Epic Winter Gear Guide for Women 2021

Winter Gear Guide for Women

Stay warm this winter with our Women’s Gear Guide. Sometimes buying gear for ourselves instead of our children is hard, so we put it off for several seasons. The result is that we end up cold, uncomfortable, or just wearing holey snow pants or our husband’s jacket. Its time to find yourself the gear you need!

We have rounded up our favorite layers to keep you active and comfortable all winter long. We’ll be updating this guide throughout the season, so check back often!

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Basic Tips for Enjoying Winter Outside

Layers Are Vital

Layers are preferable to one warm garment. Multiple layers allow you to quickly adjust your clothing to your activity level and weather. Ideally, you should plan to have three layers for cold weather. The first layer, the base layer, should wick moisture from your body. This lightweight layer will keep you dry when playing outdoors.

The second layer is your insulating layer. It’s primary goal is to capture and retain your body’s heat. This looser fitting layer provides warmth for your winter activities. Sweaters, fleece, vests, and even down jackets can be part of this midlayer. The middle layer may actually consist of multiple layers of insulation, such as a wool sweater and a down jacket.

Protecting you from the elements, the outer layer — or shell — stops wind, snow, and rain from damping your fun. This layer should be waterproof, windproof, and breathable.

The Tales of a Mountain Mama team wrote a post on layering for kids. The post is worth a read, especially if you are new to a cold climate. It was written towards kiddos, but it applies to adults as well!

A woman in winter layers with pack stands outside a snow covered cabin. Skis are leaning against the cabin.
Lots of layers kept Team Member Becky Trudeau comfortable during her family’s ski-packing adventure.

Avoid Cotton Outdoors

When it comes to selecting outdoor gear, avoid cotton! Even thick cotton sweaters and socks can spell disaster in the winter. Cotton absorbs moisture and traps it next your skin. In the best of circumstances, cotton becomes cold and clammy. But if you spend any extended time outside in cold conditions, it can increase your chance of getting hypothermia.

NOLS wrote a concise and helpful post on when (and when not) to wear cotton in the outdoors. Definitely worth a look.

Bottom line: Save your cotton sweaters for indoor use.

Bulky Does Not Equal Warm

When the temperature drops, it’s tempting to cocoon yourself in the thickest garment you can find. But if your goal is to be warm, this can be counter productive. Bulk does not equal warmth.

Several factors influence a fabric’s ability to keep you warm. First is insulation. The tightness of the knit or weave can influence a fabrc’s insulation value.

A garment can be bulky but not insulate well, either becasue it is made with a loose weave (or knit) or its material does not insulate well. If the threads making the fabric are close together, then the garment will trap more heat. If the weave or knit is looser, than it will not insulate as well.

Material also contributes to insulation. Some of the best materials for insulation are wool, down, polyester fleece, and polyester fill.

Other factors also influence the real feel of a garment’s warmth. For example, a dry sweatshirt might be cozy. But if it is damp, it’ll quickly feel chilly. Wind resistance and breathablity can also make a garment more comfortable and feel warmer.

Thrifty Winter Gear Tips

  • Any old fleece or wool sweater may be a midlayer. Even if it has a few holes, it will still keep you warm.
  • Shop secondhand.
  • Shop sales.
  • Use a raincoat as a hardshell.
  • In warmer winter conditions, for aerobic activity, water-resistant hiking pants may double as a soft shell.
  • Check out this post on affordable outdoor gear!

Warm, Wicking Base Layers for Women

A base layer traps warm air next to your skin, keeping you warm. It is also designed to be breathable so that it lets sweat evaporate.

This inner layer of clothing should be light because its primary job is to draw your sweat away from your body. By staying dry, you will be able to play outside longer and safer.

Wool Base Layers for Women

Most of our team loves wool base layers. Merino wool retains its heat, even when wet. This natural, biodegradeable fabric moves moisture away from the body and can regulate body temperature. Amazingly, it also resists body odor!

Wool does come with a few downsides. It usually has a high price tag. Wool requires thoughtful handling in the wash (although modern wool is very washable) and eventually degrades over time.

Some people with sensitive skin may find all wool products itchy. But don’t assume that’s you if you have found some wool to be itchy in the past. Instead, try merino wool. Merino wool has small, soft fibers and doesn’t irritate most people.

Ridge Merino Base Layers

Ridge Merino is a newcomer to the merino wool world, but their stuff is solid and gets fantastic reviews. They have worked hard to create wool clothing that is durable, comfortable, and functional.

