Cold-Weather Essentials to Pack for Winter Travel

Imagine wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of hot cocoa while you stare out the window at snowy slopes.

It’s a winter paradise.

But before you can get to that ski resort, retreat, or wherever your winter travels take you, you need to pack. You want to be prepared for the weather — especially if you’re going to participate in winter sports — but you don’t want to overpack.

If you aren’t sure what to take, you’ve come to the right place. Stop staring at your closet, wondering how you’re going to fit everything you need, and start taking notes about these winter travel essentials.

Winter Travel Packing List

Packing for winter travel can be a hassle. You want to take your favorite sweaters, scarves, and pants, plus your new sweatshirts and matching joggers. And then there’s the winter sports equipment, boots, and socks, not to mention toiletries and a book to read on the way.

All those bulky clothes barely fit in one bag, and you’re left trying to shove everything in and make it work. Or maybe you’re considering packing a second — or third — suitcase just to ensure you have enough clothes to stay warm yet look on point during your trip.

But the trick to traveling in the winter is packing only the essentials — making sure you have some clothes to layer that are also thin enough to fit easily in a suitcase.

Winter Travel Essentials

1. The Right Bag

You can’t start packing without something to put your gear in, so make sure you have a travel bag. You might opt for something large like The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag or the adidas Gym Duffel Bag as your main luggage, then take a Nike Sportswear Backpack or Nike Heritage Topographic Crossbody Bag for day use.

Looking for something with a splash of color? The North Face Tote Backpack and Jester Backpacks for women come in bright colors that will make you stand out on the slopes.

2. Enough Socks

One commonly overlooked item when packing is socks. Perhaps when traveling to the beach or during summer, forgetting socks wouldn’t be a huge deal. But during winter, socks are a must-have.

So make sure you have at least one pair for each day you’re traveling, plus a few extra pairs for when your socks get wet from the snow. Nike Cushioned Crew Socks give you some extra padding and warmth, and they come in various colors and styles.

3. A Few Pairs of Gloves

While you don’t want to overpack, it’s always smart to take at least two pairs of gloves so you can still stay warm even when one gets wet.

Start with an essential pair of The North Face gloves — our top picks are the Denali Etip Gloves or the Apex Insulated Etip Gloves — and then add a pair of Nike Tech Fleece Gloves. If you want something fuzzy, pack a pair of women’s The North Face Osito Gloves or Nike Sherpa Mittens.

4. Warm Headware

When packing for winter travel, don’t forget to pack extra warmth like headbands, hats, and scarves, even if you stick them in the outside pockets of your backpack or duffel bag.

The Nike Sherpa Headband is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket but warm enough to keep your ears from freezing. Same with The North Face and adidas Beanie Hats, so make sure they make your winter travel packing list. And finally, fill those last few spaces in your duffel bag with a Nike Scarf or Neck Warmer.

Essential Cold-Weather Shoes & Apparel

1. The Bottom Layers

Remember what we said about layers? Make sure you pack enough tanks and T-shirts to go under your sweatshirt or jacket so you can stay warm and look your best out on the slopes and indoors.

Women might start with a Nike Long-sleeve Crop Top or maybe an Under Armour Sports Bra. The next layer could be a The North Face Long-sleeve Shirt or an adidas Ski Chic Shirt.

For all the men out there, we recommend starting with the Nike Everyday Tank and several pairs of cotton boxer briefs — you can’t forget those! Next up are long-sleeve shirts, with styles from The North Face, Nike, and Vans.

2. Some Warm Loungewear

After a day out in the cold, you’ll want to relax in something warm. For that comfy-chic vibe, pack one or two sweatshirts, like the Nike Fleece Hoodie or the Jordan Fleece Pullover Hoodie. If you prefer something without a hood —  which makes for easier packing — consider a Nike Crewneck Sweatshirt.

Complete the look with some fleece jogger pants that are easy to pack (unlike stiff, bulky jeans). You might like the Timberland Joggers or the Nike cuffed pair.

3. A Warm Jacket

Don’t forget the most important winter essentials item: your jacket.

You might be able to wear or carry your jacket so it won’t take up too much packing space, meaning you can take something extra warm like The North Face Belted Parka. If you like a shorter fit, The North Face Retro Nuptse comes in five colors.

For the men, we recommend a Nike Windrunner Jacket or a Timberland Puffer Jacket. You can also layer a Supply & Demand Vest over a hoodie, saving you plenty of packing space.

4. The Kicks

Did we say the jacket was the most important item? Scratch that. It’s definitely the shoes.

Winter travel means packing your favorite boots, so save some space for them. While it may be tempting to pack a pair for each day, try to limit yourself to just one or two pairs, plus what you wear while traveling.

You might want to take a pair of classic Timberland Boots plus some Jordan SneakerbootsThe North Face Slip-on Booties are also soft and easy to pack.

Start Packing for Winter Travel

With this list of winter clothing essentials, you know exactly what you need to pack. If you’re missing any of these items, check out our selection of JD Sports winter essentials so you can enjoy your winter retreat to the max!

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