How to pack for both hot and cold climates

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Packing one bag for a multi-climate trip can be a daunting task. Luckily, we’re here to help with our packing list for multiple climates, making it easy, so all you need to worry about is making the most of your upcoming adventure!

packing list for multiple climates - beach

All photo credits are Dustin Cressey

You can easily get an idea of what to pack before you even get started digging through your closet. Here are some general tips to follow before starting the packing process:

  1. Check the weather at all of your destinations. This helps establish a baseline of whether you are going to need a heavy jacket or just a light one for example. There is no sense in lugging along items you won’t need on the road. Every combination of climates is going to need a different variation of items, so don’t rely on just a packing guide and make sure to do a little research and planning.
  2. Use a list! This is such an underutilised way to streamline packing. Start with an idea of what you might want, then expand, and remove items that you won’t. There’s no way you can double pack or forget anything important if you’ve written it down and checked it off.
  3. Pack clothing that can be used in both hot and cold climates! Think of pieces that will be useful in either scenario, so that you can maximise the space you have to pack by avoiding doubles.
  4. Stay organised by using packing cubes. Packing Cubes or organisers are a great way to separate weather-specific items into groups so it isn’t a hassle searching for that one thing that is always at the bottom of your bag. For example, create a cube for hot weather items, cold weather items, and one for general clothing.

How to pack for hot climates

packing list for multiple climates - rock and sea

Packing for the hot weather portion of your trip shouldn’t be much of a hassle. Aim to pack light here so that you can afford space for the bulkier cold weather garments.

  1. Bathing suits are small and don’t take up much space, so if you’re looking to have some variety in your water wardrobe you can usually afford to have a couple different options.
  2. Watch your fabrics. Breathable, moisture-wicking materials work well in hot climates and can be layered up if needed. Synthetic and wool fabrics have come a long way and can keep you cool and protected from the sun without taking up much space. Make sure that your chosen items can mix and match for potential combinations in cooler parts of your trip.
  3. Evaluate what you have packed. For your warm weather clothing, you are going to want to make sure that each item can be worn by itself as well as with the others you have chosen for both climates. This way you will get the most use out of each piece of clothing you decide to bring. After all, space is precious!

How to pack for cold climates

packing list for multiple climates - mountain and snow

  1. Layers are key. Here you can make great use of your lighter clothing by using them in layers. This way, you can remove the need for an extra bulky item by using two lighter pieces instead. So, get out those tech layers we were talking about before and layer up, you can even wear a thin layer under jeans if needed for example. This works great for activities in cooler climates where you might need to shed a layer once you warm up.
  2. Compactable jackets. The actual necessary warmth of your jacket will vary from trip to trip depending on the destination, however, there are many options for lightweight compactable jackets on the market these days. Look for down or synthetic down materials. These materials are great as they can compress up into a very small package, weigh nearly nothing, and do a great job of keeping you warm.
  3. Don’t forget about the accessories. Smaller items such as a good set of gloves, a scarf, and a warm hat can go a long way in keeping your snug, without taking up the much luggage real estate.

What shoes to pack

Shoes are a very important part of our adventure attire, but they can also be some of the heaviest/bulkiest items we travel with. So be practical in what you choose to pack and remember to be realistic in what you are going to need for each climate.

  1. Flip-flops or sandals are a great light option for your warmer destinations and don’t take up much space, plus they double up as shower shoes for your hostel. Toss these in your carry-on if you’re planning on heading straight to the beach.
  2. Good sneakers can go a long way. Sneakers are very versatile; dress them down in warmer conditions or dress them up. Pair your trusty sneakers with warm socks and you can handle most cold weather destinations unless you are planning on doing some serious snow trekking.
  3. If you need to pack something heavier for snowy conditions and are heading to your cold destination first, you might want to wear them on the plane to save the room in your bags as this will also help reduce the risk of those pesky overweight bag charges. Once you’re done with them, pack them away so you don’t have to move them every time you want something out of your bag.

packing list for multiple climates - rock

What to wear on the aeroplane

Your Bags are packed, and your shoes are waiting at the door. What are you going to wear on the plane?

  1. No matter the length of the fight, comfort is always key when flying. I like to fly wearing clothing that I will want to use again on the trip so that I am not wasting space once I arrive, wearing an outfit you like gives you another opportunity to bring an extra option if space is tight.
  2. When doing multi-climate trips you will end up with a variety of shoes and clothing. To reduce the strain on the bags you can wear some of the heavier items and take them off once you board. This works especially well when travelling to a cold destination so that when you arrive you already have your gear ready to go
  3. Remember layering? It works great to here.
  4. Top tip: Even if you’re flying to a warm destination, planes tend to run cold. Always bring (or wear!) a sweater on the plane.

Now that you have a good idea of what you’re going to need to pack for a multi-climate trip, it’s time to get started! Don’t obsess over perfecting your bags if it means ruining your trip. I’m sure every one of us has that special something that we really shouldn’t bring but we always make fit. Happy Travels!

packing list for multiple climates - snow and mountains - orange jacket


About the Author:

Dustin is inspired by the outdoors, adventure, and the wild places in our world. He’s passionate about using photography to share his perspective on life. Check out more of his work on Instagram and Youtube.

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