We have tested out the Ridge Aspect High Rise Base Layer Bottom, and were impressed by several features. First, for a base layer, these feel like they could also be a legging or tight. They are very fitted, so they don’t sag or bunch up.

The wool is substantial enough that it is warm, even when worn alone on raw, wet, cold days. The high-rise waist is a fantastic feature–it totally prevents having a “cold back” when bending over or moving actively.

Because of the semi-compressive fit and high rise waist, these bottoms run a little small for their size. If you are between sizes and don’t want a compressive fit, you should size up.

I have been a fan of wool for outdoor adventures ever since I moved back to Vermont. However, one of my pet peeves with wool is that the softer it is, the easier it tends to get snagged, creating holes and damage.

When I tried the base layers from Ridge Merino, I was quite impressed by how durable they felt. Somehow they have managed to blend durability with softness, which makes me an instant fan. I like that the top and bottoms can be worn as standalone garments, but also layered under other clothing.

-Rita Muller, TMM Team Member

WildRye Merino Base Layers for Women

Wild Rye’s base layers are 100% merino wool, come in super fun designs, AND are available in sizes 4-18. We love that the pants have a wide waist-band so they stay in place, and come in a cropped 7/8 length.

The base layers can be worn as a layer OR on their own with a cute skirt.

Kari Traa Base Layers

Kari Traa base layers are another team favorite. These 100 percent wool base layers come in lots of beautiful patterns and colors. We love that they have a fit contoured to the human body.

I love Kari Traa base layers. The prints are SO fun and I find myself wearing them as regular clothes and not just base layers. My favorite and most worn piece is the Rose Wool Hoodie. A hood I actually use regularly when windy or extra cold!

— Calisa Kastning, TMM Member

Synthetic Base Layers for Women

Compared to wool, synthetics tend to be less expensive, more durable and quicker drying. They are easy to wash and dry.

Synthetics primarily keep you dry by wicking moisture away from the body, but also rely on your own body temperature to finish evaporating the sweat. As a result, they may feel clammy. The synthenics also trap and retain body odors easily.

Under Armour Mock Neck ColdGear

Under Armour was originally designed for football players who would sweat through their cotton shirts. The company continues to craft clothing designed for atheletic performance. Their ColdGear line is designed to keep you warm and dry without the bulk.

While it is prone to smell, like all synthitec gear, the newest garments now have anti-microbial properties that help reduce odors.

For years, I have worn and loved Under Armour’s Mock Neck ColdGear on the coldest days. While the shirts are an investment, they last. Mine is ten years old and still warm … even if a bit stained.

— Becky Trudeau, TMM Member

Alpine Fit Backcountry Base Layer Bottoms

The winner of Title Nine’s pitch fest, Alpine Fit makes synthetic base layers woven with SILVER! The silver fabric helps control odor. We love that there are multiple size options available.

A woman wearing Alpine Fit base layers holds a mug of coffee while siting in front of a fireplace.

I find myself quite particular to annoying seams and tags in pants. From the moment I put on the Alpine Fit Women’s Backcountry Baselayer Bottoms in the Wild Iris fit, I knew these were going to be pleased by not having to cut out tags, readjust or simply not being to wear due to seams in the wrong places or elastic waistbands too tight, etc.

I noticed right away how comfortable the seamless, thick, and high waistband felt. It stayed in place during activity and was easy to tuck in a shirt.

The sterling fabric (contains silver and helps with eliminating odor) truly felt like butter! Having a warm base layer that eliminates odor and feels like a second skin truly can’t be beat!

— Calisa Kastning, TMM Member

Patagonia Midweight Capilene

Patagonia Capilene has been a standard in the outdoor industry for generations. These base layers are durable, ultra warm, and have an excellent guarantee. These base layers are so high quality that you might be handing them down to your kids!

Base Layers for Women Comparison Chart

Baselayer comparison chart

Mid Layers for Women

Mid layers help insulate the core and allow you to adjust your layers to achieve maximum comfort. Many of our favorite mid-layers are our favorite fleece sweatshirts or wool sweaters. These can be found in many styles and stores.

Down and down alternative jackets and vests skirt the line between mid and outer layers. On a clear, cool day they can be worn as an outer layer, but they could also become an inner layer when the temperature drops and the snow falls.

Fleece Mid Layers

Patagonia Re-tool Snap-T Fleece Pullover

For those of us that want to feel warm, fuzzies, try the Patagonia Re-tool Fleece pullover. This fleece is a favorite for several of our team members for its style, warmth, and teddy-bear vibes. Becky wears her everywhere and nearly every day.

