How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

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seionage
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How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by seionage »

Good morning, Bogleheads. My wife & I will be leaving soon for a vacation at Lake Louise in Alberta, where lows will be -20 F. Can you all recommend what to wear in that kind of weather? Boots, pants, ear covers, etc? Thank you so much for any advice.
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Rob5TCP
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Rob5TCP »

I've been to Lake Louise and Banff many times though usually not in January. The temps CAN definitely go to -20F and lower in January, but usually is somewhat better.

Here is a chart with the average temps Jan high is usually 23F and low is 5F
http://www.infobanff.com/info/?i=aw

Currently the temps are -15F and over the next week that should be the coldest -- high will be 21F next Monday.
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=temperature+a ... ia=weather

You need layers; the colder it gets the more layers (down jacket with warm sweater and if you do a lot outdoors some warm underwear as well).
Also if you go to higher elevations it will get colder. I just looked at the record low and that was -63F. Add in wind chills and you get the idea.

You really have to be prepared for anything. You could have temps in the mid 30's or lows over -20F.
Finally be prepared for potentially snow blizzards. The average for January is 20 inches or so. I've been through a white out in Banff and it was great to watch (from the lodge) but I wouldn't be crazy about driving through it.

Have a great time -- Lake Louise and Banff (if your going there as well) are great anytime of the year.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Peculiar_Investor »

seionage wrote:Good morning, Bogleheads. My wife & I will be leaving soon for a vacation at Lake Louise in Alberta, where lows will be -20 F. Can you all recommend what to wear in that kind of weather? Boots, pants, ear covers, etc? Thank you so much for any advice.
Lake Louise is much nicer in the winter than the summer IMHO. Are you coming for the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival? We were there last year and will be there again this year. Last year there was a Texas ice carving team in the competition. When asked how they practice they answered "fast".

What type of activities do you have planned, because clothing recommendations depend alot on what you will be doing. We find if we're active (hiking or snowshoeing) then we start bundled up, but remove layers as we go.

Without a doubt layers works best. Here's a link from a local outdoor shop, How to stay warm by layering your clothing. The local "joke" is -20 F temperature are a "dry cold", but there is some truth to it. There isn't much moisture in the air and there is generally lots of sunshine, so although -20 F type temperatures are cold, they don't feel as cold as -5 F in eastern Canada/US with all their moist cold.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by livesoft »

Cross-country skiing or snowmobiling?

Sitting in front of the fireplace or standing still out in the snow?
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by alfaspider »

seionage wrote:Good morning, Bogleheads. My wife & I will be leaving soon for a vacation at Lake Louise in Alberta, where lows will be -20 F. Can you all recommend what to wear in that kind of weather? Boots, pants, ear covers, etc? Thank you so much for any advice.
I have have a Mountain Hardware down parka that makes all the difference in that kind of weather. I found the hood portion to be absolutely crucial- put it over a ski helmet with a balaclava and goggles and it feels like being indoors. With that, and a good pair of down mittens (not gloves), I've been skiing in total comfort when the mountain has been cleared out from frostbite warnings.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Peculiar_Investor »

When you get here, just Remember to breathe!
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seionage
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by seionage »

We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by krannerd »

You should dress for the activities that you're planning to undertake while on vacation. Minnesotan here who spends time outside in the winter....and I've got multiple layers of different gear depending on activity.

Basically: layers, layers, layers. Wicking undergarments if you're going to sweat at all (and even if you're not). Wind blocking layer. Cover all exposed skin that you don't want to have freeze and fall off.

Sounds like you're from Texas....not sure if you've been in -20F before....but, it's cold....like "your nose freezes when you inhale" cold.

