New Year, New Gear – Embracing Winter in Vancouver

Photo: Flickr, Peter So

Outdoorsy folk will often quote a popular phrase, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” When it comes to staying warm and dry throughout unpredictable Vancouver winters, I must agree! Situated in a coastal, temperate rainforest, adjacent to the spectacular Pacific ocean, Vancouverites enjoy relatively mild winters. However, our extraordinary Douglas Firs are some of the largest trees in the world for a reason – RAIN! It is true; our beautiful city has one of the wettest and foggiest climates in all of Canada. However, if you love trails and the elements, with a little bit of strategic shopping, you can embrace countless outdoor adventures during our winter months!

Photo: Rob Weiss

Layers, layers, layers! Dressing for outdoor activity means selecting clothing which can be adapted to deal with changing temperatures, moisture levels, wind and of course your level of activity. Ultimately the goal is to stay warm, dry and happy! With that in mind, here are a few items you need to gear up for Vancouver Winters:

  •  Base Layer – think high-tech long Johns. Choose a fabric that will “wick” moisture off your skin.
  •  Mid Layer – think fleecy. Your mid layer should add insulation to help trap heat and keep you warm.
  •  Outer Layer – think shell or rainwear. Your outer layer should protect you from the elements by blocking wind and precipitation. For optimum comfort select something that is breathable.
  • Socks – outdoor activity is tough on the feet, so spend a little extra and upgrade from your basic all-cotton tube sock.
  • Hats – think toques. Quintessentially, Canadian, your toque will prevent heat loss from the top of your head.
  •  Footwear – investing in a quality pair of high-performance waterproof hiking shoes or boots is money well spent. From hiking to snowshoeing a waterproof and breathable membrane will keep your feet dry while letting your sweat escape. For added comfort consider purchasing gators.
  • Gloves – there are countless waterproof and wind resistant gloves on the market. Choose a pair based on your planned activity, and the length of time you intend to be outdoors.
  •  Umbrella – while not suited for the trails, an umbrella is a must when exploring our beautiful city on foot.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Of course, should you be considering back-country travel, be well-prepared, and avalanche trained. The North Shore Search and Rescue website features several resources full of tips and tricks for safe back-country exploration. And never leave home without the Ten Essentials.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Now get outside and embrace the elements!

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3 Responses to New Year, New Gear – Embracing Winter in Vancouver

  1. Tina

    This is a great! Very informative especially for travelers who aren’t familiar with Vancouver weather conditions.

  2. Kristin A Harell

    Thanks, Jane. The article is good. So happy I came across this.
    This Christmas I visited a cousin studying in UBC. Found this website: http://suitesatubc.com/accommodations/west-coast-suites/providing good suites at cheap rates. I took a campus tour too as I am planning to join the university for having my English graduation and later on further it by a Masters in Media. I had a good stay and loved the tour and weekend activities that I enjoyed with my cuz, Lizzie.

    • Jane Weiss

      Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay in Vancouver and tour of UBC!