Warning: Wearing it might get you extra hugs.

Stio Sweetwater Fleece Hoodie

Stio’s sweetwater collection has a super cozy inside and a sweater-knit face. It’s a staple for locals in Jackson, WY for good reason. We love the heavy weight, the thumbholes, and the generous hood.

L.L. Bean Airlight Full Zip Hoodie

Sometimes a full zipper is really nice to have when layering. This full zip hoodie from L.L.Bean is designed to be warm while also feeling ultralight.

The fleece is designed in a specialized weave that traps the air but also creates less bulk. This fleece comes in great colors and the sizing runs true to size, if not slightly big.

A woman dressed in a Patagonia sweater and her son sword fight with sticks while out in the woods.
Patagonia’s Re-Tool Snap-T Fleece exudes a cozy, cuddle-able vibe — even in during a sword fight.

Insulated Vests

Down vests are prefect for high-output cardio activity because they keep the core warm while allowing the arms to breath. In the fall, they may be worn as a light layer and in the winter as a midlayer.

lululemon Another Mile Vest

The Another Mile Vest from lululemon is a great choice for chilly, winter runs. It has insulation in the front, with panels for ventilation. Because of its synthetic insulation it has a low-profile appearance and looks less “puffy” than down vests.

It also has a special phone pocket inside of the zippered pocket. This special sleeve is great because it keeps your phone from bouncing around during a run.

Give’r Downright Vest

If classic design and lots of warmth is your preference, try the Give’r Downright Vest. The bottom cinches closed to keep your body’s warmth close to your core, and its drop back panel warms the bum.

The vest is crafted from high quality fabric and filled with goose down. Because its heavy-duty fabric translates into a heavier, non-packable vest, it isn’t ideal for backpacking or backcountry skiing.

The unisex styling and sizing give it cool a “borrowed from the boys” appearance, but it also means it runs large. Make sure you size down two sizes, if buying for a woman.

Give’r sizing is generous, even for unisex sizes. However, the extra roomy fit makes it ideal for layering over bulky sweaters or coats.

Patagonia Los Gatos Vest

Super soft and warm, this vest is another great layering piece. It comes in 9 different colors and has a flattering slightly-fitted shape.

Like many Patagonia pieces, it runs small, so if in doubt size up! And plan on everyone hugging you – it’s crazy soft!

Team Member Rita demonstrating that the Another Mile Vest works as well for apple picking as it does for running
Team member Becky fall hiking in the GIve’r Downright vest.

Down or Down Alternative Packable Coat

A lightweight, packable puffy provides amazing warmth and versatility. These can be worn with only a base layer during bluebird days or layered under a shell for water protection and additional heat.

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pullover

Enlightened Equipment manufacturers high quality down quilts, jackets, and other gear right here in the United States. They are known for making super light and super warm products that are beloved by backpackers and hikers.

The Torrid Pullover from Enlightened Equipment is basically a feather light furnace. This pullover weighs less than half a pound, but it will help keep your core toasty warm.

The front pocket on this pullover is insulated, making it a cozy place for your hands or phone on frigid days. The smooth nylon exterior makes layering easy as a top shell will just slide right over it.

This jacket is custom, so you get to choose both your interior and exterior colors.

Pack It Down Jacket

In our opinion, puffy coats for active women should fit closely and be packable. They should be warm, able to wear alone but layer-friendly. The Pack It Down Jacket from lululemon does all that with style.

This down jacket is a great choice for women who want the warmth of down but don’t want to look like a marshmallow. Available in seven different colors.

Jack Wolfskin DNA Tundra Hoodie

A featherweight, highly breathable down jacket that’s warm, versatile and made from 100% recycled materials. Wide RDS-certified duck down filled baffles and a combination of two windproof and water-repellent fabrics block out wind and cold. 

Quilted “Bum Warming” Skirts

We love cute down, wool blend, or fleece skirts. They are easy to throw over a pair of running leggings, and help you go from winter workout to the store or school pick up line with ease. Plus they keep your bum warmer and even work great for runs on those truly frigid days.

Smartwool Smartloft 60 Skirt

This skirt is unique because it is insulated with wool fibers instead of down. The fibers are sewn into nylon baffles for wind resistance. The entire skirt is then lined with a wool knit.

A woman sits on a stump in the woods while holding a book.
Quilted skirts are perfect for protecting your seat from bumpy stumps or soggy snow.

