As somebody who experienced only the very few snow days in England growing up, and whose family vacations were never to skiing resorts, my knowledge of ‘how to cope with sub-zero temperatures’ was at an all-time low when I moved my life to Canada!! I quickly learned that preparing for winter is so important.
For those of you who know as little as I did, there is no judgement here.
I’ve made a few vital check-lists of the basic essentials to help prepare you…
Don’t learn the hard way like I did – Make sure you’re ready and check them all off!
Essential Winter Wardrobe:
- A good quality coat – A very popular brand here is Canada Goose who provide down-filled Parkas that are designed to endure the harshest wind and snow. Unfortunately, these coats are around $800-$1,000(!) so if your budget is limited like mine, other very similar parkas are available at places like SportChek, Hudson’s Bay and Aritzia.
Bear in mind though, if you’re spending multiple months at a time in very low temperatures, I would say this is probably your most important investment and price often reflects crucial quality!
- Warm & waterproof boots with good grip – It only takes that one time when you wear unsuitable footwear and end up freezing your toes off in wet socks before you will head straight to a store to get some snow boots!!
I went to Hudson’s Bay for my pair and ended up staring blankly at all of the (quite ugly!) snow boot options on the shelves… Accept they won’t be the most fashionable things in the world, and instead opt for ones that are waterproof, have thick fluffy lining for warmth and have a great tread depth for grip on the ice.
- Scarf, Hat, Gloves – Cause, duh.
- Snow Pants/Trousers – So the thickest trousers you usually own are probably jeans, right? Well, they just aren’t warm enough and absolutely suck when they get wet. Especially if you plan to roll around in the snow or participate in any winter sports. SportChek carries a wide range of styles and colours of these padded waterproof pants with prices ranging from $50 – $200.
- Balaclava – Often completely forgotten but really essential when the wind chill is freakishly low. Remember: The air hurts your face here.
- Layers Layers Layers – Before moving to Canada, I never actually owned a long-sleeved top! Now, I never leave the house without my arms covered with a base shirt, a sweater/jumper over that, then a cardigan or bomber, then my coat – Because being cold sucks and I suddenly don’t mind looking like a 500lbs marshmallow. Layers are KEY!
- Flannel PJs and Thick Socks – Because there’s nothing better than curling up all cosy at home in front of Netflix watching the snow falling outside.
Essential Winter Car Items:
If you’re planning on driving in Canada, the obvious is to make sure you have winter tyres as, especially in Ontario, icy conditions can be a killer. There are also other recommended items to keep stored in your vehicle:
- Extra washer fluid – You use a LOT of washer as salt and dirt sprays from other cars on snowy roads so keep a spare bottle in your trunk.
- Ice Scraper & Snow Brush – Usually comes together on one handy handle.
- Snow Shovel – If it snows a lot during your time away from your car, you may have to dig around your tyres so you can leave!
- Traction Aid – Pack a bag of sand or cat litter to help with traction if you end up trapped somewhere particularly slippy.
- Hat/Scarf/Gloves/Socks & Emergency Blanket – If you break down and your car heater isn’t available in -40 degrees, you’ll thank me…
- Reflective Pylons/Traffic Cones or Triangle – Essential to ensure other drivers can see your broken-down vehicle.
- Non-Perishable Food (e.g. Granola Bars) & Bottles of Water
- First Aid Kit
- Flash Light (and Batteries)
- Booster Cables
- Cell Phone Charger
Essential Winter Activities:
A more detailed post will be coming very soon but before you find yourself stuck at home going crazy with boredom, here is a quick list of 20 things to do when it’s cold out….
- Snow Tubing
- Ice Skating
- Snow Mobiling
- Snow Shoe Hiking
- Sleigh Rides (Husky, Horse or Reindeer!)
- Hot Tub
- Snowball Fight
- Bake Cookies
- Spa Day
- Christmas Markets
- Snowman or Snowangel making
- SkyZone (Indoor Trampolining)
- Hot Chocolate. Books. Fireplace. Heaven.
- Indoor Mall Shopping: Make the most of the post-Christmas sales!
- Hot Yoga
- Ice Fishing
Essential Winter Food & Drink:
Never underestimate the power of a warm & tasty winter meal!
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches dipped in Tomato Soup
- Baked Eggs
- Poutine! – Fries, Cheese Curds, Gravy, Genius.
- Hot Chocolate & Baileys
- Beef, Chicken Or Veg Stew
- Noodle Soup
- Oatmeal / Porridge
- Chilli Con Carne
- Pumpkin Soup
- Hot Apple Pie
- Mulled Wine or Hot Cider
- Lamb Shanks
- Slow-Cooker Roasts
- Roasted Potatoes & Gravy
- Thai Green Curry
- Beans on Toast!
What advice would you give to newcomers about to experience a snowy winter?