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Find out how to dress for winter in Canada, so you can make the most of the colder weather.

If you’ve moved to Canada from abroad, then you may be about to encounter colder weather than you’ve ever experienced before. That is why it is important to pack the right winter clothes for Canada.

In fact, “will it be cold over there?” is probably one of the first questions people asked you while you planned your move.

The exact answer depends on where you’re living. Daytime temperatures in Vancouver in winter are generally above freezing and are similar to Western Europe, though it can be rainy.

But in other regions popular with newcomers, temperatures can fall as low as -40°C, sometimes even -50°C or -60°C. And even then, the severity of the temperature can depend on the wind, as -30°C on a calm day may be more comfortable than -10°C being blasted into your face on a blustery day.

Yes, you could stay indoors. And yes, cities like Edmonton and Toronto have underground walkways weaving through the city, designed to keep you warm.

But you’re going to have to head outdoors at some stage, and when you do, it’s good to be prepared. Let us help you pack all you’ll need when it comes to winter clothes in Canada. With this guide, you’ll know exactly what to get and how to dress for winter in Canada.

Pssst! We have tons of articles to help you thrive during winter in Canada:

Layer up!

It’s tempting to buy one expensive puffy coat, put it on as you head out the door, and use it as an easy solution to beat the colder temperatures.

But in practice, you’re going to need to account for a wide variety of temperatures – even within the same day.

A series of layers means you can regulate your temperature and adjust your clothing accordingly as you move from outdoors to indoors. This will help you know what to wear and how to dress for winter in Canada.

Add a sweater and trousers to your initial layer, and consider adding a thicker sweater or winter coat, and perhaps ski trousers. Invest in some good quality boots, and consider anti-skid soles so you can walk on icy footpaths.

When it’s really cold, you may even want to put on some thermal underwear too. Who said winter clothes in Canada couldn’t be sexy?

Keep your extremities warm

Don’t forget to wear a hat, gloves, and earmuffs. You lose most of your heat through your head, so this is crucial to stay warm where the winter in Canada is especially cold.

Bring lip balm with you for added comfort, and sunglasses if you’re driving.

Check the materials you’re buying

Cotton can do more harm than good in winter, particularly if you’re walking in rain or snow.

The material doesn’t dry quickly, and can end up cooling you down even further.

Cotton has come in for particular criticism from mountain rescue teams. Those hiking in winter in Canada can freeze in a wet cotton hoodie.

Adjust as you go

It’s a pain layering up and layering down as you move from office to street, and from crowded bus to footpath.

But it’s important to do so, as being too hot can be as bad as being too cold.

The dampness produced by sweat will mean you become even colder when you do need to step back outside.

So avoid the temptation to stay layered in warmer environments. If figuring out how to dress for winter in Canada seems like a lot of work that’s because it is. But trust us, you’ll be glad you went to the extra effort!

Don’t be put off exploring winter in Canada

Winter in Canada can be a beautiful experience. It’s not always comfortable, but the scenery can be beautiful, and unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Embrace the weather, plan accordingly, and understand how to dress for winter in Canada and you can have the experience of a lifetime.

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About the author

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Hugo O'Doherty

He/Him
Canadian Immigration & Integration Specialist
Hugo O’Doherty has over a decade of experience and research in Canadian immigration, establishing him as a recognized authority on immigrant integration and adaptation. His personal and professional experiences with immigration have made him an expert on the practical aspects of successfully moving to and settling in Canada.
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