This Smartloft 60 Skirt from Smartwool is one of my favorite winter wardrobe items. It has insulation in the right places, is short enough so it’s not confining, and it has POCKETS!

– Rita Muller, TMM Member

Bun Warmer Skirt

The inventor of the down skirt, Skhoop, offers a range of comfy down clothing, including vests and pants. The Bun Warmer (sold at Title Nine) is a favorite with stretchy sides to allow easier movement, cute colors, and a poly-fill to warm even when it gets wet.

“I barely go a day without wearing a Skhoop down skirt. I love their down vests for warmth from core to booty!”

— Calisa Kastning, TMM Member

Off the Grid Skirt

Sometimes down skirts limit motion just a bit since the outer fabric has no give. The Off the Grid skirt solves that with a cozy fleece interior, water resistance face and comfy elastic waist.

Insulated Puffy Pants

When the weather drops from below freezing to Antarctic cold, one of our Alaskan team members loves to layer insulated pants under her snow shell.

Helly Hansen Liftaloft Full Zip Insulated Trousers

These Helly Hasen Lifaloft Full Zip Insulated Trousers may be worn under ski pants or over. The full zipper allows them to be easily removed if worn over snow pants — a great advantage for athletes who want to stay warm before an event.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Pant

If you wish your down jacket would fit over your legs, Mountain Hardware is your fairy godmother and the Ghost Whisperer Pant is your wish come true. This packable, lightweight down pant is designed to keep your lower half as comfortable as your upper.

Backcountry Hotpants

Skhoop doesn’t JUST make skirts. These pants are insulated, but easy to move in thanks to their breathable stretch panels on the sides. They come in three different colors. While they do have a zippered hem to fit over ski boots, they unfortunately don’t come in lengths, so are tough for shorter or taller gals.

Active Winter Leggings for Women

Some items defy the base-, mid-, outer-layer paradigm. This particular true in the world of leggings and pants. Recently, some companies have begun creating leggings with mixed fabrics. These hybrids offer more water resistance than ordinary leggings, but they have more breathability than soft shell pants.

lululemon Keep the Heat Tights

In cooler weather, Lululemon Keep the Heat Tights provide both breathablity and warmth. Their soft wool blend is comfortable as a baselayer or on a short run. While the ribbing is fun, it may pill over time. As always with Lululemon, expect to size up.

Title Nine Crash 2.0 Polartec Leggings

These fleece-lined leggings are a team favorite! The Title Nine Crash Polartec Leggings are composed of two layers. The external layer is tightly woven to block wind and some moisture, while the inner layer wicks sweat from the body. This style can easily shift from coffee dates to snowboard runs to cross country skis.

Oiselle Bad Weather Flyout Tights

If you love to go for runs in slush and snow, or if Nordic skiing in bad conditions is your jam, then these tights might be for you. Oiselle designed the Bad Weather Flyout Tights to keep you warm and comfortable in all the conditions that winter throws at us.

Made with two different types of fabric, they put waterproof panels on the thighs and a compressive, fleece backed fabrics on the legs and bum. Complete with zippered pockets. Sounds like the perfect tights to defy the cold.

These are my favorite winter tights hands-down. They are comfortable, really do keep me warm and protected from the wind and perfect for under skirts too.

Amelia Mayer – TMM owner
TMM Team member Kristin skiing in T9’s Crash Tights

Winter Hybrid Pants for Women

Cold Killer Pants

If you easily overheat during cross country skiing, Title Nine’s Cold Killer Pants offers weatherproof on the front panel but a warm knit back panel. I love that it comes in a variety of lengths!

Snow Slayer Pants

If you except to wipe out while snowboarding or plan to run through snow drifts, T9’s Snow Slayer pants are a better choice. These pants are similar to T9’s Cold Killer pants but have additional water resistant panels on the seat and ankle.

Alpine Air Joggers

These pants are the item for you ladies who like joggers more than leggings. Made of an ultra cozy, technical fleece, the Alpine Air Joggers from Title Nine are designed to trap air when you are cold, but also release the heat as you warm up.

Designed to be very warm, they are going to be great for cold morning jogs, dog walks, and even layered under a pair of shell pants for skiing. They have quickly become the pants that our team reaches for on a daily basis.

Active Leggings and Hybrid Pants Comparison Chart

Active leggings and hybrid pants chart

Water Resistant Soft Shell Pants for Active Snow Sports

Want full body water resistance in a light, flexible pant? Try soft shell pants. These are ideal for back country touring, hiking, and cross country skiing.

