Updated: Feb 7
Note: This post is a work in progress, more to come later!
I'm a big proponent of fair-weather travel, but if you plan on (or unexpectedly encounter) cold weather on your travels, here are a few things to keep in mind..
1) You can still pack minimally, albeit with some caveats; if it's really cold, you'll be wearing your heavier items (pants, hats, jackets, etc.) all the time, so you don't have to worry about bag space when you're on the move; and if you're doing laundry every day as I recommend, you'll just be washing the same few things; namely an undershirt, socks and underwear, on a daily basis - the stuff that's not touching your skin shouldn't need to be cleaned with much regularity.
If you know you'll be traveling to warm and cold climates, plan on using the same warm-weather clothes as an under-layer to the bulkier stuff; you get the benefit of an added layer for warmth, and the benefit of still only having to hand-wash a few items each day.
In addition to the warm-weather basics, I add just two or three pairs of long-socks, a pair of thermal long-johns, a light hoodie and a jacket into the mix. On my last winter trip, I packed a cheap, compressible puffer jacket from Amazon, leaving the Patagonia at home, because I didn't want to worry about losing or damaging one of my favorite jackets.
2) If you're traveling long-term, you may want to consider buying cheap winter clothes on the fly, it'll be less expensive than purchasing anything in the States, and you won't feel as tied to those items when you get back to warmer weather; for example, if the first part of your trip is winter in Europe, and the last part of your trip is summer in Southeast Asia, consider planning on shedding your winter gear as the seasons change; you can always donate your clothes when they're no longer necessary, and you can always buy or go thrift-shopping for whatever you need, if the weather turns on you again - many hostels have donation boxes or you can ask a local where to go.
3) If you're traveling to a "cool" but not necessarily "cold" climate, you may just need a set of thermal underwear and a thin hoodie to get you through those chillier days; they take up little space, and, depending on thickness, they'll buy you anywhere from 10-20 degrees of comfort; good enough for fall weather, but maybe not for winter weather.
Do you really need a winter coat to get from the door of your home to your car, and then from your car to the doors of the airport??
4) You may want to ask yourself if you'll even be outside long enough to warrant winter gear; I recently met a girl from Canada who was annoyed that she had to pack her winter coat just to get to the airport on her way to Mexico, where the temps ranged from 75 to 85 every day.. and my first thought was.. Do you really need a winter coat to get from the door of your home to your car, and then from your car to the doors of the airport??
Obviously that's just one instance, and it really wasn't that big of deal, but it's worth thinking about if you're planning for a long trip; if it's really cold out, will you be spending much time outside anyway? Or will you be hopping around in taxis and sticking to indoor activities during those colder months..
Electrically Heated Clothing and Gear
This may sound ridiculous coming from a minimalist blog, and/or if you're not familiar with rechargeable, heated clothing, but as a Minnesota native (with freeeeezing winters) and Colorado resident (cold-ish winters), I can tell you, these are fairly common and great for long periods outdoors (skiing, camping, snowshoeing, etc.).
I can't vouch for the effectiveness of any particular brand, so you'll have to rely on reviews and perhaps some at-home testing; but I wanted to mention it because it's relatively new and maybe it's a perfect fit for your travel plans.
Heated insoles and socks will run you anywhere from $40 to $100 dollars per pair, but if you're willing to recharge them every day, then one or two pairs may be all you need - and they don't take up too much space.
Rechargeable Heated Gloves fall in a similar range, $50-150 per pair, and, of course, you'd only need one set; search "rechargeable heated gloves" on Amazon for options.
Rechargeable Hand Warmers are even better, I use them all the time while snowboarding, or, more likely, watching a live show at Red Rocks. I've used Beskar brand handwarmers, but there are a ton of options on Amazon, search "rechargeable hand warmers" and find a pair that fits your style.
It's easy to go down a rabbit hole on rechargeable clothing, so I'll spare you the pain, but if you're really going all-out on a cold-weather trip, there are plenty of options for heated pants and jackets as well.
More to come soon!