leaving room for layering. However, a cold weather suitcase can quickly get cumbersome with all those extra layers packed in. 

Enter thermals. 

A good set of thermal underwear, long johns, and other base layers are essential for a winter trip. These items work by trapping warm air close to your body, providing much needed insulation and keeping things toasty from within. 

The Independent recommends looking for thermals “that use flatlock stitching, which means sewing raw ends together so there’s no bulky seam and avoids any rubbing against your skin”.  

And when it comes to the best material, many people swear by the Merino we previously mentioned, which is “warm but still highly breathable, and is great at wicking away sweat”. Moreover, Merino has antibacterial properties, meaning it isn’t prone to absorbing odours – so if you wear the same one for days on end, it doesn’t really matter. 

Winter Boots 

According to GoodHousekeeping, when choosing a winter boot, you should consider the inner fabric and outer material. When it comes to the inner lining of your boot, they suggest ‘thinsulate’ is best for wetter climates, keeping you warm but without the weight.  

Shoes lined with wool are great for ”warmth but not for sweat”, they add. And when it comes to the outer boots’ material, you should look for a water resistant option like nylon, prioritising pretreated water proofing. 

Of course, soles should have good traction for slippery conditions. Another consideration is boot height. Will you be wading through deep snow or sticking to city streets? Boots with a short height are best for city adventures, sure, but you’ll want something taller if you’re planning to veer off the beaten path. Either way, you should look out for a ‘gusseted tongue’ which keeps out the snow or rain. 

Winter Face Masks

Facemasks; not confined to the dark times of COVID, but also adept at keeping our faces warm and sheltered from the cold weather. 

Just as light, breathable and moisture wicking masks are essential for the summer months, so is something a little heftier to protect against the cold recommended for winter.

Look out for masks with lanyard-esque features; they not only make all that eating and drinking we spoke about earlier easier, but they also mean you don’t have to fumble around with your mask while you’re travelling.

You can also buy ear muff facemasks. These hybrids cover your ears too, keeping them toasty and warm. The finest versions, it seems look a bit like quilted puffa jackets but for your face, and have an antibacterial wicking layer to keep moisture out and warmth in.

Smartphone Gloves

Frostbite and Facebook just don’t go, and because of this, a great accessory currently on the market for travellers is a pair of touchscreen friendly gloves. If you are travelling to somewhere with a colder climates, then using your Android phone without freezing your fingers can be tough.

What comes in handy for these vacations is the touch screen friendly gloves, perfect for checking your messages or taking selfies while enjoying the slopes at Whistler or snapping pics of the Mont Blanc Massif from Courmayeur. Fingerless mitten gloves work here, too.

Bra Pocket Or Money Belt

Carrying a bag around with you on a winter holiday can be a pain. Massive jackets are not natural bedfellows with big bags slung over the shoulder, and it’s hard to comfortably rest one on your shoulders should you be all wrapped up. Enter the travel bra and money belt to bring comfort and convenience to your trip.

Travel bras come with hidden pockets to keep your passport, cash or cards more close to hand. For comfort, look for a travel bra with wicking materials and antibacterial properties. If you don’t wear a bra, a money belt with secret compartments is ideal. 

The Bottom Line

Whilst we realise it’s remiss to mention winter when we haven’t even enjoyed summer yet, it’s looking likely that a holiday in colder climes is a more realistic goal right now. As such, we hope this list has given you ample time to prepare your packing list for your trip.

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