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Winter wardrobe for Germany, Czechia and Austria

Hi all,

We have never done a winter wonderland type of trip before, and I am wondering what the recommendations would be for boots and base layers (thermal underwear) for outdoors.

Mainly doing Christmas markets and other outdoor sightseeing so lots of outdoor coldness.

We all have triclimate North face or Patagonia jackets.

We have Smartwool socks.

But for layers in that type of cold, damp and maybe wet setting, any recommendations?

Posted by
5286 posts

Ginger, like you I am packing for winter travel from a warmer, clearly non-snowy, home base. I started shopping my favorite thrift stores last year for merino wool and cashmere sweaters, bought short boots with thick treaded soles and merino wool socks at Costco.

We carry Costco rain jackets (sweaters and/ or packable down jackets underneath) for wet weather ... actually, they go on every trip.
Gloves, hats, mufflers. They can also be easily purchased there, possibly easier than finding them in Texas. Practical "souvenirs"
32° tops and tights as base layers.

And if you get cold at the Christmas markets ... hot glühwein!

Posted by
449 posts

Laura, I hadn't thought about thrift stores!

Do you wear the rain jacket over your winter coat? Thanks for the tip about Costco. I'll have a look there.

Posted by
5286 posts

Rain jacket over down jacket or sweaters -- winter parka, which is longer than the rain jacket, when it's cold enough for snow. (Parka was a $35 thrift shop purchase at the end of ski season.)

Posted by
20598 posts

We were in Prague over Christmas and the temp was in the low teens. This how we were dressed on the coldest night (I think it was 9) and were very comfortable. A bunch of light weight layers that can be added or deleted depending on temp. Long underwear top and bottom. Have a pair of synthetic blend pants (water proof) that were lined with a light weight flannel. Wore that most days but added the underwear when it got cold. For the feet, heavy soled walking shoe (ECCO) with a synthetic sock liner and a medium weight merino wool sock. For the top a synthetic blend, t-shirt. Wife prefers a turtleneck but I don't like the extra fabric around the neck, a long sleeve shirt synthetic blend flannel shirt with collar, a medium weight merino wool sweater, a down filled light weight vest, and my standard year around rain jacket/wind breaker with hood. Also gloves, scarf, and wool stocking cap. Wife prefers earmuffs so her hair does get messed up with a stocking cap. She will pull her hood up when it gets really cold. That will handle about anything down to single digit temps. We do not pack heavy winter coats or parkas. The rain jacket are long in the body and have ties so you can close up the rain jacket fairly tight. Everything we use is a synthetic blends. There is saying in the mountains among backpackers, "Cotton kills." Cotton is very poor insulation especially if it gets damp or wet. Therefore we avoid anything 100% cotton. The pants are maybe a 30% cotton blend but no cotton against the skin.

Posted by
211 posts

Layers! I tend to run cold so I really layer up. I prefer silk for the base layer (purchased on sale at Lands End). They also make silk glove liners. Merino wool long sleeve top. Jeans, cords, or lined leggings. Sweater. Raincoat or winter coat, knee- or mid-thigh length. For my feet I am on my second pair of Merrell snow boots, calf height. (I wear them on the plane.) They fit well with merino socks. I've found Costco a good source for merino socks and tops. Usually my feet stay dry, but I like to keep an extra pair of socks in my purse in case they're needed. Have fun-such a festive time to visit these countries !

Posted by
5486 posts

Yes to layers - base, insualtion and weather (wind/rain) barrrier layer and extremities protections (cap, gloves, socks/boots).

Base layer selection is critical to the layering system. See: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/underwear.html
Base layer needs to both insulate and transport moisture away from the skin. If you base layer is too thick for the environment (e.g. museums and cafes) and activity (walking/hiking up hills), you can overheat and get soaked in body moisture.

Posted by
485 posts

Base layer needs to both insulate and transport moisture away from the skin. If you base layer is too thick for the environment (e.g. museums and cafes) and activity (walking/hiking up hills), you can overheat and get soaked in body moisture.

For traveling in this type of environment, we use very lightweight base layers since your moving around both inside and outside. We leave the heavyweight stuff the few times we are just standing around or at an open air venue where we will sitting for a long period of time.

Posted by
449 posts

Ed, do you have recommendations for men's undershirts? The typical V neck ones that many men wear, but are mainly of cotton, and I think that's going to be a big mistake for the outdoors in late December.