Many people avoid winter travel because they find it hard to pack light for winter. I used to be the same. I thought I would have to bring the thickest jacket I have at home and layer myself with woolen jumpers and funny looking ear muffs. It turns out to pack light for winter is actually easier than you think, just need to follow the following rule of thumb then you will be fine!
Base layers are layers that are close to your skin and can remove any sweat you produced. It is one of the most essential element to pack light for winter. The two main base-layer materials are “synthetics/ polyester” or “merino
For base-layer bottom, I choose a pair of polyester material and a pair of 100% wool material for York. As we are travelling to Antarctica it is essential to have these bottom-base layer to keep warm. The polyester material may not be as warm as 100% wool, but it will be a good alternative for sleeping in.
The primary purpose of a mid layer is insulation, it suppose to trap as much body heat as possible. It is acceptable to wear more than one mid layer to keep yourself warm. Since we will be going to Antarctica, we packed two types of mid layer- a fleece and a down jacket.
Fleece is made of synthetic fibers which are quick dry and retains some insulation even when wet as the material repels small amount of water. The thicker the fleece the more wind-resistant they are, however the thicker the fleece the size and weight increases too so you have to compromise. Fleece is the cheapest mid-layer and I love its versatility when dressing casual!
A packable down jacket is essential for travelling light in winter as they are very warm and light-weight. “Down” is a type of fine feather which has strong insulating properties. A good down jacket can be quite expensive.There are 3 different ways to assess the quality of a down jacket:
The Down Jacket we got for York is from New Zealand’ leading outdoor brand Macpac- Uber Light Down Jacket Mens which has fill power of 650. But if you really want to choose the most value for money down jacket, Uniqlo Down Jackets are the way to go! It’s 90% down and 10% feather with a fill power of more than 640 and usually under USD$100. However if you are looking for a good down Jacket, Berghaus Men’s Ilam Down Jacket
One of the disadvantages of down jacket is that once it gets wet, it looses its insulation ability and that is why it is important to wear a waterproof layer over them.
The third layer to keep yourself warm in cold weather is the outer layer. Outer layer needs to be windproof or waterproof to keep your inner layers dry, especially if you are wearing a down jacket.
Waterproof Jackets & Pants
To complete the third layer for pack light in winter, one must have a waterproof layer! There are many different types of waterproof jackets. It is important to look at waterproof ratings (mm) and breath-ability when purchasing. Can read more on “Waterproof Ratings and Breathability Guide” which I found to be very useful. Often the breath-ability of a jacket decreases as waterproof rating increases, it is important to get a garment that is well balanced.
|Waterproof Rating (mm)||Resistance provided||What it can withstand|
|0-5,000 mm||No resistance to some resistance to moisture||Light rain, dry snow, no pressure|
|6,000-10,000 mm||Rainproof and waterproof under light pressure||Light rain, average snow, light pressure|
|11,000-15,000 mm||Rainproof and waterproof except under high pressure||Moderate rain, average snow, light pressure|
|16,000-20,000 mm||Rainproof and waterproof under high pressure||Heavy rain, wet snow, some pressure|
|20,000 mm+||Rainproof and waterproof under very high pressure||Heavy rain, wet snow, high pressure|
Personally I would get a garment that has GORE-TEX®
We particularly like Marmot’s Precip Range, such as Marmot Men’s Precip Jacket
York’s sister told us we must have a good pair of waterproof pants when visiting Antarctica. As they will keep your bottom half dry and trap body heat. It is advisable to have at least 5000 mm waterproof rating on those pants. Again I really like Marmot Men’s Precip Pant
Read more on: Winter Vacation Pack List @ Hokkaido, Japan for a girly pack list I figured out few years ago (It was definitely not a pack light for winter list).