Top 6 Tips for Winter Travelers: Stay Warm Without the Bulk

If you’re traveling to a place with frigid temperatures, you’ll need to pack the right clothes to help you stay warm. However, many classic winter pieces have a reputation for being bulky and heavy—characteristics that aren’t particularly ideal for travel. And while layers of thick clothing can keep you warm outside, they can quickly feel stifling when you’re indoors.

While style isn’t usually at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re trying to stay warm, it still matters. Sadly, it’s hard to take that Instagram-worthy travel picture under layers of bulky clothing, as they tend to obscure the silhouette and create what many refer to as the “snowman” look.

That being said, it’s more than possible to don a compact winter outfit. It’s all a matter of choosing light yet functional clothes, then layering them appropriately. With the right techniques and closet pieces, you won’t have to sacrifice style and comfort for warmth.

To help you pack for your next trip, below are six tips for creating sleek and stylish outfits that’ll keep you toasty through the coldest of winters.

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Choose Comfortable Materials with Good Insulation

Top 6 Tips for Winter Travelers

Remember, the right choice of material can greatly enhance a clothing item’s ability to retain heat. You won’t need to wear layers of bulky clothing if you have a few simple pieces that are comfortable and well-insulated. Many fashion brands now provide light and breathable garments that are specifically designed to maintain body heat. If you’re looking for clothes with natural fibers, opt for those made from merino or cashmere wool. They provide fantastic insulation while being lightweight and soft to the touch.

Layer Your Bottoms

Top 6 Tips for Winter Travelers

For bottoms, it’s best to wear those that are lined with or made out of thicker materials. Items like fleece-lined leggings, leather pants, or denim jeans work well. However, if the weather in your destination is very chilly, you may want to layer your bottoms for extra warmth.

Start with a thinner and lighter layer, then wear a thicker bottom over it. You may adjust this depending on how cold your destination is. For example, under a pair of fleece-lined leggings, you may opt to wear thick hosiery. For colder climates, hosiery with a denier of 70 to 180 is usually recommended.

Wear a Light, Moisture-Wicking, and Versatile Base Layer

Top 6 Tips for Winter Travelers

Your base layer should be light yet versatile. Lighter materials will prevent your body from overheating when you step inside a warmer place. Tops with moisture-wicking properties are ideal, as they prevent sweat from dampening your clothes. Meanwhile, a versatile design will ensure that you look good and feel comfortable even after you’ve peeled off the outer layers of your ensemble.

On that note, turtlenecks and long-sleeved shirts are suitable options. Try to get them in snug fits, as they’re generally better at trapping heat and offer a more polished look. You may also want to tuck in your top, as this seals in heat and keeps the cold out. Alternatively, you can wear a fitted camisole or tank top underneath your base layer during colder weather.

Replace Bulky Knitwear with a Down Feather Jacket or Vest

Knitted sweaters or jumpers are classic winter mid-layers. Unfortunately, they can get quite bulky, especially when they’re layered on top of one another.

While the mid-layer of your outfit is crucial for keeping your core warm, wearing it doesn’t have to be cumbersome. A down-feather jacket can retain heat just as well as three knitted sweaters, but without the added weight. Simply slip it on when you’re going out, and slip it off when you’re headed inside—no more peeling off layers upon layers of knitwear.

You can also opt to wear a down-feather vest instead. This way, you won’t have to worry about sleeves bunching up beneath your outerwear.

Wear a Long and Sleek Coat for Outerwear

Top 6 Tips for Winter Travelers

Outerwear is the cherry on top of your winter outfit. It ties everything together while adding a final layer of protection. Long coats with sleek silhouettes are well-suited for this purpose. A longer length provides extra coverage, eliminating the need for more underlayers. Meanwhile, a defined silhouette gives some shape to your overall look. Coats with belts—like trench coats—are a perfect example of outerwear that’s both stylish and functional.

Add Accessories for Extra Warmth

Accessories are essential yet optional. It’s a paradoxical combination, but that’s what makes them the perfect addition to a compact winter outfit. Items like hats and gloves are crucial for protecting parts of your body that clothes can’t cover, namely your ears and hands. Even if you wear a turtleneck, a scarf can provide that added layer of insulation. However, when you no longer need your accessories, they can easily be taken off and stored inside a bag.

The tips above show that achieving a light, flattering, and functional winter look isn’t impossible. All you need are clothes that feature the right materials and designs. With some tactful layering and strategic accessorizing, you can create a streamlined outfit that will keep you toasty throughout your travels.