Planning for a vacation in places with low temperatures? Worried about all what you need to buy and the heavy costs involved into getting the necessary stuff then read on. You don't need to spend tons of money for such vacations. You can easily get the necessary stuff & roam around nicely in -15° C too.
I am putting the below info from my personal experiences of what I have learned and wore them in 0° C - 5° C temperatures in Europe to Svalbard (Norway) at Minus 3° C to Murmansk (Russia) at minus15° C.
Let me explain...
Something about cold weather
You will always find weather apps show temperature at a particular location and then they also show feels like temperature. So what does that mean?
The temperature at a particular place is what the environmental instruments show but many other factors come into picture on how this temperature feels like on a human body/skin. Factors that affect these are wind speeds, humidity etc.
So how do we get ready for such temperatures?
Check whats your trip gonna be. Will you be in the city among the buildings walking around or you're in the open ground/jungles. Because if you're in the city among the buildings etc wind effect will gonna be lesser that what you will face in the open.
For example while I was all good with -15° C while I was roaming around in Murmansk City but the same -15° C on our night trip in the forests to hunt the Northern Lights felt unbearable because of the strong winds.
Then comes the rains. Do check if there's prediction for rains while you're there. This will help you choose a warm + waterproof jacket & carry rain covers for your bags.
So now that you know the basics of weather reading let's get to learn few things about your body.
(a) Know your body + its comfort levels
Not everyone has the same tolerance to cold. Each one is different. You know your body well. Supposedly you planning to visit a place which will have a minimum temperature of -5° C while you're there you need to prepare based on your tolerance levels.
Your body cannot stand cold weather - Get clothes for -10° C
Your body is somewhat ok with cold weather - Get clothes for -5° C
I am Superman & I don't feel cold - Get clothes for -5° C and if still needed don't add inside layers
(b) What kind of traveller you're? - IMPORTANT
Knowing the kind of traveller you're will basically help you with the comfort levels while you're in the cold.
Even in -10° C the body keeps getting warm if you're walking / running or continuously doing some activity & if you're wearing warm clothes meant for such temperatures you will start to sweat. Trust me you will sweat badly.
So getting warm clothes based on the type of activity makes a lot of sense. We won't go in the extremes but will categorize the two basic types
Type 1: I will be standing in the cold weather mostly doing nothing but just watching around. Walking till my attractions etc. Sitting in the snow. Getting in & out of my bus and that's all
Type 2: I will be walking around the place for 5+ kms at regular intervals (That's me)
Categorize yourself & remember these types. Will need as we read ahead.
You must be like enough of Gyaan (Knowledge) tell me what to buy thats all. So let's get started.
Note: I always shop from Dechatlon as I find their products really good + cheap + they have 90 days return policy + 2 years warranty (on most products). I am not paid any commission to recommend them nor the link below are affiliate links
Leave the cotton clothes behind or wear them when indoors on your trip. They hold sweat when worn with jackets + when you wash them on your trips they take like years to dry.
Get your polyester tees out
This will be your inner most layer of clothing which will stick to you skin and help keep your body warm + also allow it to breathe. Always choose a long sleeve layer. Helps regulate the body temperature.
Make friendship with Fleeces. Really cheap & they do a wonderful job to keep you warm
If you're Type 1 (Reference to above paragraph)
Price: Rs. 299
If you're Type 2 (Reference to above paragraph)
So these are basically fleece tops which are worn when you're skiing means you're into physical activity while in the cold weather and your body needs to breathe + the sweat needs to evaporate. These tops will be a little less resistance to cold so only buy them if you plan to be always active while in the outdoor or else stick to normal ones.
If you have some budget to spend and you would be spending long hours wearing them + want super comfort + less weight in you baggage + be really warm get in merino wool for you inners. One time investment but they're really good. Also they keep you much warm than the fleece.
I went with the fleece ones & it always worked perfectly for me. Try them and you'll know the difference.
You can now add one more fleece layer based on the temperature you're going. So basically it will become 2 layers & a jacket on top.
Add a fleece or woollen on top of your base layer. Remember no cottons again. Your body needs to breathe.
Choose from the multiple options available from here. Remember to try and buy as sometimes you may need a size bigger for comfort. You wont need a bigger size as the base layer is thin but try it out.
You can choose to wear a woollen sweater or something you already have or get one from the above link.
Women : https://www.decathlon.in/p/8510201/thermal-and-warm-inners/women-s-mountain-trekking-merino-tights-undergarment-trek-500-black?id=8510201&type=p
You can wear jeans or any clothing on top of the bottom inners. I always wear jeans as its warm + does the job well during my trips.
You do get specialized clothing such as waterproof pants or snow pants which keep you warm + are waterproof etc in case you need any of those based on your activity. You can also get a waterproof track pants which can be worn on top of you jeans to keep you from getting wet.
So now that we're done with the inners let's jump on to the jackets to be worn. As said before you need to check two things temperature + rains while you're there so that you can buy a jacket accordingly. Also it depends on what activity you're gonna do at the location.
There are two types of jackets which I see for cold weathers. There must be many different ones but I just know about these two.