If you're going to be sitting by the fire and spending minimal time outside (you could get away with less):
--A nice big coat...hopefully rated to -30 or so. Extends down to mid-thigh
--Hat, mittens, scarf (wool or technical fabric)
--Thick socks (wool) and boots
--Wicking underlayer (not cotton)

If you're going to walk around outside, ride a snow mobile, partake in light activity:
--All of the above
--Snow pants and/or long underwear
--Balaclava or other face covering
--Insulated boots

If you're going to be outside for and exercising (cross country skiing, hiking):
--Lighter coat / jacket (but still heavy)
--Eye goggles (wind protection)
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by livesoft »

I would try to borrow clothes from friends who have done cross-country skiing. I have bib tights, upper body layers for all that, and a parka shell. I would have a down parka in my backpack. Mittens are warmer, but I always use gloves. Just buy a souvenir knit cap when you get there. I can't say if you need ski goggles or not, but you had better have some great sunglasses.

My upper body layers would be: long-sleeve polypro undershirt, long-sleeve bike jersey, wool sweater. Then outer vest or parka or shell or 2 of these. These would get used in other Texas situations: Sleep in polypro undershirt. Bike ride in cool weather in bike jersey alone. Wear wool sweater on cool evening outings.

When I go ski camping, I take an outer shell for my legs and long underwear for sleeping.

And Texas is big, so if you are from Corpus that's a whole lot different than if you are from Amarillo.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Peculiar_Investor »

seionage wrote:We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
I wouldn't recommend just plain jeans, they don't keep in the warmth. My preference is a hiking pant, something like these North Face pants. The snow is generally very powdery, so if you are snowshoeing/hiking/cross-country skiing, you probably don't need heavy snow pants, more likely just a water-resistant outer pant layer. I (and others) cannot stress enough the importance of layers.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by obgraham »

Lived many years in the cold of Western Canada, and I've been at Lake Louise and Jasper in February when it went down to -40. I saw Japanese tourists heading out to ski with nothing more than a regular ski jacket.

That's just stupid. You have to respect the weather. If it gets really cold, say below -10F, you need to check very carefully and be sure you have adequate layers for every part of your body. Others here have given good advice. If you don't have them, that's the time to stay inside by the fire, and limit your outside time to just a few minutes.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

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seionage wrote:Good morning, Bogleheads. My wife & I will be leaving soon for a vacation at Lake Louise in Alberta, where lows will be -20 F. Can you all recommend what to wear in that kind of weather? Boots, pants, ear covers, etc? Thank you so much for any advice.
The Chateau has heat. They also do a pretty decent job of cleaning the sidewalks. Don't overthink things.

Mittens are warmer than gloves; a beanie/toque that covers your ears is better than a hat that doesn't; and a scarf helps to warm the air around your face.

Other than that, just wear normal stuff, maybe two layers of shirts (undershirt and your regular shirt), and a jacket slightly thicker than a rain jacket, and you'll be fine.

-20 F really isn't that bad, unless you are out in it for 30+ minutes at a time standing still and there is a 30 mph wind blowing towards your face.

For reference, I lived in Calgary for several years and spent many winter weekends in Banff and Lake Louise. I obviously didn't die from exposure.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Watty »

seionage wrote:We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
It is the cold. Jeans even with cotton long johns will leave you feeling like you are basically naked because the wind will go right through it. Been there done that. Most jeans will not be flexible enough either once have several layers under it.

A good rule of thumb is to not wear anything that is cotton out in extreme cold, especially socks. Even your sweat will get it wet and it will lose all of its insulation and it will freeze.

There are other hazards that you might not be familiar with like "tree wells"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_well

You might want to consider doing downhill skiing or snowboarding at a resort where assistance will be readily available. If you get a few miles into the back-country on cross country skis you will be pretty much on your own. Try to stay in an organized group like a group lesson if you do go deep into the woods.

