So you’re planning for your ultimate winter vacation, but your trip is fast-approaching and you still don’t know what to pack for Banff in January. With the first month of the year being the coldest at an average of -15°C (sometimes colder), it can definitely be a little intimidating not knowing what to expect. And I know, I know… By the time I publish this post, it is no longer January. HOWEVER, I did just come back from my January trip there. Rest assured I have all the secret weapons and complete Banff packing list to help you stay warm whether you are visiting in January or during the other winter months.
1. Invest in a heavy duty wool coat.
Just because you’re up in the mountains and deep within the woods don’t mean you can’t stay cute and chic in a winter wool coat!
I personally love Aritzia a little too much although can still never commit to purchasing a $300+ single piece of garment. This winter, I finally treated myself to a gorgeous brown one by Babaton. Sadly it is currently sold out. Nonetheless, they do have a winter sale on their site and below are some similar alternatives:
- Babaton Steman Coat (mid-length, wool-cashmere blend)
- Babaton Slouch Wool Coat (oversized, double-breasted)
- Wilfred Cocoon Coat (virgin-wool and cashmere)
2. Get your hands on a classic green parka.
Parkas are no doubt on majority of people’s winter clothing list. As someone from Canada, I am well familiar with brands like Canada Goose or Mackage. Even though I don’t condemn those who purchase their products, I personally try to refrain from buying fox fur, rabbit fur, or real fur of any kind that typically result in animal cruelty. That being said, I got mine from the men’s clearance section at Bluenotes several years back for around $15. It’s obviously not available anymore. Regardless, there’s no need to drop a grand on a jacket because brands like The North Face have some fantastic options between $100-$300.
3. Unleash your inner Elsa and slay as Snow Queen in a (faux) fur coat.
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🚨 Caution: Blue Bigfoot spotted at Lake Louise, Alberta❗️ ➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳ Come find out on the blog where I got this super chic blue (faux) fur coat and how you too can stay stylishly warm for winter in Banff – or well, winter anywhere! #explorealberta @travelalberta #mybanff #sponsored ➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳➳ PC: @dreamingandwandering
Or well, in my case, slay as Blue Bigfoot? XDD
I’ve never been one to rock faux fur coats so boy was I surprised at how great they work in the cold. When wearing mine, it felt as warm as wearing my Aritzia brown coat + a cardigan underneath. Now that’s warm!
Blue fur coat from Forever 21 available here.
Other alternatives if blue or fur’s not yo thang:
- ASOS Reclaimed Vintage Inspired Fluffy Faux Fur Coat
- UO Cropped Teddy Jacket
- UO Scout Sherpa Zip-Front Cropped Jacket
4. Hit the slopes in style with Lulus.
The above 3 suggestions are more or less for every day walking around/chill Banff activities. If you’re looking to be a little more active and go skiing or snowboarding, be sure to prepare a waterproof jacket in your suitcase.
Now Lulus is hands down one of my favorite places to shop at. Despite the fact that I live in Canada and always have to pay a hefty charge on customs, I’ve been a returning customer since 2013 way before they even started trending on Instagram.
White jacket from Lulus available here.
I purchased my white jacket from them and I gotta be honest, I did leave a negative review on their site for receiving a defected item. (My jacket was missing a button and the sleeves were dirty.) Now thinking back, I may have been a bit harsh considering this was the only one time they made a tiny mistake. Plus, they did compensate me fairly afterwards. All in all, I do still recommend shopping with them and gosh this jacket is seriously so soft and warm! The inside is lined with faux fur and it hugs you in all the right places. Definitely a super flattering fit and will get you noticed on the slopes!
5. Stay Warm in Uniqlo’s Heattech Innerwear.
Enough talk about outerwear, here’s your real secret weapon for what to pack for Banff: Uniqlo Heattech Innerwear.
Heattech is Uniqlo’s special trademark technology that supposedly uses hollow fibre threads to trap pockets of warm air, which in turn insulates your body like wool does. (I don’t know what any of that means, but #science.) Except of course these innerwear clothing pieces are much thinner and basically like any other ordinary long johns if you will.
For those unfamiliar with Uniqlo, it is a Japanese casual wear brand. They have a lot of basic/minimalistic pieces and I found out about their Heattech technology during my Tokyo trip back in 2016. It was the first time Tokyo had snowed in about 40 years so ya bet I was unprepared and totally freezing my butt off. I tried their original Heattech long-sleeves t-shirt although that didn’t really work for me. I thought I’d give them a second chance by going with the extra warm long-sleeves t-shirt this time and what a lifesaver! Just skip the regular ones and go straight to the extra warm. You’ll thank me later 😉
Apart from crew necks, they also have turtleneck options in addition to a range of other Heattech items such as leggings and socks. Browse their full list of winter wear for ladies here.
