Packing Tips for Your Winter Montana Vacation


Winter in Montana can seem intimidating if you’re arriving from a milder climate. But that shouldn’t stop you from visiting in one of Montana’s four best seasons. When you unzip your suitcase and stare blankly into the closet, wondering what your winter visit will bring, keep these packing tips in mind.

Remember that materials matter

Materials matter in more than one way. Ethically sourced Merino wool has the benefit of keeping you warm, even when it’s wet or you sweat, and it’s also helping the planet by offering a more sustainable option. Take a look at your clothes’ tags, and look for natural fibers like wool and synthetics like polyester, and leave the cotton at home or save it for the fireside (it’ll do nothing to keep you warm when it gets wet).

Layers, layers, layers

It’s easy to think you’ll be freezing if you touch down in the dead of Montana winter. But if you’re going for a hike or a cross-country ski, you’d be surprised how quickly you can warm up and start to sweat. Sweating is your enemy when you’re outside in winter because the second you stop moving, your body temperature will drop. Be sure to pack layers that you can easily shed, like a light puffy jacket over a wool base layer and under an insulated shell with easy-to-unzip vents. Don’t forget the gloves, hat, and cozy socks, too.

Think about your skin

Winter packing isn’t just about what you’ll wear. It’s about how you can best protect your exposed skin, too. Chapstick and moisturizer go a long way to keeping your skin protected from wind and cold. Expect to reapply throughout the day if you’re spending a lot of time on the slopes. A hand or foot warmer tucked into a mitten or boot can help you warm up quickly when the cold starts to nip.

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There’s no bad weather, only bad gear

While cozy fires, hot chocolate, and warm blankets make staying inside a lovely proposition, most people don’t come to Montana to experience the great indoors. While you should always plan your adventures around the weather, especially in winter, don’t let temperatures dropping a few degrees below freezing keep you inside.

Think strategically about what you’ll be doing while you’re in Montana, what you need to stay comfortable for each activity, and how you can build a packing list that makes sense. If you’re not sure where to start, a visit to your local gear shop at home should get you going. Heading into a store in person has the benefit that it comes with expert advice. And if the stores where you live don’t have what you need, you can do the same thing when you get here.

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You can always shop when you arrive

If you forget an item or you just can’t find the right something-or-other before you leave home, don’t panic. The best part about choosing a regenerative style of travel is that you have an ideal excuse to shop locally when you get to your destination. Not only does your dollar help support local businesses, but you can also find gear ideally suited to the climate and activities you want to do. And if you don’t need every piece of gear forever, look for options to rent from local shops.

So whether you’re ready to shred the ski hill or you want to experience one of the premier national parks in winter—with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding on the agenda—winter in Montana is just a packing list away. Book your stay, pack your bags, and watch the snow flurries fly.