You do need to be careful.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Random Poster »

seionage wrote:We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
Just saw this post, so I'll add the following:

You need nylon pants with smartwool (or similar) long underwear underneath, paired with smartwool (or similar) socks. Wear a smartwool (or similar) long underwear shirt, a nylon or polyester long sleeve shirt over that, and a breathable but water resistant jacket. Plus the toque, mittens, and scarf (which you will likely ditch after about 20 minutes of skiing). REI has the pants, shirts, and socks that you need...no need to go specifically with the smartwool brand, as REI's stuff is perfectly fine (or better) in some respects.

You can rent equipment (and maybe clothing, although I'm not sure about that) at the Chateau; you can rent equipment at MEC (sorta like an REI) in Calgary if you are member there (small membership fee required), provided that they have availability. If you are going on a weekend, they probably won't.

Cross-country skiing on Lake Louise itself is fun. Last I checked, (pricey) lessons were offered at the Chateau. Snowshoeing is fine if you stay away from the avalanche areas, stay on the trails, and (usually) go towards Lake Moraine. I would not advise trekking up to the teahouses--too much avalanche danger, the hill(s) are steep, and the pathways aren't well defined in the winter. Plus, they are closed, so there won't be much to do once you get there.

Lastly, if you are staying at the Chateau itself, stay on the Gold Floor.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by livesoft »

I own my own snow shoes. I really think there is no point in snow shoeing when you can ski everywhere. Snow shoes are useful in the underbrush where trees are spaced about 3 ft apart, but everywhere else skis are better. It should be obvious that you can't coast downhill on snowshoes like you can with skis.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by bloom2708 »

It was -17 F in Fargo this morning. :oops:

Outdoor activities in that weather are not fun. If there is any wind it would be considered dangerous. Even without the wind, hands, feet, ears, they get cold fast. I shoveled my driveway for about 10 minutes and my hands and feet were very cold.

Start with thin layers and add warmer layers. Make sure you have the option to wear a face mask if you will be outside for extended periods. A hood can block the wind and help create a warmer zone around your head.

15 and -15 are not the same. Have fun. Limit time outside if it is that cold.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Atilla »

All it takes is some wind to make double digits below zero into a whole new level of cold.

It can be perfectly still at zero degrees and I'll stand outside at night in a t-shirt grilling a steak with a beer in my hand. Subtract 15 degrees and add a 20 mph wind and you better have every inch of skin covered.

Duluth Trading makes a fleece jacket that is extremely warm and windproof - I wear it under a winter jacket and can go out in anything.
Hat and face mask
mittens with gloves built inside
a tight fitting long underwear layer (love Underarmour's cold weather exercise stuff)
Lined jeans from Carhartt
Snow pants for over the top and to stop all wind
Real winter boots with felt liners
Thick socks
Disposable handwarmer packs to use as needed
Sunglasses for bright winter days with snow all around - it can blind you.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Peculiar_Investor »

Random Poster wrote:Lastly, if you are staying at the Chateau itself, stay on the Gold Floor.
2nd choice would be to make sure you have a lakeview room. The view is stunning.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by hicabob »

Canadians like their Canada Goose Parkas. $1000 or so but they are warm.

https://www.cdnicons.com/collections/pa ... oCml_w_wcB
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by seionage »

Thank you to EVERYONE for your great advice! All of the info will keep us warm & dry. :happy
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Peculiar_Investor »

Given that Bogleheads understand that costs matter, you are in luck this year. We're celebrating 150 years as a country and from Parks Canada - Banff National Park
Parks Canada wrote:Parks Canada is inviting Canadians and visitors from around the world to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary at our national treasures from coast to coast to coast.

To mark this special year, we’re offering free admission to all Parks Canada locations, and we want you to join us for the celebration.
Early indications are that our national parks are going to be very busy in 2017!
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Colorado13 »

I can't emphasize enough other people's advice to not wear jeans. Just don't do it. I just finished reading Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" and he writes about people freezing to death in 30 degree temps, due to inadequate clothing. He also writes about walking around in damp jeans - it's very uncomfortable to say the least.

