Have a look outside. Do you see snow? I do. In some parts of Canada like Alberta we’ve skipped a season and arrived in winter. It looks and feels like late November which can mean only one thing. It’s time to get serious about prepping for winter.

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

Our 40 cm dump of snow in early October

When it comes to clothes and footwear these 15 must-have items will keep you warm and stylish. They won’t change the season but at least if you go outside you’ll be ready to face the elements.

I recommend going through what fall and winter clothes you already have. See what you think is missing or needs updating. Some of the pieces I suggest will last you for quite literally a decade. Good warm clothes are an investment – and one that will give you pleasure over the years to come. As a pretty casual person I still want brands that are cutting edge, stylish and deliver performance, especially when weather conditions head south. And I don’t want to be wearing yesterday’s colours.

Prepping for winter when it’s not too cold 

Include a version of the following.

  • Wicking, non-cotton underwear
  • Tights – try the Element tight by Louis Garneau on warmer days and the fleece lined Optimum tight when it’s a tad colder. Both tights come with lots of reflective patches.
  • For a styling option add the Louis Garneau Rocket skirt over a pair of tights. (I am in love with this piece of clothing. It’s only available in-store at Sporting Life. I understand its super popular with hockey moms who are sick of cold butts.)
  • Base layer tops – try either a simple breathable athletic t-shirt like the ones by Asic or the women’s Delta LT jacket – a zippered version that’s more like a cozy long-sleeved shirt made by Arc’teryx
  • Add a fleece vest like the retro one made by Patagonia

Checking out Lorette Ponds wearing the Arc’teryx toque and cardigan, Louise Garneau Optimum tights, Salomon boots & Oakley sunglasses

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

Need more warmth – add Patagonia’s Retro Pile fleece vest

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

Add the Asics cap-sleeve t-shirt for a breathable lightweight under layer

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

The Louis Garneau tight, Ardent Jacket and Rocket Skirt are great stylish options for cool days; throw on a warm neck warmer from BuffCanada and a pair of lightweight Salomon gloves and you’re good to go for hours

Prepping for winter when the temperature really drops

Keeping warmth in and the wind out is critical. If it’s not a bitterly cold day, stick with the Louis Garneau Optimum tight on your legs – but add layers on top to keep your core warm. Start with the Delta LT jacket by Arc’teryx. Add something like the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody jacket that works as an outer layer in some conditions and a mid-layer in others. If it’s windy or very cold first thing in the morning throw on the Arc’teryx Sentinel Jacket. Not only is it  bombproof when it comes to wind and water but it sports a powder skirt to keep the snow from going up your back.

Finish the outfit with a hat – like the brightly coloured Fernie toque by Arc’teryx available in eight colours and a pair of gloves.

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

Start layering when it gets really cold

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

If you’ve heated up after a climb pull off the outer layer

Footwear for late fall and winter

I still wear my Salomon hiking shoes that I’ve had for 18 months now if it’s not too cold and I know I won’t be out for a full day. For something really warm I switch to my Joan of Arctic Sorels While I love the look and the warmth of the boots I don’t love walking around Calgary in them unless it’s bitterly cold or we’ve had a big dump of snow. Instead I’ve added a winterized version of the Blundstone boot to my winter wardrobe. The boots come with a fleece insert to add more warmth. They’re very comfortable with forgiving leather and a great all-round choice in the city. Don’t forget to pick up the Blundstone Polishing Pad (in store) to keep your boots looking great. Lightly condition your boots and they will last for many years.

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

Blundstone winter boots with fleece insoles will keep you warm and styling

Don’t forget the pack

For day trips I like a pack that has a minimum volume of 30 litres. Once the cold hits you need to have room for extra clothes like a second set of socks and mitts. You may also find you’re taking your clothes on and off all day, depending on what the weather Gods throw your way. Last year I lost an Arc’teryx coat when it fell off the back of an old pack because there wasn’t enough room to stuff it inside. Don’t let that happen to you.

I have a new Arc’teryx Khamski 31 backpack. Made of a tough, tear-resistant fabric, it’s super durable and roomy with two large compartments. It’s also got straps in all the right places so that it would be easy to cinch a pair of snowshoes onto the pack. It’s available in store only.

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

Make sure your pack is big enough to carry warm clothes, something hot to drink and the other 10 essentials

Before you head outside

We all know flexibility is a big part of being fit. I’m the first to admit that I don’t do enough on a daily basis to improve my flexibility but I have vowed – especially now that I have a new, thicker, more comfortable yoga mat, that I will make positive changes. What I really need to do is keep the mat in the TV room and stretch while I watch the news. And stick it in the car so I have it available on any short overnight trips. The Manduka Prolite yoga mats are particularly comfortable – though I haven’t followed their directions to salt my mat before use. While its reportedly ideal for hot yoga, that’s not happening with me anytime soon. I’ll stick with stretching and ball work!

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

It really does feel so good when I stretch!!

Start prepping for winter. Even if you live in a balmy part of the country cue Toronto this week – winter is coming. And if you shop early you’ll always find more choice in colours and sizes.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest board.

Prepping for Winter: 15 Must-Haves to Keep You Warm & Stylish

This post was made possible by Sporting Life – as you might have guessed. Check out their stores in Toronto, Etobicoke, Markham, North York, Ottawa, and Calgary along with a new one opening any day in Montreal. Next fall Vancouver will also see a store.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
Follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

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