Normal Jackets based on temperatures
Normal Jackets + waterproof/water repellant
Padded jackets based on temperatures
Padded jackets + waterproof/water repellant
Each extra feature will be an additional cost + the more minus temperatures it helps you survive
So decide which one you gonna go for and then drill down which to pick.
Padded jackets over Normal Jackets.
With additional features they get costlier for the form factor
So how do you choose one + should you buy a waterproof one or a normal one. Let's decide
If you're a backpacker + space & weight is your concern get a padded one or else get a normal one
Do you often go to places which are cold + rain regularly then get a water proof one than just buy a normal one
There's no need to invest in a waterproof jacket if you don't travel or there's just 1-2 days of rains on your trip. You can get this waterproof raincoat which weights just 175 grams + super compact. I keep this always in my bag. Wear it on top of your padded jacket when it rains and ur good. Buy one size bigger.
Padded jackets normally are water repellent as they need to be considering you will wear them when its snowing so for few mins of drizzles you're covered. Remember to dry them as you get indoors.
Always get a jacket with an attached hood. Trust me you will thank me when in the cold. Surely you can wear a woollen cap for your ears etc but a hoodie attached helps a lot in snow & rains + also helps keep your nose warm
Always check for pockets in you jacket. You will need to keep you devices warm & your hands too
Get a jacket which has an elastic tightening system near your waist. Helps from cold air from getting inside
Same goes for elastic or some system to tightening the sleeves. Cold air getting in from there will surely affect you.
In the padded jackets make sure you pull the zippers of the pockets etc before closing it as the jacket lining seems to get stuck in the zipper due to its form factor. It's a pain to free it then so take care.
You will see some super stylish Ski Jackets. Trust me those are super stylish with zipper in hands and one neat the chest and all that. You'll fall in love with them. But they're made for when you're super active in the cold weather and not stationery. You can get them but make sure you minus 5° C to whatever temperature they're good in as you are not gonna be skiing or running around.
Water repellent is not same as Waterproof and also waterproof doesn't mean you can sit in the rains without getting wet. Check for how long can your jacket survive the rains.
Jackets come with tolerance levels as standalone or with layering up. So a -5° C jacket can come as standalone or -5° C levels with layers which can be also worn in -10° C with an additional layer.
Hope now you're much clear on what jacket you would need for your next trip
Mens Jackets: https://www.decathlon.in/men-s-tops/men-s-winter-jackets-17713?id=17713&type=c
Womens Jacket: https://www.decathlon.in/women-s-tops/women-s-winter-jackets-17707?id=17707&type=c
Now based on you requirement get the perfect jacket for you trip. Also do consider long term when buying a jacket. This will be your investment for years to come. If you don't need a -10° C jacket for this trip but you do plan to do trips in future get one which help you survive in a lesser temperatures. You can adjust the temperatures with layers but a better jacket will be useful for future trips too.
Same goes with water proofing. If you really will be doing some trips cold + rains weather invest in one or else don't waste money on them.
For me it was clear I want compact form factor + only few days of rains were on forecast where I was visiting then I went ahead with padded water repellent jacket + carried a rain coat with me.
Did you know? - It's gets a little warmer when it starts to snow and not colder
Shoes matter a lot in different climates + the type of weather you're going into + what type of traveller you're + your feet need to remain warm always
(i) Normal weather
You regular shoes are good enough. Make sure you have worn them couple of times earlier and they're comfortable
If you're going to be out roaming too much in the rains I suggest to get a water proof shoes. Saves you the hassle of unnecessary getting your feet wet + waiting for the shoes to dry off before wearing them again.
For some countries which have a superb subway / Metro network you can easily roam without getting wet even in the rains
We have very limited options in budget here in India when it comes to only waterproof shoes. You do get water repellent but adding a few 1000s you can get fully water proof.
Did you know? You can make any of your sports shoes water repellent by spraying it with water repellent spray.Yes it works for drizzles etc.
Dechatlon has waterproof shoes which are good for 3 hrs in the rains. Only con is they're a bit heavy as they're basically for hiking
Men : https://www.decathlon.in/p/8503796/hiking-shoes/mens-hiking-shoes-waterproof-mh100-grey?id=8503796&type=p
Columbia Shoes have few models which are water proof. Get them off during sales on Columbia website or from Ajio at >50% off
They have a product range called "OutDry" and the shoes are really really good + waterproof
Rs. 6999 - https://columbiasportswear.co.in/columbia-mens-peakfreak-xcrsn-ii-xcel-hiking-shoes-bm1762-013.html
Rs. 4200 - 4500 - Newer model to the upper one. Available on Ajio https://www.ajio.com/columbia-peakfreak-x2-outdry-lace-up-shoes/p/460757364_grey
You can wear these shoes in minus temperatures also with proper woollen socks. Makes sure you're no snow / water should get in your shoes and you're good to go. These are normal shoes. You do get ankle length too which are a bit higher and you can walk in a bit deeper snow.
Columbia do have leather based water proof shoes too. They're also good but when wet they do tend to take time to dry out. So I did not buy them and stuck to the fabric ones and glad I did it.
(iii) Cold weather + Snow
Cold weather + rains is a very bad combo. Your feet get cold really fast. So would always suggest getting a waterproof shoes. Almost all snow shoes are waterproof.