Firstly, my apologies if this has been covered before. I live in sub-tropical Australia and may have an opportunity to go to Canada for the 2010 Olympics or to visit family for Christmas. I would appreciate advice on what clothing would be needed. Should we bring it or buy locally?
Standard advice is to buy used here, lots of choice and you can leave the stuff behind when you leave No Regrets.
You need a thermal plus things to layer with maybe a wool sweater, a knitted cap, warm sox, gloves, maybe tights wool or silk.
Warm boots! Very important if you'll be outside a lot.
The winter Olympics will be spread out to different regions, so you will find the weather quite different. Vancouver seldom has temperatures below freezing but it can be quite wet (3 to 10C).
For the outdoor events, you will need winter apparel, sun protection, sunglasses, and a toque. In my experience, I don't recall Whistler ever being bitterly cold, but you can expect temperatures of 0 to -10C.
If you buy winter gear in Australia you'll be faced with the problem of having to buy over the internet, most likely through ebay. That means paying shipping fees (often international) and getting a quality that is not really suited to the task. (The definition of "warm winter clothes" varies a lot depending where you live.) Utterly impractical.
Since you'll be visiting relatives I would send them an email with your measurements so that they can organise warm clothing for you. When one of my friends from Israel visited me in Germany in winter we loaned her some of the clothes from my sister. It looked a bit odd, but the things fit my friend well enough to keep her warm. Since she was staying for only 2 weeks it wasn't very economical to buy clothes that she would never wear again.
There are a few tricks to survive the first few hours with nothing but gear from your native region:
- leggings or pantyhose or pyjama pants under jeans
- the jeans you wear should be made of thick cloth (original levy's or something) and long enough to go down all the way over your ankles
- two pairs of tennis socks worn at the same time (if you can get them cheap maybe buy 1-2 pairs of 100 % wool socks in advance)
- if you got them, wear old basketball boots (normal sneakers will do too, but make sure they are waterproof)
- dress in layers, 1 undershirt or tank-top, 1 long-sleeved t-shirt and 1-2 sweatshirts all worn over each other (the more the better, have them in your hand luggage for easy access when you leave the plane)
- rain clothing (snow is wet!)
Any winter gear that might be sensible to get in advance: A thin fleece or wool sweatshirt, you can easily get these in outdoor shops serving hikers and moutaineers, maybe via mailorder. The company "Icebreaker" is good. Look for something that you are going to use in the future at home though or don't bother.
Another good thing to get can be waterproof hiking boots. While most hiking boots are made for summer quite a few people here in Europe wear them as winter gear, combined with wool socks and thermal insoles. As long as you don't have to battle very deep temperatures (below -10 C) and deep snow (up to your hips) hiking boots should work. Buy them now and break them in long before you go - nothing ruins a trip faster than uncomfortable shoes. This makes a lot of sense if you hike at home anyway and thus would still use the boots after the trip to Canada.
EDIT: If you buy hiking boots, make sure they are large enough to be worn with thick socks and thermal insoles. Place some normal non-thermal insoles in them and wear tennis socks when you try them on.
[ Edit: Edited on Dec 18, 2008, at 11:15 AM by t_maia ]
It depends which area you're going to with regards to the cold. I can offer the following advice as I am going to South America (summer) directly after Canada (-8 at the mo) with an extremely limited backpack: layer, layer, layer.
I have 2 northface jackets which sit on top of each other - the one underneath is called the Windwall which stops wind through to your skin. Northface jackets seem to be expensive here but not the rest of the fleeces and accessories (wierd!) - or maybe that's because I'm in a small town.
I also have a neck gaiter, gloves, hat and a good pair of waterproof boots, woollen hiking socks x 3 pairs. Oh, and some thermal leggings just in case to layer underneath my jeans. I have found that jeans that hang too long are likely to get snow on the ankle ends which then lands up just being wet.
Saying that, Canada is good with heating if you are indoors and I like hanging around in a long-sleeved teeshirt. - A fleece to throw over the top would not go amiss. You may consider going for a northface jacket that is slightly more expensive and has a removable fleece zipped inside. (good shoes and jacket is worth the investment. cold=miserable!)
I'm going to be in Canada on my 1yr WHV starting June, so I'll get to experience all seasons of the country But seeing as you're arriving in winter from the Aussie summer, I'd say just take one set of winter clothing and buy what you need in Canada. You need something to start yourself off with, and I'm sure a quality jacket will be invaluable....but if its clothing thats unlikely to be of any use to you in Aussie, then buy it cheaply in Canada and leave it behind