Soft shell snow pants should be waterproof, or at least water resistant, and have zippers or breathable panels to allow you to dump some of body heat when needed. Many soft shell pants have a thin fleece lining to keep you comfortable but they may be layered over base layers.

Stio Pinedale

Stio Pinedale is a soft shell pant which truly excels. Its blend of polyester, nylon, and spandex breathes and moves easily but protects you from water and cold conditions.

The fit is flattering but slightly loose to accommodate base layers. It has several deep, zippered pocks on the front, but none on the back which keeps the silhouette smooth. Perfect for Nordic skiing or winter fat biking.

PrAna Halle Pants

DWR treated hiking pants may double as a soft shell in most conditions. These pants are not as well insulated as the others on the list but combined with baselayers, can be a good option for high-output winter fun in mild weather. Also check out Prana’s Winter Halena pant (thicker, but not available in lengths).

I wear PrAna Halle Pants as a soft shell outer during cross-country ski trips. These stretchy pants resist water, and because mine is a little loose, I can easily layer them over base layers. I love being able to reuse my hiking gear for winter wear.

– Becky Trudeau, TMM Member
Woman cross country skiing with her son in Halle pants

Craft Sportswear Glide Pant

Craft Sportswear is known for making layers that perform awesome in winter aerobic sports. These soft-shell, jogger style pants work well for Nordic skiing, fat biking, or winter running.

Where these pants really shine is in Nordic skiing. On a really cold day, wear these over a base layer. On a warmish day, wear them alone. The ventilation behind the knees works great for heat management and the softball panels totally keep you dry.

Note: Craft garments tend to run small, so order up if in between sizes.

Winter Outer Layers for Women

The options for outer layers has exploded in recent years. The primary choices are an insulated jacket and snowpants or bibs or a hardshell with an insulating coat.

An insulated jacket may be a perfect for you if you plan to ski or snowboard at resorts or do any low activity winter activities, like sledding. These resort classics provide winter warmth without having to mess with two or three coats. The best jackets and bottoms provide insulation with a waterproof exterior and a lightweight construction. Look for extra details, like pit zips to help adjust your temperature on the go.

An increasing number of snow sport enthusiasts are shifting from insulated jackets in favor of a down/down alternative or other warm coat topped with a hardshell. This two coat system allows for a person to tailor their layers for the conditions they face.

A good hardshell may also have pit zips and other features typical of an insulated jacket. Because of its versality, we recommend this type of jacket for most outdoor winter sports.

Insulated Ski Jackets

Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Pants and Jacket

A good insulated snow jacket and pants are an investment, but they can often last years. Team Member Jessica Floyd’s ski kit has lasted a decade of PNW cold, damp winters! She wears Patagonia’s Insulated Snowbelle Pants and Jacket.

This resort-friendly jacket and bottom has a waterpoof and breathable two-layer exterior. Inside, it is lined with 92% recycled polyester fill. An articulated fit helps increase mobility and pit zips allow you to dump the heat when needed. The jacket weights 31.1 ounces, which is lighter than many ski/snowboard jackets.

Stio Double Charge Insulated Jacket and Pants

Stio offers the Doublecharge Insulated Jacket designed to be lighter than most (29 ounces) but still keep you warm when riding the chair lift. This jacket has a waterproof, GoreTEX exterior, and an insulated interior. With lots of zippered pockets, you should be able to keep track of your cell phone and your lift pass.

Woman wearing Stio pants on ski slope
Stio’s Double Charge Snow Pants provide lightweight warmth for long chairlift rides and fast downhills.

“My Stio Doule Charge Snow Pants are both light and warm. They feel comfortable even on cold skiing nights and feel more attractive than most snow pants.”

— Becky Trudeau, TMM Member

Rab Xenair Alpine Insulated Jacket

The Rab Xenair Alpine Insulated Jacket can be used as an outer layer or a mid layer. The outer layer of fabric prevents wintery winds from chilling and has some water resistance. It is, however, not designed to handle downpours or soggy snow, but in most dry or damp conditions this jacket will keep you toasty. The Primaloft Gold Activate insulation will retain heat and help your body regulate its temperature. We like the helmet-compatible hood, insulated zipper and articulated arms.

In summary, the Rad Xenair Insulated Jacket provides an affordable option for fair-weather adventures who love cold, bluebird days.

Hardshell Jackets

A hardshell jacket provides waterproofing and weatherproofing. While similar to a rain jacket, these shells are heavier, more durable, and designed to handle everything winter can throw at them.

Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket

Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket gets rave reviews for its warmth and excellent water resistance. Reviewers praised its style, ability to layer easily, and all around comfort. While a little pricey, it can handle a variety of conditions. When the snow melts, this jacket can be worn as an abrasion-resistant rain jacket.

Stio Women’s Environ Jacket

The Women’s Environ Jacket at Stio won Powder Magazine’s 2020 Skier’s Choice Award. It’s pit zips, helmet-compatible hood, and sleek appearance won over skiers and reviews alike.

Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Shell

With a four-way stretch fabric, the Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Shell should move with you as you carve. This two-layer hardshell jacket has a tough stretchy fabric exterior and a layer of waterproof and breathable fabric.

Black Diamond has even treated the pit zips with DWR to prevent moisture from creeping in. With lots of pockets, this jacket can stash your keys, lift ticket, and phone safely. The powder skirt is removable, so you can choose when to use it.

Raincoats as Hardshells

While not technically a hardshell, rain coats can be an inexpensive alterative to hardshells. No, they aren’t as durable or as warm, but they keep you dry during your human-powered fun. A raincoat’s lighter weight may also be a benefit for backpackers and winter hikers.

Rain coats work as well as hard-shells at wind blocking and keeping you dry. But they tend to be less breathable, and often lack a lining. They are a great option for someone who doesn’t want a closet full of gear.

Outerwear Jackets Comparison Chart

Outerwear Jackets Comparison Chart

Hardshell Bottoms

Hardshell options for bottom layers are becoming more common. This layer can double as rainpants during the warmer season. In winter months, combine these with a good base and midlayer pant to stay dry on your adventures.

Stio Environ Bibs

The Stio Environ Bibs are designed to handle the backcountry. With three fused layers of weather protection, this shell is both comfortable, breathable, waterproof, and durable.

The tough exterior layer is designed to handle wipe outs and slides, and its midlayer is waterproof and breathable. The inner layer provides comfort and protects the waterproof membrane.

An important element of waterproof is sealing the zippers, and all these zippers are water resistent. The dropseat and side zippers allow for quick temperature adjustments — or convenient pit stops. Belt loops and pockets allow you to carry all your essentials.

The mini bib allows the length to be easily adjusted and prevent snow creeping down your back.

For high-output aerobic fun, these can be combined with a baselayer alone. Also, if you run hot, this and a set of thermals might be all you need. However, they are not insulated! If you run cold or plan to ski at a resort, consider buying some down insulated pants or Stio’s Fernos Insulated Knicker.

Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs

Outdoor Research’s Carbide Bibs are our team’s favorite hardshell bottoms. These light weight pants have three layers of waterproof protection and can be worn over insulated down bottoms.

Note: These are not insulated snow pants! You will need to pair these with a warm base layer and mid layer.

I love the Carbide bibs for alpine skiing and everyday adventuring with kids. No snow getting up mom’s back with these!

— Calisa Kastning, TMM Member

Tunics and Sweaters for Casual Wear

In our opinion, no one is more attractive or stylish than a woman who PLAYS with her family! We believe that a big smile and a zest for life are often the most compelling accessories. But sometimes we want our clothes to take us from the sledding hill to a date night.

A fun and cozy dress or tunic is the perfect garment for relaxing after a long day outdoors. Soft and forgiving to our sore muscles, without looking sloppy.

Our family frequently eats at the ski lodge or at a resturaunt after a day on the slopes. I like to slip a sweater dress or skirt over my leggings to feel a little dressed up before we enter the resturant. To hide my helmet hair, I wear a cute beanie or trucker hat.

— Becky Trudeau, TMM Member

Mover Maker Hoodie Dress

This wool blend dress from Title Nine has beautiful Nordic-inspired sleeves with a comfortable hoodie and a body skimming fit. It’s long enough to be worn with tights or leggings, and it has a hidden zippered pocket!

Because of its soft wool knit and classic silhouette, it is dressy enough for dinner out while keeping you warm.

The Mighty Tunic

If you want cozy, THIS is the tunic. The Mighty Tunic from Title Nine is basically a dressed up sweatshirt. Long enough to cover your bum when wearing leggings, short enough so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a dress.

The cozy fleece stays fluffy and cozy even after multiple washings. The front pouch is a great hand warmer pocket or spot for a phone. This tunic is beloved by several gals on the TMM staff.

Kuhl Lea Dress

This dress is a cute, cozy and casual. The warm cowl neck helps block wind and keeps your neck warm.

The Lea Dress is made from a soft stretchy poly blend. It has an athletic fit, with front pockets (girls need pockets!). This one is perfect with leggings or base layers, paired with a fun beanie!

