Planning to visit Europe in winters, you should prepare yourself for subzero temperatures. If you come from warm countries like India, make sure you prepare well.
In general buying winter wear in India will be much cheaper but then good quality winter wear is not readily available here. I have put together some options to buy winter clothing towards end of blog.
I did extensive research to understand the right clothing needed for European winter and here i am putting together my findings.
Layered Clothing : Just google once Europe winter clothing and you will find hundreds of articles on layered clothing, after all it’s the key to handle harsh winters. One of the key part of layered clothing is that you add more layers if you feel cold and remove layers if you are inside a building which is centrally heated. Comparing this to a big bulky warm Jacket, it will make things difficult to manage. Layered clothing mainly consists of 3 parts base layer, Middle layer and Outer shell.
Base layer plays a key role in retaining body heat and also to keep wicking out any sweat. If base layer doesn’t wick out sweat then you will start feeling cold as sweat will start absorbing body heat. Someone asked me “why will you sweat in base layer”, well so as you travel you will walk and with base layer retaining body heat, you will sweat a bit as it body would want to release some excessive heat. So wicking away sweat is a very important quality of base layer and best fabric for base layer is wool or to be specific Merino wool. Synthetic fabrics like Polyester also work as base layer but from my experience they work well only if you don’t walk much.
Middle layer’s job is to further retain heat and keep wicking out the moisture released by base layer. Also when you go inside building you will remove coat or outer shell and middle layer will represent your style quotient. So middle layer is like a milder form of base layer but better looking clothes. Synthetic fabrics like Polyester, Nylon or mixed fabrics form best middle layers.
Outer layer is like a shell which protects you from wind, rain and like with all other layers is breathable i.e keeps wicking the moisture out. It is very important to have a good outer shell else it will spoil all the good work done by base/middle layer and make you feel cold. Also want to emphasise that its not the sub zero temperature which makes you feel cold, its the wind/rain and when they both come together you need to ensure all layers work perfectly. If its not raining then Long coat or Down jacket are my favourite but if it rains then a multi layered synthetic jacket is what i look for.
One word of caution is that cotton doesn’t fit in any of these layers simply because cotton doesn’t retain much heat and its not a breathable fabric.
Trousers : A normal jeans should be fine for winters but it should be tight else cold air will get in between making you feel cold. Again wind/rain will change whole equation, so preference would be water repellent jeans [ Levi’s has come up with some]. If you are going in snow then jeans is a big NO because if you manage to get it wet then it will make your life miserable or even make you fall sick, so my preference is Ski pants for snow. Ski pants are water repellant and have good number of pockets. Also body thermals can help, if it gets very cold and windy .
Shoes : Shoes should be ankle high boots and should be made of breathable material. Best material for winter boots if Gortex but its quite expensive. If you are just staying in city and will not be walking on snow then simple hiking shoes will also suffice but if its wet and cold or if you are on snow then poor quality of shoes will make your feet quite cold. A pair woollen socks is a must along with boots, you can add layers of socks as required.
Gloves : If you are just going to be in city and its not raining or windy then you wont even need gloves, just putting hands in coat or Jacket will do the job. But if you are going in snow or in wind/rain, you will require good gloves. Biggest problem with gloves is that you cannot operate camera or mobile once you wear them and have to repeatedly take them off to click pics and in doing so i lost my glove in middle of a snowy mountain :(, it was costly loss as i had to shell out good fortune to urgently buy new gloves there. Best approach is to buy gloves with a little cap on top of Index finger and thump, that way you will not have to take off gloves. Another option is to tie some conductive thread on Index finger which will help you to operate mobile phone. In case very cold conditions like glaciers, one can wear layer of gloves. Same principle of clothing layers apply to gloves as well. Merino wool is the best material for warm woollen gloves.
A woollen cap and a good Scarf will also be needed. So don’t forget to carry them along.
There will be days you may not need to wear all warm stuff but then there will be days when each and every bit of warm layer will be needed. So prepare well as weather can always change. And if gets windy then get ready for some fun!!
Following are some links where you can find some of above mentioned stuff:
- You can lots of stuff at Decathlon : https://www.decathlon.in/
- Woollen wear provides some cheap and good options to get some good woollen stuff: https://woollen-wear.in/
- Ali express is the place where you can get anything manufactured in the world, i brought these gloves : https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Good-Quality-Photographic-Waterproof-Winter-Keep-Warm-Accessories-Anti-Slip-Camera-Shooting-Gloves-for-Canon-Nikon/32792554440.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.eFeuzR
- Columbia stores are good places to buy but in India they don’t have much variety and are expensive.
- “Adventure 18” store in Satya Niketan near Venkateshwara college, is i heard a lot of but it didn’t meet my needs.
- Tibetan market near ISBT is of no use just avoid it.
- Amazon also provides lots of options but generally expensive as most come US stores. So i prefer Ali express but it takes 2–3 weeks to get delivery.