Winter may be the “off-season” for most travel destinations, but it’s actually a great time to travel—things are cheaper, there are fewer tourists and less humidity. Braving the cold is worth it whether you’re climbing mountaintops or exploring European cities, full of history museums, coffee shops and pubs to duck into when it gets chilly.
Here are my picks for essential for cold weather travel, tested and approved, that the globetrotter in your life would love to receive for the holidays.
Woolx Eva Long Sleeve Tunic and Nora Leggings
With so many synthetics on the market, wool has become an underrated fiber, but it has so much to offer when it comes to winter travel apparel. Woolx’s merino wool garments can act as base layers under other clothing or worn all on their own.
The stereotype about wool being itchy is not universally true, especially when it comes to merino wool. Merino is super soft and itch-free, lightweight and incredibly warm, while also remaining breathable. It naturally wicks moisture, allowing your body to stay dry, and does not absorb odors. Styles for both women and men are universal and classic, and finished with quality details.
Together, Woolx leggings with a tunic make a casual, comfortable outfit—a great choice for airplane travel days where temperature is unpredictable and comfort is key to a successful flight. But they also work well mixed and matched with other items. I find wool much cozier than sweats and more stylish as well.
The heavyweight Nora leggings are thick enough to wear alone and conform to your body like you’d expect leggings to do because wool is a naturally springy fiber. On a recent trip, I was most warm (but not too warm) and comfortable on the days I wore my Woolx pieces
Woolx also makes accessories that I can wholeheartedly recommend. The unisex gaiter made from the softest merino fabric saved my neck, literally, on some cold, windy days. It’s fitted, but not too tight, and can be pulled up over your nose and mouth if necessary. It can also be worn like a headband to keep your ears warm.
The Maddy hat is a blend of merino wool and acrylic and has a roomy, slouchy fit. The knitted pattern is classic for everyday use or on the slopes. Both the gaiter and the Maddy hat make great stocking stuffers this holiday season.
Aviator USA Travel Jeans – Comfort Skinny Fit
Expectations are high for a product dubbed “The Best Travel Jeans in the World,” and rightfully so. These jeans are soft and light, making them comfortable to wear and also easy to pack. The blend of cotton, rayon, polyester and spandex washes easily and dries quickly. Unlike so many other women’s jeans, these have deep front pockets, and a bonus zippered pocket in the back. The men’s jeans have the same performance features, including a zippered pocket for a passport. While ideal for travel, they can also be worn on everyday adventures.
I can attest to these jeans being excellent for travel. You can tell when you pick them up that the fabric is a bit lighter and drapier than typical jeans. I found that they fold up and roll up smaller than a comparable conventional pair of jeans, which is a plus when ever square inch counts in a suitcase.
They fit true to size and all of the colors available—black, dark indigo, silver grey—work with any outfit. The deep pockets deserve a second mention. I enjoyed the convenience of being able to stick my phone safely in a pocket it wouldn’t fall out of. Peace of mind.
Aviator jeans are made in Los Angeles, so you’re supporting a ‘Made in the USA’ company by buying them. The company was actually founded by former Macy’s art director Colby Kane as a Kickstarter project and over the past five years has remained a success.
Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi 2.0 Leather Boots
A comfortable walking shoe is essential for travel and boots are essential when the forecast might include snow or rain. Vivobarefoot’s Gobi high-top lace-up leather boots are ideal. They are stylish in a minimalistic way, made from the softest wild hide leather and high quality faux shearling. The removable thermal insoles insulate your feet to keep them warm in any climate.
I wore these boots on many long days full of walking in temperatures in the 20s, 30s and 40s and my feet never felt cold or fatigued. Read my full in-depth review of these boots at Viva Vivobarefoot! The Best Boots For Travel This Winter.
Torro Cases Hat Scarf and Glove Set
From the company that makes exceptional leather tech gear comes a sophisticated set of winter accessories ideal for gifting this holiday season. As established, wool is the fiber you want to surround yourself with when you’re on the go in cold temperatures. In sleek charcoal grey, the beanie, scarf and gloves work for both men and women.
The best feature, besides the Torro insignia on each item, is the touchscreen compatible fingertips on the gloves. Special conductive material is woven in seamlessly, ensuring you’ll never have to sacrifice warm fingers in order to use your smartphone. I love these gloves for everyday use. On particularly cold days, I pair them with silk glove liners, like these by Terramar. With liners, they are extra warm and the fingertips still work with touch screens.
The beanie can be worn two ways. With the cuff turned up, it fits more closely to the head with double the fabric around the ears. Alternatively, the hat can be worn slouchy, which is a great option if you have a lot of hair.
Thickly knitted fabric of the beanie and scarf keep the harsh winds out. The scarf is a good length and looks smart with any outerwear. This set is perfect for someone you don’t know very well because of its universal appeal.
Torrocases is better known for its phone cases for all major phone models, including Apple, Samsung, HTC, Huawei and Google Pixel. The gorgeous leather cases make good gifts for the techie with discerning taste.
Lander Moab Case For iPhone 7/8 and 6/6s
The Moab case by Lander might just be the best phone case for the modern explorer. The slim stylish case is a tight fit on several iPhone models, offering impact protection and crush resistance. It has a detachable wrist lanyard which is invaluable when you’re on the move. Perhaps its most unique feature is the layer embedded with Thermoline technology which insulates your phone in harsh temperatures as low as 0 degrees F and regulates temps as high as 120 degrees F.
Lander Cascade Power Bank
With the rise of the smartphone over the past decade, it has become clear that battery life is everything. Instead of fretting about where you’ll find the next outlet while you should be enjoying yourself, carry around the Cascade power bank. Its sleek design is not cumbersome, the reflective lanyard is easy to locate in the dark and the auto-off energy saving mode will also save your sanity.
The largest model, at 7800 mAh, it can recharge a phone around seven times, instantly making you the most popular one in your group. However, smaller models are available at 2600 mAh and 5200 mAh. They all seem more compact than other portable chargers on the market to me, and have a more durable design.
Sea to Summit DryLite towel
Sea to Summit describes this as the ‘perfect hostel travel towel.’ Towels are sometimes hard to come by while traveling, so it’s best to bring your own. DryLite towels are made of soft suede-like microfiber and quick-drying, and better yet, so light and compact they hardly take up any space in your luggage. Sizes range from a small hand towel to a large beach towel to suit every need—even interstellar hitchhikers would find these towels massively useful.
The smallest size works well as an oversized washcloth and the texture feels really nice on your face. Microfiber is an unexpectedly efficient material for a towel. It’s more absorbent than I would have guessed, but never gets soggy like a terrycloth towel. The XL size provides a nice amount of coverage.
Each towel comes in its own mesh case that closes with Velcro. It’s easy to use the towel and fold it back up to fit inside the case. The best feature, however, is the loop on one corner that opens and closes with a snap, so you can hang it anywhere.
Rab Silk Traveller Sleeping Bag Liner
The UK brand synonymous with adventuring makes silk sleeping bag liners to add a layer of warmth and comfort to your nights while camping. The Traveller model features a fold back pillow slip, is easy to wash and comes with its own stuff sack. Silk is naturally insulating in cold weather and breathable in warm weather and adds a bit of luxury when you’re roughing it. Rab’s silk sleeping bag liner is great to have around for those backpacking through Europe and staying in hostels where beds may or may not contain sheets.