What to Pack – Cold Climate Backpacking


Heading to the South Island in the middle of winter means that my backpack contents needed a makeover. I came to New Zealand in the middle of September (aka spring) and didn’t need much more than a hoodie as my warmest clothing item. It’s definitely not going to cut it anymore! I’m left with the dilemma of what to pack once again. I’ve purchased a few long sleeve tops and actual outerwear to keep me warm.

So, with the makeover done and me on my way out the door, I thought I would show you what is in my backpack now.

My bag inventory:

  • 4 jeans
  • 1 cotton trouser
  • 2 shorts
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 dresses (1 long sleeve 1 short sleeve)
  • 1 crop top
  • 2 tank tops
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • 3 thin knit sweaters
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 wool sweater
  • 1 flannel shirt
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 sweatpants
  • various number of socks and underwear (I don’t know how many I have)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 tights
  • 1 spandex shorts (I like wearing these under my skirts/dresses and to sleep in hot weather)
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • 1 raincoat
  • Toiletries & makeup
  • 1 travel towel
  • Outerwear (coat, scarf, gloves, hat)

This is definitely more than you would need. I have a lot of extras because I’ve been living in Auckland for a while and accumulated extras. I sent a bit home but could only fit so much in the package. I’ll probably send another box of winter clothes back before heading to Fiji. If I was packing from scratch inside of packing everything I own, I would cut things down to doubles instead of the 4s and 3s I currently have – 2 jeans, 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweaters, etc. Even though I would pack less in an ideal situation, all of this still easily fits into my 65l backpack so I’m not over fussed with it.

My theory for what to pack for cold climate is layers! I will easily be able to layer my long sleeve shirt with a knit shirt and even again with a hoodie if it’s really cold. I feel like this is a good way to keep the big bulky winter items at bay. It helps keep my bag light weight but also keep me warm when the temperature drops.

I know there are other ways to pack for cold climate backpacking. How do you prepare for travelling in cold weather?

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