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From shorts to warm jackets, leggings and swimwear, find out what to wear when traveling through the Canadian Rocky Mountains!
What to Wear in the Canadian Rockies
Written By: Rachel Campbell
The Canadian Rockies are stunning in every meaning of the word. From sky-high mountains, to a lake that freezes bubbles in the middle of winter, to flowers that dot the side of the road with almost every color you could imagine, this is a hiker’s paradise.
But what should you wear while discovering the mountains in British Columbia and Alberta?
What to Wear when Traveling the Canadian Rockies: Winter
When visiting the Rockies during winter (late October to April), you’ll want to pack for those cold days and nights.
Even though it may seem like your only options are big, bulky choices, that’s just not the case! The temperature varies greatly in this large region, so be sure to check the weather for the area you’ll be visiting.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Winter
- How to Pack for Cold Weather
- How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather (without the bulk)
- The Best Travel Shoes for Winter
Sweaters are key in any winter environment. Great for layering over tank tops and long sleeve shirts as well as under large thick jackets, cotton sweaters can be put on or taken off at your will, making them extremely fun to style.
Here are a few layering tips on how to stay warm in cold weather!
An OMNI-HEAT Jacket
An OMNI-HEAT insulated jacket should be a staple in any winter wardrobe. The key is to get a jacket that’s a neutral color so you can easily style it with anything. Black is the best choice. Although white goes with everything, it shows dirt too easily during a hike or a walk around town.
Find out the best down jacket for your cold weather travels!
Fleece-Lined Legging | Merino Pants
Wool Pants or Thick Fleece-Lined Leggings
If you plan on being outside for long periods of time, a great pair of wool pants or thick, fleece-lined leggings are a must-have. Not only will these types of pants keep you toasty and warm, but you’ll stay comfortable throughout your various walking and hiking excursions. You could wear jeans, but they don’t move nearly as well.
Find out what TFG readers voted as the best leggings for women who travel!
Insulated Snow Pants
Skiing and snowboarding are top winter activities within the mountains, and for good reason. So naturally you may be interested in trying your luck on the slopes. If you are, then a good thing to pack is a pair of insulated snow pants. They will keep you warm and dry during the day.
Here’s a collection of the best waterproof boots for travel this winter. They’ll keep your feet warm and dry!
Much like gloves, mittens are meant to keep your hands nice and warm. Unlike gloves, mittens are meant for even colder temperatures by trapping warm air between your fingers. These are great for events where you plan on keeping them on for long periods of time.
Even though you might have to take them off in order to grip your coffee or hot chocolate, you’ll find that they’re super fun to accessorize with as they come in a vast amount of colors and patterns.
Here’s a list of fashionable winter accessories for women!
Sunglasses aren’t just for summer–you’ll need them during the winter as well. The mountain snow is extremely bright as the sun reflects off of it. Make sure you get a polarized pair to protect your eyes!
Find out the benefits of polarized sunglasses plus our top picks!
What to Wear when Traveling the Canadian Rockies: Summer
When traveling into the Canadian Rockies during the summer (July and August), focus on light outfits for the day and warmer outfits for nighttime.
Remember that not every summer day is going to be bright and sunny, meaning that you’ll want to prepare for less-than-ideal weather during part of your trip.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for summer travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
- Cute Summer Dresses
- Lightweight Jackets for Easy Layers
- Beach Sandals for Hot Weather Vacations
Though they’re cute and stylish, for a trip into the Rockies, avoid packing pumps or high heels. Even for a night out on the town, you’ll want a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
The people who call the Rockies home, as well as those who visit often, are known for their outdoorsy style. High heels would make you stand out like a sore thumb!
Looking for comfortable and cute walking shoes for travel? Our readers share their top brands!
Wear closed shoes in winter but during summer, a great pair of hiking sandals will be your best friend as you traverse the mountain sides. Stick with neutral colors like white, black, tan and olive green if you plan on wearing them with lots of different outfits.
Searching for the best womens outdoor sandals? Our readers voted for their favorite styles!
Short Sleeve and Long Sleeve Shirts
When packing your carry-on, pack a few different short sleeve shirts and at least one long sleeve. The short sleeve shirts are perfect for daytime wear while the long sleeve is ideal for those temperature drops during the evening and into the night.
It’s best to stay away from frilly and flowy shirts and focus on those with a basic, classic cut so you can easily layer on your accessories.
Discover our top brands for the best thermal underwear for women!
Columbia Trail Pant | Skyler Pants
Great for protecting your legs from the sun and mosquitoes, long pants are ideal for those who plan on hiking into the evening when the temperatures start to drop into the slightly uncomfortable range.
Take a look at the best pants for travel to various destinations!
If you plan on taking daytime hikes, driving around taking pictures of the roadside scenery, or even spending a few hours at a picnic by one of the many beautiful mountain lakes, short shorts are a fantastic idea.
If you plan on having pictures taken, pack a brighter colored pair of shorts so that they really stand out against the mountain backdrop. (Remember to pack some bug spray!)
These stylish summer shorts for women will take you from day to night, city to sea, and so much more!
One-Piece Plus | Bikini Set
Your Favorite Swimsuit
There might only be a handful of lakes warm enough to swim in, but there are lots of hot springs and hotel pools to enjoy. Having your bikini or one-piece with you will save you a lot of money as buying clothes in the mountains is anything but cheap.
Here are the best swimwear trends of the season!
What are your tips on what to wear in the Canadian Rockies? Share and comment below!
For more Canada packing lists, please read:
- How to Pack for Toronto
- What to Pack for Newfoundland
- What to Wear in Montreal in Winter
- What to Wear in Vancouver
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Author Bio: Rachel Campbell is a professional travel writer who has been slowly exploring the globe since 2013. Though her heart belongs to Florida and the Caribbean, she can still be found making snow angels in the cold white north from time to time. For more, follow The Florida Living Magazine and her adventures on Instagram.
Planning my trip for next year now. So excited since this was delayed from 2020!
I disagree with the cotton sweater suggestion. I live in the Canadian Rockies, and even going for a short hike or walking around with a cotton sweater layer means the cotton can get damp and clammy. Highly recommend lightweight wool or thermal layers instead. It is only September here and I have my wool layers out already!
Hi Emily, thank you for taking the time to share your insight for what to wear when traveling the Canadian rockies! 🙂
I wouldn’t recommend shorts during the winter! I live in Alberta and it gets pretty chilly after september. And if it snows, forget hiking.
I don’t think this was the most well researched article! I live in Albera and first off, I wouldn’t recommend visiting the rockies from October- April. Summers are most beautiful and May-August, even september would be ideal.
But, a lot of people love travelling for the winter adventures and that would warrant an entire winter wardrobe complete with hiking boots and snow shoes. The wardrobe listed above would be more suited to a summer visit to Alberta/BC.
Love the sunnies, but the description on the Amazon page states that they are not polarized.