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Packing List: Winter Adventures in Canada

Snowshoeing in Canadian backcountry amidst mountaints

Are you thinking of making the trip to Canada this winter, but you’re not quite sure which basics you should pack? We’ve got your back on this one with a packing list for Canada. Keep in mind, winter temperatures in Canada vary from coast to coast, but a few must-have basics will keep you warm and dry throughout the colder months, regardless of your destination and Adventure!

This article is listing the basics of what to wear on a Canadian Adventure and is not geared towards an average day out in the city. Although, many of these items can still be worn in the city, dressing for warmth over fashion can be the make or break point of comfort during the winter months in Canada.

Man standing at the edge of a cliff snowshoeing

From @jason.c.chiu on Instagram

Before we give you the breakdown of what to pack, here’s a few tips and tricks for braving the Canadian cold.

Winter Tips & Tricks: Canada

1- Dress in layers

This way you can dress up or down dependent on the activities of the day. From your base layer (long johns) to your outer layer (snow or rain jacket), being prepared for all weather will ensure your warmth in all activities (whether you’re snowshoeing near Canmore or looking for some backcountry skiing). Which brings us to point two.

2- Check the forecast

Checking the forecast can help you decide how many layers to put on in the morning. Are you Adventuring in 0 degrees celsius today? Or is today leaning towards -15 degrees celsius with a wind chill? Two very different temperatures that require very different layering techniques (and will alter your Canadian vacation packing list!).

3- Research, research, research

Start with checking out the forecast for where you’ll be travelling. But don’t stop there! The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be. Research the extra gear you’ll need for your Adventure. Can you rent some of it? Consider checking a local MEC store for any winter rental gear you might need, or ask your Local if you’ll be heading out on a Yervana Adventure. Will you need to bring buffs to cover your face due to wind chill? Knowledge is key to being prepared for a Canadian winter, and this article is only the beginning.

You can also find out more about trip planning essentials through AdventureSmart’s three T’s!

View of Canadian mountains through fence links

From @in.natures.eyes on Instagram

Winter Packing List: Canada

1- Base Layer


Your base layer consists of your thermal layers- long johns and tops! You’ll be choosing between merino wool or synthetic and your decision will be a personal one. The main purpose of wearing a base layer is to wick moisture away from your skin and help it evaporate quicker. This will help your body hold heat for longer. We recommend staying away from cotton as it holds onto water and loses insulating properties quickly. 

For more information to help you decide on your base layers, read this awesome article from MEC!

Group backcountry touring in Canadian wilderness

From @fx_the_guide on Instagram

2- Midlayer

Jackets (down or synthetic) & sweaters

The midlayer! This our favourite layer because this is the snuggly, cozy, warm and comfortable layer. The nice thing about choosing a down or synthetic jacket for this layer is that you can wear it as your outer layer when temperatures are more mild. You can also do the same with a fleece or other fuzzy sweater. Whatever you choose, make sure it has a high-level of permeability to ensure the air can get through and help sweat evaporate!

3- Outer layer

Jacket (winter or rain)

Your third layer- your true protection from everything Canadian winter has to throw at you! What you opt for here will depend on where your Canadian vacation is taking you. If you’re spending a ton of time on the West Coast, consider investing in a great rain jacket. The winter in BC leans towards water versus snow. But if you’re going to other provinces or spending lots of time in high altitude, you’ll probably experience snow more often than not. Regardless of whether you go for a rain or winter jacket, make sure it is still a breathable layer. You still want the sweat to be wicking and evaporating away.

Some other criteria you may want to consider while packing are: am I protecting myself from wind, water or snow? How many layers will I be wearing below this one?


When it comes to bottoms, again consider the activities you’ll be doing on your trip. For outdoor adventures like skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, be sure to pack an alternative to jeans! Insulated, waterproof/water resistant pants will be essential for keeping you comfortable when you’re out in the snow for hours. Although quality snow pants can be pricey, if you don’t already own some, you may find rental options available for short term use. 

Find out more about choosing your outer layer and compare MEC styles here!

Group of people sitting warmly in a Quinzhee

From @the_art_ofadventure on Instagram

4- Important others


Boots are crucial! Making sure you have the right boots for your Adventures will make your whole body happy. Not only will these keep your toes warm, but they’re also the foundation for keeping a proper posture and alignment. 

Again, MEC has some great current recommendations and considerations for winter boot shopping. Read on here.


Socks are an important item on your packing list for Canada. Take time to pack high quality, warm socks when planning a trip to Canada. Socks will keep your feet warm and also have the ability to wick sweat away!

Woman walking in snowy woods with two dogs

From @ashley.danh on Instagram


Or as we like to call it, a toque! Heat escapes from the top of your head. By protecting your noggin’ from the elements you’ll ensure you keep more heat in. A proper hat, toque or beanie will make your winter experience a positive one.


Gloves and mittens have different pros and cons. Consider the activities and adventures you’ll be going on in Canada and whether or not you’ll need waterproof or water resistant gloves for days out in the snow.


From a scarf to a buff, whatever you decide to use will be a key component, in your packing list for Canada, to keeping your neck and face warm from the cold and wind that Canada will no doubt welcome you with.


Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that there isn’t sun! British Columbia may offer you more grey skies than blue, but anytime you face snow you’ll be facing reflection. Make sure you have a pair of sunnies to protect your eyes regardless of the adventure you’re on.

Man staring at frozen waterfall in Canadian winter

From @jason.c.chiu on Instagram

Canadian winters are full of awesome events, adventures, festivals and experiences that you enjoy to the fullest with a proper wardrobe. Start with this list of tips, tricks, and gear and then make sure to further your research based on your trip interests. And let us know how your packing list for Canada comes together!

Start planning your winter Adventure and explore activities led by Yervana Locals!

We can’t wait to see you all bundled up and traversing the trails!

While planning your Canadian winter Adventures, be sure to check out our always updating Seasonal Adventures. 

Don’t forget to share your experience with the Yervana community via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #Yervana. We’d love to hear about your favourite moments in Canada!



We will show you how to secure yourself into the cable with your lanyards as you climb the steel rungs of the Via Ferrata. It is a very leisurely and enjoyable day with stunning views through Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway on the drive as well the views from above Abraham Lake itself while on the climb are nothing short of spectacular!



Hike through this water sculpted canyon in the heart of the Canadian Rockies below the towering Grotto Mountain. This family friendly hike leads up an canyon scoured white by flood waters, past pictographs, water or ice falls and interesting rock formations such as Hoodoos! Enjoy the riddle of the Hopi natives who are believed to have traveled on foot from the four corners of the USA.

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