Wool Socks for Women

A good pair of wool socks is is a make it or break it piece for gear for winter adventures. Whether it is skiing, running, walking, or sledding, warm feet are the foundation of being comfortable. A good strategy is to wear a pair of great socks, and then throw a second pair in your pack. You can never have too many socks.

A pair of socks on someone's feet rest on the edge of a fire pit with a warm fire burning.
Socks are one of the most essential parts of a good winter wardobe

Darn Tough Socks

We love Darn Tough socks for their durability, awesome return policy, and extreme comfort. They have a lifetime guarantee, yet we have never had to test their return policy as we’ve never actually gotten a hole in any of our socks from them! They are that good.

These Yeti Over-the-Calf Midweight are perfect for ski days, and are stylish to boot.

Darn Tough Yeti socks and Smartwool ski socks
Darn Tough Yeti Over-the-Calf Midweight socks and Smartwool PhD Ski Ultra Light Benchetler socks

Smartwool Socks

Smartwool is another great options for winter socks. Smartwool socks are slightly less durable than Darn Tough, but just as warm and comfortable. They make several styles of socks with artists prints, so you can enjoy wearing art on your feet!


Hats, Gaiters, Buffs and Balaclavas

During active winter sports, you want to protect your ears and keep a little warmth close to your head, but most beanies and hats are too hot for running or cross-country skiing. When skiing or snowboarding, thin hats and headbands also be layered under helmets for additional warmth. For less active days, a thicker hat is a necessity.

lululemon Twist Knit Ear Warmer

This stylish ear warmer will keep your ears comfortable on wintery runs or while playing in the snow with your kids. The twist detail lends a feminine touch to this practical headgear. Additionaly, the merino wool-blend fabric will help with thermoregulation and comfort.

Sauce Active Headwear

Sauce’s Active Headwear comes in a variety of patterns and fun prints. Bright, colorful accessories can bring cheer to dark winter days! They are a small business headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, that was started by Shayla, a former Canadian nordic ski team member. They are passionate about making thoughtful, high quality gear.

A woman stands in the snow smiling
Skida’s fleece lined hat and bandita are a colorful addition to your winter gear.

Skida Headwear and Facewear

Another joyful headwear brand is Skida. Their nordic headbands and hats are unlined and just warm enough to keep your body at that perfect barely-cool temperature we want when exercising. Skida’s delightful patterns and colors make winter dressing fun and even a bit fashionable.

For a fun cowboy vibe, try Skida’s bandita on active, warmer days. Their fleece-lined gaiter will keep your face warm when things get really cold.

Gear for Your Hands

With the hands get cold, an outdoor adventure can become miserable in minutes. Layering often works well in cold temperatures, so you can add or remove warmth as necessary. Some high cardio outdoor sports require lightweight gloves while in motion but then need warm mitts as soon as activity stops.

Other winter sports such as downhill skiing require warm gloves for the whole time as your body doesn’t get as warm while skiing downhill and on the lifts.

Liner Gloves

A set of a liner gloves is the secret to keeping your hands warm. This layer provides addition insulation when worn with an outer mitten and it allows us to take off the mitten to use your phone or help your child adjust his boots. Look for a pair with touch-screen compatiblity.

SmartWool Liner Glove

These liners from SmartWool combine merino wool with recycled polyester for additional durability and are lightweight enough to slide inside waterproof mittens.

lululemon Run For It Gloves

lululemon Run For It Gloves are prefect for runners. Reflective details increase runner’s visibility when exercising during darker winter days. The fingers are tech friendly, making it easy to adjust your music or tracking mid-run. The more accident prone among us will appreciate the tiny silicone dots, which enhance grip and reduce mishap.

Durable Mittens

Winter hiking, ice skating, or even pulling kids on sleds can shred ordinary waterproof gloves. We recommend using a leather mitten or glove for additional durablity while outdoors.

Give’r Frontier Mittens

Give’r Frontier Mitts have a tough leather exterior and extra insulation. The leather is supple from day one, but the mitten will fit snuggly. With use, the insulation and leather will conform to your own hand. After being broken in, you have a mitten that fits you like a glove!

The women’s mittens have a fabric cuff that tucks under your coat to keep snow from creepying down your arm. They can be customized with up to three initials hand-branded onto the leather.

What sets these leather mittens apart from others is that they have a third layer — a waterproof membrane — sandwiched between the other two layers. This layer may crinkle a little, but it’s comforting to know that your hands will stay dry.

