Now that winter is here, it's time to think carefully about warmth and insulation as part of my travel outfits. My secret to travel comfort during cold, winter weather is layering correctly. Not only can the right layers mean the difference between cold and comfort, but they are the secret to more versatility in my outfits - especially when I'm traveling with only a carry-on (basically always).
Here's how I organize my packing list to pack as light as possible.
Everyone would agree that big, bulky coats are just about the worst item to have to drag along on a trip. They take up all your space! Unless absolutely necessary, I leave my winter coat at home. I instead pack a light or medium weight coat (good by itself for 50 degrees) that folds or rolls easily in small spaces. I wear this over my other layers for short trips outside (in the car, walks, heading out to eat, etc.). Packability here is the key idea.
A critical upper body layering piece for me is the sweater or hoodie to keep me warm in moderately cold and cool environments. Now, bear in mind that "environment" can mean outdoor AND indoor conditions. This is the cozy but stylish top I will be seen in most often during any portion of the trip - I want to fall asleep in it while sitting on the plane, wear it out to meet friends, or simply keep warm in it after entering any building. I typically have 3-4 such options with me on a short trip, which allows me to change up my outfit by just altering the top combination with whatever pants I have.
I always choose the innermost layer for both softness and the ability to withstand long hours of constant wear. Bamboo and bamboo silver ion shirts are my new go-tos for this inner layer. It's unbelievable how much softer these fabrics are than any other, they look great even after 10+ hours of wear, and their odor resistant capabilities are unmatched. I'll give an example. During our recent team trip to Tahiti I wore the bamboo silver ion long sleeve t-shirt for 12 hours on the outbound flight, stuffed it in a bag with a broken rum bottle, "washed" it in salt water, and wore it back home on the plane again. No smell! Suffice to say, if you need to shed the other layers when inside, you want to be looking fresh for any situation. I prefer several long and short-sleeve (depending on how cold it is) shirts in black for this layer to be able to mix and match with any other colors.