Seriously though, as many of you have known, I was born & raised in Manila, Philippines where the climate is very tropical and the coldest temperature you could experience is around 20 degrees unless you live in the mountains. I have experienced an 8 degree temperature when we went hiking at Mt. Pulag and that's it. I am the type of person that can't stand being in an air-conditioned room that has a temperature of 23 degrees without wearing a very thick jacket. So imagine the surprise of all the people who know me when they learned that I am moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba where it is considered one of the coldest provinces of Canada. Winnipeg even gained a nickname of "Winterpeg" because it has very long winters normally.
I arrived last year during the tail end of the winter, max temperature was -25 degrees. Then I experienced my full winter after that wherein I experienced commuting by bus in a -40 degree weather & needing to wait 25 minutes in a bus stop without heating with strong winds of at least 30-40kph just to go to work. I swear, having a car here is a necessity for survival (if only I have driver's license).
So today, I wanted to share with you all my winter essentials in terms of gears that had helped me survive the Canadian winter.
#1 Weatherproof Down Jacket
It really doesn't matter what brand you get, as long as it has a weatherproof outer layer to keep moisture & wind out. It also must have a down lining to keep you warm. Winter jackets can go from C$100 to as high as C$1000 per piece so it really depends on what brand and style you want. Mine is just a generic Canadian-made jacket that costs C$150 but it works really well. If you get cold easily like me, I would suggest getting a longer length one where it reaches the knees. This way, your whole body will be covered from the wind and the rest can be covered by your boots. I would also suggest getting a size up to allow you to put layers underneath without restricting your movements. Also make sure you have pockets where you can put and warm your hands in. I prefer the hoods of my jackets to be fur-lined (faux fur of course) so that it weighs it down when it is windy. All the small details matter when it comes to winter jackets. In my opinion, this is the most important gear you need in order to survive winter so be very careful in choosing.
#2 Winter Boots
This is very personal as people prefers different things when looking for footwear. Me, personally, I go for comfort and functionality. I prefer mid calf to knee length to cover more area. I also always gravitate to soft boots as I walk a lot. My 2 favorite winter boots are my Columbia Omni Heat and Airwalk knee high boots. Both have polyester faux fur lining that keeps my feet & calves warm and have flexible soles that makes them easy to walk on. Snow boots are too heavy and stiff for my liking even though a lot prefer those as they are more durable.
As you can see, this model has a heat tech lining on the foot area to add some warmth on your feet. I prefer to use my Columbia omni heat boots if the weather is around -30 to -40 degrees and I need to be out because this pair really keeps my toes toasty warm. I got a bigger size because I wear very thick socks with this pair and I need some room. This costs around C$200, I got mine on sale for C$70.
My Airwalk knee high boots is the cruelty-free version of UGGs. I really love the style of UGG boots, they are also really comfortable and warm but they uses sheep skin and fur on their shoes and I don't want to support that industry. This pair really keeps my calves very warm and I usually wear this on a regular winter day when I don't need to wear very thick socks. This is not as warm on the toes though so I don't like wearing this if I need to walk in the snow very long. I got this from Payless Shoe Source for C$60 when I first came here last February. Always wait for end of season sale or any promo as Payless always have a sale going on.
#3 Toque (also called bonnet or beanie in some places)
These are the 3 styles I like wearing. I just alternate them depending on the windchill for the day. If it is really cold & windy, I prefer my pilot hat because it covers a lot of areas- forehead, ears, back of the neck- and I can lock it under my chin so it won't fly away. This is perfect especially if the hood of my jacket gets removed at least my head is still warm enough. It also has a polyester lining that retains heat.
For everyday, I just alternate between a plain one or something with pompoms on top. It would really depend on what look I am going for and what kind of ear cover I will use. As long as it can keep my head warm under the hood, then that's good enough for me.
#4 Scarves & Neck Covers
Covering your neck and face is very crucial especially if it is really windy. The cold wind really feels like something is cutting your face so you need something to cover you at all times. I always have a scarf with me for that purpose. Or if it's really really windy, I just wear my neck cover that I can pull up to my nose. Guys prefer wearing baclava instead of wearing all these gears but I still want to look cute so I choose scarves haha 😜
#5 Gloves / Mittens
Keep your hands warm at all times because it will help your body stay warm. I prefer wearing gloves coz it is easier to carry stuff but mittens are warmer. You can buy any brand as well, the blue one on the picture is just from Dollarama for just a couple of bucks and it works well for layering.
#6 Ear Covers
If you are wearing a pilot hat style toque, you won't need this but if you decided to just wear a regular beanie or just hoodies, it is better to wear ear protectors. Keeping your ears warm is crucial as they can easily get frostbite. The brand and price doesn't matter as well, as long as your ears get covered completely it is all good. The poofy one is warmer for me but the plain one is less bulky under the hood of my jacket. It really depends on what your style is.
#7 Thick Socks and Leg Warmers
Don't forget to stock up on socks if you are going in a cold place. I usually wear a thin cotton one first to absorb perspiration then a thick fleece-lined socks on top to keep my toes warm. I naturally get cold feet easily but they perspire a lot too so it was a bit tricky for me. I also love wearing leg warmers if I decided to just wear lower cut boots or I just wanted extra warmth if it's a really cold day.
#8 Fleece-lined Leggings
Layering is key during winter. My favorite leggings to wear under my pants are made by Cozy. A pair of leggings costs C$25 but I usually wait for a sale wherein they offer it 2pcs for C$40 or during their store closing sale where they sell everything for just C$10! Cozy is a seasonal brand and their stores are only open during winter time. I actually just stocked up for the next winter last month before they close hehe. In my opinion, layering 2 cozy leggings is way warmer than wearing just leggings & jeans.
#9 Fleece-lined Sweaters or Hoodies
I am so in love with my Under Armour sweaters because they have kept me warm during this winter. I just need to wear a longsleeve or a T-shirt underneath this and I'm all good. Another hoodie on top if it's really chilly then I'm all set to put my winter coat. This is really one of my winter essentials. I even have this in 4 different colors to alternate hehe. Will definitely get new ones for next season as well.
BONUS #10 Ski Pants
And lastly, if you really can't take the cold anymore, go wear a pair of ski pants on top of your pants. I usually wear mine if it's really windy and the wind chill is around -40 degrees. Standing in a bus stop that has no shield from the wind is really hard so any added layer to keep the wind at bay really helps. This is also helpful in keeping you dry just in case you slipped on the sidewalk and you landed on your butt in the snow hehe you know me, accidents can happen because I'm too clumsy.
I say layering is crucial because you never know if it will still be that cold in the afternoon as it was in the morning. At least it would be easier to remove layers if it get warm enough. Just look at this picture I took last year. From snowing to nothing in just a span of 6 hours hehe. Winnipeg weather is just so finicky 😝
So that's it! I know it is a very long post but I hope this is really helpful for all of you who wanted to visit another country during winter or you are also planning to migrate. Thank you so much for reading through until the end!
Till next time!