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Cold Weather Gear for Women That Packs Light


Are you a boomer traveler who still enjoys snow—in a limited amount—combined with winter activities that are fairly easy to do? Me too.

When preparing for a cold weather trip, do you find yourself thinking, “What am I going to wear?” I used to feel the same way.

Like you, I’m not a hardcore woman adventurer who needs expensive, arctic clothing. Instead, I’m on the lookout for layered clothing that looks good, will keep me warm, is easy to pack—and fits a mature woman’s body.

Through the years, I’ve shared my favorites with you. Although I’m still wearing many of the same winter clothes, I’ve added a couple of must-have items to my cold weather gear list and replaced old favorites that have worn out and are no longer available. So even if you’ve read my winter fashion advice in the past, give this another look for my latest winter outdoor fashion tips.

Cold weather gear for women travel tips help you dress for an occasional cold weather trip without spending tons of money. And did I mention this winter gear packs light?

My favorite cold weather gear for women that packs light

Wearing my dual purpose, lightweight winter gear on a snowshoe outing in Montana. A water-resistant jacket like the Kirkland Signature Softshell Jacket is the key to staying warm and dry.

Wearing my dual purpose, lightweight winter gear on a snowshoe outing in Montana. A water-resistant jacket like the Kirkland Signature Softshell Jacket is the key to staying warm and dry.

Do you like to experience a winter adventure every so often? For women travelers who aren’t skiers or avid winter enthusiasts, cold weather gear for women can be expensive. But you still want to have fun in the snow once in a while, right? I hear you.

When I lived in Arizona, a snowy trip meant scrounging through my closet to find something—anything—to keep me warm. Forget about the women’s outdoor fashion statement.

So off I would go in bulky clothes that were 20-year-old leftovers over from my Virginia days. After all, I lived in the sunny Southwest so why would I spend a lot of money on winter clothing that I might wear once every two years?

They don’t call me determined Donna for nothing. I came up with a solution by finding clothing that is dual purpose but capable of keeping me warm during cold weather trips. I even use these clothes now that I live in Montana.

Try my cold weather packing list that is budget-friendly, good-looking, practical, and warm for your next winter adventure. The items are not bulky. In fact, they’re lightweight enough to fit in my favorite Eagle Creek rolling carryon with room to spare.

Winter gear for women: tops and pants

Sometimes a fleece jacket is all that you need to stay warm on a snowy walk in the winter.

Wearing my Columbia fleece jacket on a snowy walk in Montana. It comes in an assortment of colors so that you look good in snowy photos.

Layering is the key to staying warm while packing light. A thermal base layer followed by a turtleneck, rain pants, fleece jacket and waterproof jacket are all that’s needed, unless you’re headed for sub-zero temperatures on an Antarctica cruise.

And the turtleneck or fleece jacket will do double duty as a casual outfit when you’re not playing in the snow. I’d suggest a sleeveless quilted vest, as well, for those sunny days that cause an unexpected rise in the temperature.

Want to stand out in your snow photos? Wear a brightly colored jacket instead of a dark one.

My winter gear starts with a base layer of a long sleeve crew shirt and  Merino blend base layer pants. Then I add a Chico’s lightweight turtleneck (I’ve had mine for ages) plus rain pants that I bought at REI when Alan and I went hiking in Glacier National Park with Road Scholar, although these  Columbia Storm Surge Pant would work well, too.


I top off my winter clothing ensemble with a  Columbia Fleece Jacket or a Kirkland Signature Water-repellent Softshell Jacket that’s lined with fleece velour, also items that I use for hiking in colder weather. If it’s extra cold, I wear the base layer, turtlneck and fleece jacket underneath the water-repellent coat.

Keeping hands and feet warm and dry in cold weather

On a sunny day snowshoeing in Montana, I layered up with a quilted, sleeveless vest worn over safari pants and shirt and thermasilk base layers.

One thing I’ve learned the hard way—you won’t have any fun if your feet or hands are wet and freezing. For hands, start with a pair of glove liners and  Thinsulate Insulated Touchscreen Gloves.

The same layering applies to your feet. Begin with sock liners followed by  Merino Wool Hiker Socks. Wear hiking shoes (you already own a pair, right?) with a pair of gaiters to protect legs from getting wet. This eliminates the need to pack snow boots—remember, we’re gearing up for casual fun in the snow, not a heavy duty skiing excursion.


The finishing touches for staying comfortable on a winter trip

fleece neck warmer is such a handy piece of winter gear. It keeps my neck warm but it’s also big enough to pull over my chin all the way up to my nose if my face is cold.

Of course every winter adventurer needs a warm knit hat. And earmuffs  will still keep my ears warm when I rip off the hat due to overheating while snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen for bright, sunny days. And be sure to tuck several packages of adhesive hand and toe warmers into your carryon. They come in varieties for hands, toes, feet and more. It’s your insurance against extra cold weather.


As I mentioned earlier, this cold weather gear for women packing list is for the casual winter visitor. If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, check Packing Tips for Winter Travel from Dave and Deb at The Planet D.

I find most of my winter clothing at Costco. If you have family or friends who live in a cold weather city, ask them to go shopping at Costco for you in August or September when the store is well-stocked with winter gear. But I’ve also sourced many of the same items at Amazon to make winter shopping easy for you, simply click through to my list of Cold Weather Gear for Women.

Technology continues to improve fabrics for winter clothing, making the items even more lightweight and heat efficient. So check back here often as I share my latest finds with you.

Did I leave your favorite item off the list? Let me know.

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Cold weather gear for women that packs light. Look good, stay warm, have fun in the snow. #wintergear #coldweather #boomertravel

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