-20 is a whole different ballgame, so heed the great advice above and dress in layers. I used to live in MN, ND, and now CO so know a bit about cold. To a Texan, it could feel very very cold, particularly if there is wind. Layer up and have fun.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by whodidntante »

Add layers until you can no longer lower your arms, then consider removing one.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by mt »

Here is what I have worn for cross country skiing at -20 in MT and AK:

Head- lightweight balaclava with hat over it. Cat Crap or other defogger on glasses. Extra hat if first one gets wet from sweat
Hands- lightweight liner gloves with lobster mitts or mittens
Torso- tee shirt/mid weight base layer/light vest/light ski jacket
Legs- brief/wind brief/lightweight baselayer/ XC ski pants (Craft or Sporthill)
Feet- disposable toe warmer/one pair thick socks/ ski boots/neoprene overboot(mine are Rossignol)

Bring puffy coat in pack if you plan on stopping.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Valuethinker »

Just to echo what everyone says about jeans, the worst possible clothes for this weather.

Also the poster re the merits of good long underwear-- I cannot stress enough how important that is.

If you are below 0 F (or -10 say) and there is wind, then you may well need something to cover your eyes (ski goggles, wraparound sunglasses).

when you get below -10F things get hairy. Freezing of extremities is a real risk-- ears, nose, toes, fingers. Double layered gloves and good socks at the very least.

Respect extreme cold. It can kill.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Valuethinker »

Random Poster wrote:
seionage wrote:We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
Just saw this post, so I'll add the following:

You need nylon pants with smartwool (or similar) long underwear underneath, paired with smartwool (or similar) socks. Wear a smartwool (or similar) long underwear shirt, a nylon or polyester long sleeve shirt over that, and a breathable but water resistant jacket. Plus the toque, mittens, and scarf (which you will likely ditch after about 20 minutes of skiing). REI has the pants, shirts, and socks that you need...no need to go specifically with the smartwool brand, as REI's stuff is perfectly fine (or better) in some respects.

You can rent equipment (and maybe clothing, although I'm not sure about that) at the Chateau; you can rent equipment at MEC (sorta like an REI) in Calgary if you are member there (small membership fee required), provided that they have availability. If you are going on a weekend, they probably won't.

Cross-country skiing on Lake Louise itself is fun. Last I checked, (pricey) lessons were offered at the Chateau. Snowshoeing is fine if you stay away from the avalanche areas, stay on the trails, and (usually) go towards Lake Moraine. I would not advise trekking up to the teahouses--too much avalanche danger, the hill(s) are steep, and the pathways aren't well defined in the winter. Plus, they are closed, so there won't be much to do once you get there.

Lastly, if you are staying at the Chateau itself, stay on the Gold Floor.
MEC - Mountain Equipment Co-op is kind of a Canadian institution. Every customer is a "member" so you have to pay a fee. They have great stuff.

All this stuff, especially re long underwear and avalanche danger, is excellent advice.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Valuethinker »

seionage wrote:Good morning, Bogleheads. My wife & I will be leaving soon for a vacation at Lake Louise in Alberta, where lows will be -20 F. Can you all recommend what to wear in that kind of weather? Boots, pants, ear covers, etc? Thank you so much for any advice.
The thing in January is the lows can be -20 (plus windchill) or even lower, but you can also be near freezing (the Chinook winds). It's easy to get *too hot* if exercising as well as too cold, sometimes on the same day!
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Valuethinker »

Peculiar_Investor wrote:Given that Bogleheads understand that costs matter, you are in luck this year. We're celebrating 150 years as a country and from Parks Canada - Banff National Park
Parks Canada wrote:Parks Canada is inviting Canadians and visitors from around the world to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary at our national treasures from coast to coast to coast.

