Pack Light and Stay Warm for Winter Trips

With the winter months approaching, packing for a getaway might get a bit tricky. Going light is always ideal, but is it manageable if headed somewhere especially cold? Luckily enough, there are easy packing hacks to keep the load off while still packing the right gear. We’ve got six tips below to make the next suitcase stuffing a (warm) breeze!

Layer up. Who knew packing five huge wool sweaters wasn’t necessary? The best way to stay warm is to stick to lots of layering. Pack light tank tops (for women) or t-shirts (for guys) along with a few button downs or cardigans. Bonus points for packing long underwear or other types of thermal clothing—these will keep people just as warm, if not warmer, than lugging a huge puffy jacket around. For layering 101, especially if traveling for outdoor adventures, make sure to bring base layers that protect against moisture (think: synthetic fabrics), insulating layers to combat the cold (thin fleece or wool), and outer layers (like waterproof or insulated shells) to shield wind and rain.

Remember your head, hands, and feet. A lot of heat is lost through the head, hands, and feet, so it’s especially important to cover up those areas well. Lucky for us, hats, gloves, and socks don’t take too much space and are perfect options for stuffing in a carry-on. If exposed to especially cold temperatures, it’s important to wear two layers of gloves and socks: one thin, synthetic liner, and an insulated outer layer. Do this, and even Hotel de Glace will even feel warm.

Choose compression! This trick is a trekker’s’ dream, especially if looking to do some winter hiking Place the bulkiest items (think coats, thick pants) incompression packing bags. These gems reduce excess air and create more space for other clothes and shoes in the suitcase.

Pack smart. Are three pairs of shoes really necessary? Think about what items are especially heavy (shoes, jackets) and stick to 1-2 of each at a maximum. Rolling instead of folding clothes in a suitcase also saves space. Just make sure to be careful if packing any clothes especially vulnerable to wrinkling; materials like wool and cotton are great for rolling, but collared shirts and nicer business attire should probably be folded. If clothes are folded, save them till’ the end to pack—it’s easier to close the bag with folded items on top.

Bring traveled-sized detergent! While packing light is important, clothes might still get dirty pretty quickly. One of our favorite tricks is to pack a travel-sized detergent to do laundry on-the-go. Simply soak dirty clothes in a sink for a few hours, ring them out, and leave them to dry. (Just make sure to time this so damp clothes aren’t stuffed back into a suitcase if heading to another destination the next day.) Many towns and hotels also have laundromats, so look this up ahead of time. It’s  also best to wear that shirt two or three times before giving it a wash. Unless it’s super smelly, nobody will really care!

Wear the heavy stuff. There’s no denying it: bringing some sort of heavy coat is a must. Instead of worrying about packing it, wear it on the plane, train, or automobile—if it gets warm, just take it off and stow it away.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 4, 2015.

The Toronto Ice Storm

We get our money’s worth as far as weather goes in Toronto. All 4 seasons. It can be 34 c in the summer (as it was this past July) and -24 c at some point in the winter. Weather forecasts are educated guesses and don’t often turn out as advertised. Except this time. This was the worst ice storm in the history of Toronto. At one point, almost 300,000 Toronto homes without power. Including mine for 3 days. It was so cold that we went to friends after 1 day. No power equals no heat. And the ice storm meant lots of tree damage in my east end neighbourhood. Here’s a a few of my pictures.

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Skiing in Norway: Back to Basics

Skiing in Norway? Probably not your first choice or for most people. How can it compete with the glitz, glamour and après skis of the Alps? It doesn’t have the verticals or expansive terrain of Canada, so it can’t claim that. The only thing it can do is be different. Instead focus on making sure that everyone knows how different it is. And it is different.

I’ve had the fortune to have done a bit of skiing in my time (this an attempt to modestly say I’m a ski bum). This time I decided to venture away from the usual destinations of the Alps. No longer following the masses like a lemming, I opted to book a skiing holiday to Norway with Crystal Ski. I was sold on the fact that Norway had empty slopes. Skiing within yourself and carving sharply to avoid a gathering of people mid run would be a thing of the past! Any sort of ski rage would be non-existent.

Norway- Hemsedal from the Top

What I wasn’t expecting were the resorts themselves. Once you have visited a few resorts around Europe, you get the sense that they are all the same. Identical shops, identical restaurants. Turn left onto any street and it’s lined with spas and hotels. Why would Norway be any different? Well maybe it is because the destinations popularity dipped as others grew; maybe it is because everyone thinks the winters are harsh (they’re not by the way) or maybe it is that everyone thinks that it is really hard to get to. Whatever the reason is, it hasn’t been hit by the commercial fist of the ski industry. It was a rustic quaint resort that oozed skiing.

The resorts themselves were rural looking log cabins lined with snow. Not a neon light in sight. Nothing big, nothing brash just understated. The closest resorts in style to them are some of the lesser known ones in North American. As pretty as the villages are their primary goal is to be a place to stay while skiing. That is not to say that there are no facilities, but they do not overwhelm the resort. Something that can’t always be said (I’m looking at you Aspen). The facilities enhance the experience. At no point do you walk down the street and lose your sense of place. Always there is overwhelming feeling that you are in Scandinavia.

Norway- Hemsedal lodge

Once you learn the history of Norway you begin to realize why it is like this. There aren’t many cultures that are as entwined with all things ski as Norway is. They claim to have invented it; they definitely invented a couple of turns (Telemark and Stem Christie); and they spend an obscene amount of money on equipment. For them it isn’t a hobby, it is a way of life and a means of transport. This is probably the biggest reason why skiing takes centre stage over everything else in Norway. And why Norway is a back to basics destination.

Norway isn’t perfect though. It can be let down by the slopes. They are not challenging enough. No chutes, no gulleys but plenty of fresh powder. At mid week, the urge for something new becomes overwhelming. Cross country skiing becomes a genuine option. In Norway it is a major sport, not just the coward’s way out. So the courses stretch for miles and miles. The fact that Cross country is so important to Norwegians could be why the downhill runs see less attention and why it doesn’t suffer from overcrowding.

So Norway is a destination for skiers who have had enough of the sideshow around Europe and the Alps. If it had a few more difficult runs and alpine lined slopes, it would probably be heralded as a Mecca for the skiing purist. But it doesn’t. But what it did offer me was a week purely dedicated to the pursuit of powder. A week I enjoyed. A week of fresh air living. I left almost as chilled as my Scandinavian hosts. Pure escapism on the slopes.

Thanks to Martin Nolan, certified ski bum, for this post on the often overlooked ski destination of Norway. Follow Martin on Twitter @martinnolan7