Kinco Lined Ski Mitts

A cheaper alternative, loved by some members of our teams, is Kinco’s Lined Ski Mitts. These insulated mittens have a durable leather outer layer and insulated inner layers. While well-maintained leather naturally repels water, these mittens lack the additional waterproof layer found in the Give’r Mittens.

Aurora Heat Handwarmers

>>>Use code “mtnmama” to get a FREE set of kids’ handwarmers with orders over $125! <<<

Sometimes you need to turn a thinner pair of mittens into a warmer pair of mittens. Or maybe you have awesome glovers or mittens but the day is just really cold. That is when you need a pair of hand warmers.

You can buy chemical, disposable hand warmers, as well as battery powered hand warmers. However, there is something even better.

Aurora Heat makes the best hand warmers with just one material: beaver fur. They used sustainably harvested beaver fur from Canada to make the most luscious, finger warming product you could imagine.

You put the piece of carefully treated and tanned beaver fur into your mittens, fur facing your skin, and you are good to go for the day.

The moms in Alaska on our team swear by these warmers. Aurora Heat also makes body and foot warmers.

Winter-Ready Footwear

Steger Mukluks Artic

Two of our Alaskan contributers mentioned Steger Mukluks as their favorite winter boot! These moose-hide boots can keep you warm to -40 degrees and still look fashiable.

Steger mukluks have been my go to boot for years! Love the look of them AND with a sheepskin footbed liner, I don’t think there is a warmer boot out there.

— Calisa Kastning, TMM Member
A foot wearing a Blundstone boot rests on a log in the woods
Blundstone Voltane Black Boots are town pretty and forest tough.


For a tough but beautiful boot, consider Blundstone. These shoes can take me from short hikes to dinner out. While they are not insulated, so plan to adjust your warm with socks. Sizing can be tricking with these boots, so make sure you look at the size chart!

I adore my Blundstone boots. I wear them daily and nearly everywhere — on hikes, to meetings, on dates.

— Becky Trudeau, TMM Member

Keen Revel IV Midpolar Boot

For traction and insulation, try Keen’s Revel IV Midpolar Boot. These waterproof boots have 5mm multi-directional lugs for extra grip on icy surfaces.

These boots can take you from your driveway to shovel snow, all the way to a hike in the mountains. A great boot if you just want one winter shoe.

Oboz Bridger 7″

If your feet run wider, it can challenging to find a boot that is both comfortable and functional. The Oboz’s Bridger 7″ boots are insulated, waterproof, and wider than most. These boots are designed to accommodate thick winter socks and have just enough insulation to be cozy, not sweaty. We also love that the waterproof membrane is breathable.

I know boots are pretty specific to foot shape, but I have wide flat feet and have found these (Oboz) super comfortable!

— Jessica Floyd, TMM Member

Danner Trail 2650 Campo Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Sometimes in the winter you don’t want or need a larger, waterproof boot. Particularly if you live in an area with low or no snow, a insulated winter boot is often overkill. This trail shoe from Danner is a perfect shoe for those areas.

This shoe from Danner has been thoughtfully designed with a seamless tongue, which means you don’t get dirt (or snow) sneaking into the shoe from the laces. This shoe has been worn in chilly temps (down to 18 degrees F), with snow, water, and mud, and so far, the toes have always been warm!

It is designed as a hiking shoe, but definitely can do double duty for short trail runs as well. The Vibram traction works SO well. Mud, and even ice were not a problem. This shoe is definitely worth a look if you are looking for a simple, waterproof winter do-it-all shoe. Danner also makes a taller version that comes up higher on the ankle.

Danner trail shoes surrounded by leaves dotted with frost
Danner shoes out on the trail on a cold, snowless day

Conquer the Snow!

If you have warm layers, winter becomes a season of play! You can embrace all these frozen months offer -sledding, snowboarding, ice fishing, backcountry touring – without worrying about feeling frozen yourself.

Let us know if you have any winter favorites we missed!

Related Posts

Best winter gear for outdoor women

© 2021, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.


  • Although she grew up in the suburbs, Becky Trudeau enjoyed frequent hikes and camping trips as a child. These outings taught her to love the wilderness. In college, Becky studied journalism and biology, pursuing both her interest in the natural world and her love of writing. She has since worked in Communications and as a science teacher. These days, Becky is teaching, writing, and learning as she home educates her three boys. Since moving to the foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in 2017, Becky's family has dedicated more of their time to outdoor pursuits. They love skiing, hiking, biking, and camping.

Leave a Comment