To mark this special year, we’re offering free admission to all Parks Canada locations, and we want you to join us for the celebration.
Early indications are that our national parks are going to be very busy in 2017!
Patrick Watson did a TV show "Witness to Yesterday" a long time ago, in which he interviewed leading historical characters (actors playing).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeksbRt-i-s is Second City's rendition of this ;-).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBGNEJpznNE is Heritage Minute's somewhat glamorous view of it

Sir John A MacDonald, our first Prime Minister (and our 3rd), finished the interview with "Well things were tough then. We had east against west. French against English. American against British. Protestant against Catholic. Farmer against city industrialist. And now?"

Watson: "Well Sir John..."

that' was the end of the episode.

150 years in, what unites Canada is we are still arguing about the same things ;-).
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by jlawrence01 »

The most important thing to draw from this thread is to be very prepared for ANYTHING at Lake Louise.

Honestly, the closest I have ever come to hypothermia was in Lake Louise - in JULY. No kidding.

Layering in Southern Alberta is very important as you need to prepare for the other extreme found in that region - the Chinook wind.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinook_wind
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it's Canada, eh

Post by daveatca »

The same way you would dress for a vacation in Yellowknife.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by DireWolf »

I just finished shopping for gear for my trip to Fairbanks where temps can get down to -40F

- Smartwool socks
- Baffin boots
- Under Armour Coldgear baselayers
- Carhartt arctic bibs
- Fleece midlayers
- Fuerza parka
- Geartop balaclava
- Icebreaker wool beanie
- Smartwool liner gloves
- Ice Armor mittens
- Grabber hand warmers
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by White Coat Investor »

seionage wrote:A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work.
Jeans...ha ha ha. That's good stuff. I occasionally see someone at a ski resort wearing jeans. Always good for a laugh.

Here's a tip. Don't bring anything made out of cotton. Nothing. Synthetic long underwear. Fleece pants and jacket. Goretex shells (top and bottom.) Then a down parka on top of that if below zero. At -20 you'll need pretty much complete skin coverage. Probably goggles too, but maybe not just for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Remember the difference between 20 and -20 is just as big as the difference between 20 and 60.

If you're doing it right, your clothing will cost more than your airfare and lodging.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Watty »

One other thing I remembered. Don't count on anything that uses batteries when it is very cold like a GPS or cell phone. The cold weather will dramatically reduce the battery life and some electronics have temperature limitations too.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Nestegg_User »

In addition to the above clothing, you need GOOD socks ( bring a few pairs),good snow boots and I suggest gaiters as well to keep snow out of your shoes. Definitely layers that wick moisture away and protect any potential exposed skin.

I'm from Colorado originally-- so have camped in 30 below in the high country-- respect the cold-- Hypothermia happens so much faster below about minus ten.





(Watty: I've seen batteries burst in the real cold ; wouldn't be fun to be exposed to that while struggling to get back inside)
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by seionage »

So, this morning, it was 14 F in our part of Texas. Thin patches of snow on the grass are starting to melt, along with some ice on the streets. This is normal for Texas in winter. I have a parka with a hood which is designed for 20 F weather; is this warm enough for Lake Louise, as long as I layer appropriately?... I have some cold weather gear (synthetic thermal long johns, balaclavas, heavy gloves, knit caps) from some time I spent in the mountains of Afghanistan (winter 2010 to winter 2011). Will these be good enough, or do I need to buy replacements?
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by praxis »

seionage wrote:We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
For 50 years, I've used ski pants (bib/shell-type, $30 at Academy and Dicks, over sweatpants) for downhill skiing, but jeans for snowshoeing and cross-country. Unless I'm out over a hour, or the snow is deep, I don't bother with gaiters. My toes get colder snowshowing than either of the other sports so I use thicker socks and wear Sorel-type snowboots. Vigorous exercise heats you up but it's good to have enough warmth to get through yours' or a friend's injury or equipment failure or unannounced snowstorm. There is nothing like down, period. But a top quality fleece top under a windproof shell jacket is almost as good and a much cheaper alternative. Different people have different tolerance for cold.
I gave my son a Lands End Squall jacket (fleece-lined, weatherproof shell) to wear skiing this Christmas over his Patagonia fleece pullover. He was toasty when it got down to 0 degrees skiing down the mountain slope and riding up the ski lift. He had good gloves and bib pants and wore goggles and a helmet. Have fun! That is spectacular country any time.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by praxis »

