I must be half crazy to decide to ship us off to Germany for 4 weeks in winter… My child and I are so used to southern temps that we freeze when it’s 50 degrees outside. We have to be really prepared for some crazy cold weather hiking the Alps and meandering through Christmas Markets, or suffer through rain. Making this an even bigger challenge, I’m doing carry on only. Due to the fact that we’ll be marching along from place to place on public transport, the last thing I want to deal with is big heavy luggage So backpacks it is. Here are some of the items I’ve found to help us manage cold temps, snow and rain.
1. Winter waterproof jacket. I researched jackets for weeks and bought several only to ship them back as they didn’t stand up to the standards I was looking for. Many people may wish to go with a packable down jacket and I would recommend that if they were water proof, but sadly, they tend to soak through quick and take a long time to dry out. You can fix that by bringing a packable rain coat and layer them, but then I felt frumpy. So after all my searching I opted for the Eddie Bauer Superior 3.0 Down Parka. I love this jacket as it’s longer but has a reverse zipper so you can give yourself some leg room for hiking or sitting on the bus. I love the super deep front pocket that snaps shut, it’s not easy for pick pockets to get into. But it also has side pockets for your hands, plus an inside pocket and a small pocket on the arm. The lining is smooth so it won’t rub and pill my sweaters and I loved the drawstring inside so I can keep the draft out and it made it a little more figure flattering. The fur on the hood is cute but removable if it’s raining. The hood itself is adjustable so it fits snug if the wind is blowing. I bought the boysenberry color which is more of an aubergine/burgundy, it looks more purple online, but is not so much in person. It’s a really pretty color. I liked this jacket so much that I purchased the boys model in green for Riley. It fit him a little large, but I’m hoping that means it fits him next year too. I’m also pleasantly surprised at how small I can roll these up and snap on the outside of our bags if by chance it’s warm and we don’t want to wear them. We have both tested their rain resistance and have been impressed at how dry we stayed.
2. Warm shoes! This took quite a bit of research too. I’m a barefoot/minimalist shoe wearer and finding a boot that fits that criteria isn’t easy. I’m happy that Xero Shoes released a women’s winter boot this year that ticked most all the boxes on my want list. They are very warm and comfortable with a grippy tread. I wont be nervous on slippery cobblestone streets in these. The only downside is that they are not water proof, but they are water resistant and I also sprayed them with scotchguard to help them stay as dry as possible. They’ve been tested in pretty wet weather already and passed with flying colors.
3. Base layers. Layers work! I found 32 Degree brand Lightweight base layer tops and leggings do the trick and they are odor resistant so we can get a second wear out of them. They are thin and pack super small so I can keep a few sets in the backpack and they don’t take up valuable space yet they are truly a great base layer that keep you warmer and wick moisture away from your body if you hike with them. Bonus, they also come in kid sizes. If you are a Costco member, I found them cheaper there this year, but here are links for Amazon so you know what I’m talking about.
4. Merino wool socks. These are the best for keeping my always cold feet warm and they air dry overnight well if I wash them in the sink. There are all price ranges for Merino wool socks, but I prefer the Kirkland brand as they are every bit as good as the expensive ones but cheap.
5. Travel Scarf. This might not feel like a necessity, but for me it has an added bonus of security for our passports. I want to keep them as close to me as possible in something I wont take off like I would a purse or jacket. So I’m using a travel scarf. These have a hidden zipper pocket that your phone or passport can fit in. You really can’t tell they are hiding in there and you won’t have to worry about dropping them out of a pocket or possibly stolen if someone grabs your purse or backpack. I hope for the best but prepare for the worst. There are several styles out there, even thinner ones for summer wear.
6. Cheap furry fleece lined leggings. I hate jeans. I would live in leggings every day if I could, and mostly do… But they aren’t very warm. These cheap fur lined ones are so toasty and cozy. Some brands are see through or fleece lined which are still thin and the fabric tends to snag. These however are thick and do the job. I will say that the top stitching leaves a lot to be desired, but for the price and the warmth, I wont complain as my sweaters cover it anyway. Don’t wear them on warmer days as you just might cook in them!
And of course, I’ll be packing a few sweaters. I recommend wool (Merino or Cashmere) for the insulating factor as well as the fact that they are naturally odor resistant and you’ll get more wears out of them between washes. I would not recommend hoodies, though I live in them… The extra fabric behind your neck, with your hair, a scarf and a thick jacket with a hood as well as a backpack is really uncomfortable. So keep that in mind if you plan to do a lot of hiking or walking around outdoors in a thick jacket or a backpack.