Packing for cold weather is a highly scientific art form. You need winter clothes that are breathable, moisture-wicking, and warming—but also lightweight and highly packable.
Warm Winter Clothes That Pack Thin
Here are essential foundation pieces for your winter travel wardrobe—they’re warm, sleek, and easy to pack.
The North Face’s Thermoball
Finding a jacket that is warm but doesn’t take over your entire suitcase is tough, but The North Face’s Thermoball fits the bill. This jacket uses synthetic insulation that’s much thinner and lighter than down, but still just as warm—plus it works in cold and wet conditions. Not wearing the jacket? Just pack it neatly into its zipper pocket.
Duofold’s Thermal Clothing
Champion’s Duofold clothing line is an inexpensive, high-performing collection for men and women. Its fabric is designed to trap your body heat while wicking away moisture, creating a thermal layer between the clothes and your skin to keep you warm without adding bulk. Duofold can outfit you from top to bottom, with shirts and long johns.
Clever Travel Companion’s Leggings
Leggings are the perfect layer under your winter clothes, and these, by Clever Travel Companion, have two hidden pockets that are large enough to hold your passport, phone, or cash. The pockets are zippered for security, so you can feel confident that your stash will be safe.
Heat Holders’ Thermal Socks
Warm socks are key to winter comfort, but if you try to wear bulky ski socks with your regular boots, you’re basically asking for blisters. Heat Holders’ Thermal Socks claim to be “seven times warmer than a basic cotton sock” but aren’t stiff or too thick. They look like regular socks on the outside but have a plush lining to help you stay warm.
Berkshire’s Fleece-Lined Tights
One way to keep warm on a frigid day is by wearing fleece-lined tights, like Berkshire’s Cozy Tights, under your winter clothes. They look like normal black tights but have a nice, cozy fleece lining, which makes them feel like pajamas. And they’re way warmer than jeans, especially when paired with tall boots.
Terramar’s Thermalsilk Line
Though silk doesn’t sound super warm, it can be, especially when it’s combined with thermal fabric, as it is in Terramar’s Thermalsilk line. This engineered fabric is designed to adjust to your body temperature and lock in warmth, while preventing odors and offering four-way stretch comfort. Plus, it’s incredibly lightweight and thin for the level of warmth it provides.
ColdPruf’s Base Layers
ColdPruf is a great line for warmth on a budget. The company makes reasonably priced shirts, leggings, and long johns that perform just as well as some of the high-end brands, thanks to a unique blend of polyester and merino wool. Its Thermachoice Rating System lets you know exactly what type of weather and activity each piece is designed for.
Under Armour’s ColdGear Gloves
Keep your hands warm but nimble with a thin glove that lets you easily grasp things with your fingers, like Under Armour’s ColdGear Gloves. The special ColdGear Infrared fabric has a thermos-conductive inner coating to prevent body heat loss. The back of the gloves is padded to keep you even warmer without losing functionality.
Arcteryx’s Atom LT Hoody
Arcteryx’s Atom LT Hoody is one of the warmest packable jackets out there, thanks to its Coreloft insulation. It’s a lightweight outer layer that’s great for outdoor activities like hiking or snowshoeing. Best of all, it has a sleek look rather than the “puffy” design of most other packable parkas.
Smartwool’s Merino Wool Line
If you’re looking for an all-around great base layer to throw on under your winter clothes, you can’t go wrong with Smartwool’s entire line. This is wool redesigned—Smartwool lost the itch and heaviness of traditional sheep’s wool and replaced it with stretch, moisture-wicking power, and wind resistance, thanks to its nylon facing.
More from SmarterTravel:
- The 9 Best Ski Gear Items for This Winter
- How to Avoid the Worst Cold-Weather Packing Mistakes
- How to Pack for a Winter Vacation
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.