seionage wrote:So, this morning, it was 14 F in our part of Texas. Thin patches of snow on the grass are starting to melt, along with some ice on the streets. This is normal for Texas in winter. I have a parka with a hood which is designed for 20 F weather; is this warm enough for Lake Louise, as long as I layer appropriately?... I have some cold weather gear (synthetic thermal long johns, balaclavas, heavy gloves, knit caps) from some time I spent in the mountains of Afghanistan (winter 2010 to winter 2011). Will these be good enough, or do I need to buy replacements?
I think you will be ok with that gear. January is one of the two coldest months, however, and I would bring all the layers you mentioned plus a quality fleece pullover and you should be fine. It might not get down to 14 while you're there, but the elevation and latitude make for much colder weather in the Canadian Rockies.
cherijoh
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by cherijoh »

Random Poster wrote:
seionage wrote:We will be snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A bit of hiking, too, I hope. Do we need those ski pants to stay dry? I guess just plain jeans won't work. (I'm from Texas, and this is my first winter vacation not at a beach, LOL. I've never skied before either.)
Just saw this post, so I'll add the following:

You need nylon pants with smartwool (or similar) long underwear underneath, paired with smartwool (or similar) socks. Wear a smartwool (or similar) long underwear shirt, a nylon or polyester long sleeve shirt over that, and a breathable but water resistant jacket. Plus the toque, mittens, and scarf (which you will likely ditch after about 20 minutes of skiing). REI has the pants, shirts, and socks that you need...no need to go specifically with the smartwool brand, as REI's stuff is perfectly fine (or better) in some respects.

You can rent equipment (and maybe clothing, although I'm not sure about that) at the Chateau; you can rent equipment at MEC (sorta like an REI) in Calgary if you are member there (small membership fee required), provided that they have availability. If you are going on a weekend, they probably won't.

Cross-country skiing on Lake Louise itself is fun. Last I checked, (pricey) lessons were offered at the Chateau. Snowshoeing is fine if you stay away from the avalanche areas, stay on the trails, and (usually) go towards Lake Moraine. I would not advise trekking up to the teahouses--too much avalanche danger, the hill(s) are steep, and the pathways aren't well defined in the winter. Plus, they are closed, so there won't be much to do once you get there.

Lastly, if you are staying at the Chateau itself, stay on the Gold Floor.
I'd say you are right on the money except for the wool long johns. IMO wool - even merino wool - gets itchy when you get overheated and therefore isn't a great choice for next to the skin when you are planning to be active. My favorite is Cuddl Duds- despite the cutesy name they do have a men's version. My favorite (for women) is the SoftWear line with Modal Rayon. It is very light weight with good insulating and wicking properties. Top with a middle layer (which could be wool or micro fleece) and then a wind resistant outer layer.
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MichaelRpdx
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by MichaelRpdx »

seionage wrote:Good morning, Bogleheads. My wife & I will be leaving soon for a vacation at Lake Louise in Alberta, where lows will be -20 F. Can you all recommend what to wear in that kind of weather? Boots, pants, ear covers, etc? Thank you so much for any advice.
While in Spain last October we met a couple from the Northwest Territories. They pointed out winter clothing rental is a big business to support their tourism industry. A quick check shows you can do the same where you are going. One example is https://www.skilouise.com/rentals-and-l ... entals.php
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halfnine
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by halfnine »

If you are going to be outside exercising you won't need much in the way of layering. Especially so if you are cross country skiing. For cross country skiing you will definitely not want insulated ski pants. When skiing I prefer my trouser outer layers to be full zip as then I don't have to bother taking skis on and off to remove them. It's also easier to regulate heat by zipping/unzipping if I keep them on. So, anyway, you'll likely want a base layer, a mid layer, and a shell mostly for the wind and snow. Then one huge hooded parka to toss on either for safety or if you plan to be out for a while to put on when you take breaks. Put the parka on immediately when you stop and not when you start to feel cold. And keep your breaks short. Finally, while you are exercising regulate your clothing to make sure you don't overheat and to keep sweat to as little as reasonably possible. Depending on conditions... spare gloves, layering thick mitts over thin gloves, and/or hand warmers might be worthy safety considerations.