6. Accessorize with beanies, ear muffs, scarves, and mittens.
I love my scarves. Anyone who knows me knows that I never leave home without one during fall/winter. Funny enough, I decided not to bring any this trip because I packed turtlenecks with me and just didn’t see a need for it.
While scarves are optional, I would highly recommend bringing a beanie/toque or hat of some sort to keep your head and ears warm. Ear muffs are even better if you have them. (I forgot mine and at times found that a beanie alone wan’t quite enough.) Mittens/gloves are a must as well. For my photographers out there, I suggest buying a pair of touchscreen gloves. There were so many times I thought my fingers were gonna freeze and fall off. Not to mention they got hella dry and started cracking and yuckkk! Just invest in some touchscreen gloves okay? Okay.
7. Pack merino wool socks.
Another thing you can’t forget for your Banff outfits is merino wool socks.
Women’s Popcorn Cable Knee High Socks from Smartwool. (Link below.)
For my trip, I’d only brought cotton socks and one pair of knee-length wool socks. While you normally don’t think much of socks or even pay attention to what kind you buy, they make a huge difference in keeping you warm especially during winter. Cotton socks and regular wool socks can get wet quite easily whether it is from your shoes not being waterproof or your feet sweating from walking. They’re also harder to dry. When socks become wet, your feet turn cold and of course, your body then starts losing heat.
Merino wool socks are awesome because even if they do get wet, they still keep your feet warm. A lot of hikers prefer merino wool socks to regular socks and they’re really just a great staple regardless of the weather. Oh and did I mention they keep your feet from smelling!? Its wool fibers absorb odor-causing bacteria meaning you can literally wear the same pair for days without needing to wash it. I mean, I’m not recommending you to wear the same socks for dayz but heck I ain’t judging!
Smartwool has some cute designs below:
Shout out to Martina Gebarovska from Dreaming and Wandering for sharing this hack with me!
8. Keep dry in Sorel winter boots.
While we’re on the topic of feet (not that I have foot fetish or anything lol), let’s talk shoes!
Those who have read my Iceland guide know that I was in Iceland for a week last September. I must confess, I have a problem with shoes. Buying shoes specifically. For my Iceland trip, I thought you know, I have so many boots. One of them ought to work because I need to work on my self-control and not buy any more shoes. Long and behold, those boots were absolutely uncomfortable for hiking. Not to mention they weren’t even waterproof! Moral of the story? Keep buying shoes to your heart’s content! LOL! Jay kayyyyy, but seriously, you need winter-appropriate shoes for Banff.
Women’s Tivoli™ III Boot from Sorel available here.
I bought mine from Sorel on sale at Sport Check and am super happy with them. I opted for black instead of the popular tan color to better match my Banff winter outfits. (Ahem, more like to better match the color of my soul.) They have plenty of other styles too and if I would change anything, I would maybe choose a long boot instead. That way it’s easier to stay dry if you’re walking in deep snow.
9. Make hand warmers your best friend.
Bought these while I was in Japan. Similar ones can be found on Amazon here.
In my “Best Time to See Northern Lights in Iceland” post, I mentioned these bad boys. When packing for winter, you 100% need to get yourself some of these iron powder hand warmers.
These come in small portable sizes and you can keep them underneath your clothes or just rub one in between your hands to keep warm. The only downside is they don’t last too long and are not reusable. I’m not entirely sure how environmentally friendly they are, but I guess desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures? (I’ll be on the lookout for eco-friendly alternatives and let you guys know!)
10. Layer, layer, layer, layer, layer!
Cream cardigan is sold out at Forever21, but they still have a charcoal version here.
My last tip for packing for Banff in January is to simply layer. I typically love layering with plaid shirts and a basic white hoodie, but they just don’t cut it for winter. This is why cardigans are perfect. For the most part of my trip, I wore Uniqlo Heattech inside, a turtleneck outside and layered my cardigan on top paired with a coat of some sort.
A little unclear, but you can see a brown cardigan peeping through. The design is the same as my Aritzia brown mittens and a similar alternative can be found here.
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And there you have it! A stylish guide to packing for Banff in January.
My top 10 secret tips to stay stylishly warm when packing for Banff during winter. Complete Banff packing list coming soon. Sign up for newsletter subscriptions and stay tuned!
Don’t forget to check out my Banff vlog and I’ll see you guys in my next post~