Small Travel Accessories That Make a Big Difference in the Cold

Packing ultralight? You don't need a bag full of sweaters to stay warm!

Traveling light during the colder season? Your bag doesn’t have to be entirely composed of sweaters. (Been there, done that!) Rather that carry that extra weight around, there are a few small items you can bring along to hack your way to keeping warm with less.

I’m talking about those small accessories that make a big difference in keeping you warm.



We are probably all familiar with this one. Keep your noggin warmer by bringing along your favorite cold weather hat. Make sure it covers your ears! I prefer merino wool, as it’s soft, warm, regulates temperature well, and breathes.

If you’re venturing to the wilds where wind is going to be your biggest problem, consider a hat with a wind-blocking layer. I have had a hat with this for years, and in addition to being really soft, no wind gets through that thing at all. One caveat: wind-blocking technology is so good at blocking wind that it also blocks sounds a bit. It’s a bit odd at first, but can also play double duty as a noise-decreasing hat for loud situations like being on a plane.

A note on style: make sure to pick a hat that matches your jacket. For more versatility, look for one that can be reversed. For even more versatility, look for one that has a reflective layer to keep you safe at night!




There are many options here, and what you pick to keep your neck warm has more to do with style and room it takes in your bag than anything else.

For example: blanket scarves are big, look amazing, and can be used to keep more of your body warm than just your neck. They can also be used as a blanket for sleeping on the plane or at the airport. They are, however, quite large, and will take up room in your bag. This can be remedied by always wearing the scarf on travel days. Let’s hope they are cold days!

For a more minimalist approach (and the one I prefer), bring along a wool neck gaiter/ buff. If you’re not familiar with these, it’s basically a tube of fabric that you slip over your head and around your neck. Since it’s a tube, it can also be used as a headband to keep just your ears warm. This is great for cardio sports (running, cross country skiing) outside when it’s cold – it allows your head to dissipate heat while not allowing your ears to freeze. Another reason to love buffs as a scarf is that they can be used to keep your face warm when doing things like skiing – just pull the front up over your nose. Instant bandit!



Bring long sleeved shirts and wool or waterproof gloves.


Ankles and feet

Merino wool socks will keep you toasty and keep your feet dry. You can get away with wearing them multiple times before they will get smelly, because merino wool is antibacterial and antimicrobial!



To keep your core (torso) warm, bring along merino wool base layers. Sure, they are expensive, but they make a huge difference. They are thin enough to layer under regular clothing, which means you can easily (and sneakily) layer your tops or bottoms. The bottoms cam also be used as leggings. I wear my Icebreaker Oasis leggings nearly every day in the winter. If you bring regular leggings, don’t forget that you can wear these under pants too!

If you want an outer layer for your core, consider a down vest.


Puffy Jacket

Down packs very small and weighs nearly nothing. While it’s usually expensive, it doesn’t have to be – UNIQLO has some ultralight layers that don’t break the bank. Many down coats can be packed into their own pockets, turning them into a small pillow that you can use on the plane!



Leather is surprisingly warm. Look for versatile boots that can be used with multiple outfits, so you can wear them rather than have them take up room in your bag. I love my Sorel Scotia boots! The style I have isn’t offered any more, but there are tons of others to choose from that are super warm and stylish!

Stay toasty!



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