On the other hand, I wouldn't hesitate to wear non-technical clothing, jeans, or the clothes of my back if I was just out for a short jaunt and was within a stones throw of civilization.
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seionage
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by seionage »

Watty wrote:One other thing I remembered. Don't count on anything that uses batteries when it is very cold like a GPS or cell phone. The cold weather will dramatically reduce the battery life and some electronics have temperature limitations too.
Watty, I would like to take pictures out there. What would you recommend we use that could function at those temperatures?
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DSInvestor
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by DSInvestor »

seionage wrote:
Watty wrote:One other thing I remembered. Don't count on anything that uses batteries when it is very cold like a GPS or cell phone. The cold weather will dramatically reduce the battery life and some electronics have temperature limitations too.
Watty, I would like to take pictures out there. What would you recommend we use that could function at those temperatures?
Link to page on Winter Photography tips: Protect your gear in extreme cold:
http://www.adorama.com/alc/0008151/arti ... raphy-tips

Keep your Camera safe in sub-zero temperatures:
http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/came ... peratures/
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cantos
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by cantos »

Good advice here. FYI I've taken many people out cross-country skiing. Without fail, over years and years of introducing people to the sport, they always overdress and are too hot. After 15-30 minutes they're peeling off layers, sweating buckets, and having a horrible time.

For x-country skiing all you need is a pair of breathable pants (as someone else said, NOT downhill ski pants - but cross-country ski pants, which is an entirely different animal, or tights are good), a base layer (shirt), midlayer (sweater), and outer jacket (preferably a thin soft-shell jacket that breathes well), a thin hat/beanie/toque, and thin breathable gloves. I often go without an outer jacket. Everything should be breathable, nothing should be waterpoof. As others have said, no cotton.

You should always feel a little cold when you're about to x-country ski. If you're standing outside, warm and comfortable, that's a sign you've overdressed and will be in for a horrible time after 15-30 mins.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Epsilon Delta »

It's not just the right clothing. It's knowing how to use it, and knowing how to identify frost bite and hypothermia in yourself and others, and knowing the difference between discomfort and life threatening situations, knowing how hard you can work before you work up a sweat, and all sorts of other things.

If you don't have the skills by far the most important thing is not to get far from help. Which means staying on well traveled trails with other people, unless you have an experienced and reliable guide. You can tell an experienced and reliable guide because they will check your experience, and if you haven't got any, your equipment, before you leave safety.

There is probably somebody at the resort whose duties include not having guests die, Ski Patrol or Mountain Rescue or similar. Talk to them. Listen to them.
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by Peculiar_Investor »

The OP might want to check the weather forecast for the next week to get an idea of how much it can change in a week. That's yet another reason for suggesting layering as the only approach.

For Calgary, the forecast high today is -18 C (+1 F) and Environment Canada says it could be +11 C (52 F) by Sunday. A mid-January chinook like this is pretty typical.

Of course the forecast is very different in the mountains, here's the forecast for Banff, AB - 7 Day Forecast - Environment Canada, closest site to Lake Louise for Environment Canada's forecasts.
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SQRT
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Re: How to dress for winter vacation in Alberta

Post by SQRT »

Agree what others gave said about layers. If you need to get this stuff, there is an excellent store in the Lake Louise shopping mall called Wilsons. They have really good under and outer wear. Also, make sure you have dinner at the Post Hotel.
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