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Packing list for Canada in Winter: Like most things in Canada, the weather widely varies depending on which part of the country you are in. Canada has four distinct season, with temperatures being milder towards the west and cooler in the north.
In a nutshell, if visiting Canada during the winter you will need to pack for cool or freezing windy weather. Moreover, if your Canadian destination is mountainous, don’t leave without your thermals as it is likely to be very cold.
Read on to find out what to pack for your next winter vacation in Canada.
When to visit Canada: Weather and seasons
Spring in Canada (March, April and May): Spring arrives in patches across Canada with temperatures increasing around April, although the ski season lasts into late April. Temperatures rise gradually from 1 to 17C / 33 to 67F degrees, which may still be a bit chilly.
As the snow melts, the landscape begins to turn green, providing the perfect conditions for flowers to blossom in abundance. Locals toss off their jackets and may be seen in T-shirts, but you can bring along something warmer.
Summer in Canada (June, July and August): During summer in Canada, the snow melts, days are longer and temperatures rise, especially in the mid-west and central provinces. In the summer time across the country, temperatures range between 5-27 C / 41-81 F, although nighttime temperatures can remain pretty cool.
A waterproof coat and an umbrella will come in handy if visiting Canada during the summer season.Summer is great to go hiking and camping in the Canadian Rockies or mountain biking in the resort areas.
Fall in Canada (September, October and November): Fall is a great time for visiting Canada as you can still enjoy many of the fun outdoor activities. Be sure to pack your hiking boots as well as a day backpack, in addition to some light layers.
In the fall season, temperatures decrease to about -3 to 14C / 26 to 52F degrees, although the climate remains comfortable. Don’t miss out on seeing the deciduous trees change color, as well as enjoy the Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween holidays.
Winter in Canada (December, January and February): During winter, Canada is transformed into a snow-covered wonderland. Towards the mid-season, most of the country is freezing cold, except for the British Columbia coastline which sees little snow.
The Canadian Rockies has a long winter with a lot of snow settling on the higher altitudes. Montreal and Toronto experience short but sharp winters with temperatures plummeting to -20C / -4F. The highest temperatures are often only 5C / 41F, so don’t forget to pack your winter’s warmest.
What to Wear in Canada in Winter
How to dress for winter in Canada
- 1-2x warm boots: Depending on how much suitcase room you have take 1-2 pairs of boots ideal for colder climates. Wear one pair on flights to save space and luggage weight. If you plan on doing hiking, make sure one of these are hiking boots.
- 4-5 x socks
- 6-10 pairs of underwear
- 3-5 bras
- 2 x pairs of gloves: Canada gets freezing in winter, especially if visiting the mountainous regions so don’t let the heat escape through your fingers. Pack two that you can wear at the same time if going to colder parts of Canada.
- 2-3 x Woolen hat / beanie
- Cardigan or pullovers x 2-3: The further north you’ll visiting, the warmer they’ll need to be.
- 1-2 x warm coats: If tight on space or luggage weight, wear one of these on flights. If you have the space pack two, but you’ll do just fine with one. Consider having one of these the puffer style or atleast very insulated. If visiting the north you’ll want both of these to be insulated.
- Tops x 4-7: Longer sleeves will keep you warm. If you’re tight on space / weight you can easily get by with only four tops.
- Bottoms x 2-5: You’ll want long pants to keep yourself warm.
- Long johns x 1-2: If you’re susceptible to cold weather consider packing long johns to wear underneath your pants as well.
- 1-2x Scarf
What to Pack for Canada in Winter: Other Items
- Pain killers – You may need them for a headache or a stomach ache.
- Anti-acid medicine
- First aid kit
- Prescribed medication – Don’t forget to carry your prescription in case you need a refill or are asked about it at the airport.
Makeup and Toiletries
- Toothbrush & toothpaste (travel-sized tube)
- Regular makeup kit and travel sized makeup bag
- Tissues (travel sized)
- Shower Gel
- Solid shampoo or travel-sized shampoo and conditioner
- Phone and charger
- Digital camera and lens – I use the Sony a6500 and 19mm f2.8 lens
- 2 or 3 8GB Memory cards– This will come in handy in case one memory card fails or gets lost
- Universal charger/ adapter – like this one
- Batteries and camera charger
- Portable battery (see this one) to charge your phone or camera
- Suitcase: It is convenient as it’s easy to find things, something like this would do well.
- Backpack: Equally suitable for traveling in Canada, especially if you are not carrying a lot of things. The Osprey 55 litre is light, comfy, front loading and perfectly fits inside the plane’s overhead bin.
- Belt/ Neck Wallet: A safe place to store personal documents such as your passport, credit cards, or ID card as well as cash.
- Two bank cards – Carry a MasterCard and Visa since not all Canadian banks will accept your regular card
- Photocopies – Make several photocopies of your passport to avoid getting stranded without one, should the original get lost or stolen. Leave one copy with someone back home
- Luggage lock –This will ensure that your luggage remains safe at all times.
You Probably Need Travel Insurance
The most important piece of advice I can give you about traveling to Canada is to buy good travel insurance. A comprehensive travel insurance package will protect you from illness, theft, injury and cancellations, should anything go wrong.
I never go overseas without travel insurance and it has come in handy many times in the past.World Nomads is my go-to insurer for travel insurance which I like using for their straightforward claiming. For more details and to check for prices, you can visit their website.
Packing List for Canada: Safety and health
Being a first-world country, you shouldn’t have a problem purchasing medication or consulting a doctor in Canada. Canada is a safe place to travel, even as a female traveling solo. Just be sure to keep an eye on your valuables at all times, in particular while using public transportation. Always trust your instincts when you encounter a bad situation. If you wouldn’t do it at home – don’t do it while in Canada. Follow this rule and you should be fine.
If you’ve read this entire article you have all the information you need to prepare yourself for a Canadian winter. As long as you focus on staying warm and happy during your vacation in wintry Canada, you’ll be just fine. With the right packing preparation, there’s nothing to fear and you can enjoy a truly fun Canadian winter.