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Top five winter-trip items you might not think to travel with

Yesterday I posted on packing light for a cold trip - definitely something new for me since I live in Alaska and prefer escaping to warm climates. As I stuff my small backpack with fleecy bulk, a few items have come to light as being practical yet not necessarily things you would think of for when packing for cold. Here are the top five I've discovered:

1. A headlamp. Since, generally speaking, colder weather usually means winter, and winter usually means less daylight, a headlamp will come in handy more hours of the day than a summer trip. I keep mine in my purse whenever I travel.

2. A bandanna. A cotton kerchief isn't going to save your life in a blizzard, but it packs down small and will keep your ears warm. As someone who requires clip-on earmuffs year-round, I rely on the bandanna both for ear warmth and bed hair. Additionally, it can come in handy as toilet paper, tissue, and as a bandage.

3. A scarf. Sure, it makes sense in the city, but if you're a gear-head like me you might not think to use up pack space with a scarf. Think again. What's great about a simple black scarf is it can work multiple-duty as a wrap, headpiece, neck-warmer, pillow and outfit dresser-upper. Wrap it under your jacket or accessorize your dressy clothes with it -- or both.

4. A down sleeping bag. I want to emphasize down here: it is lighter and packs down much smaller than synthetics do, and is much warmer than that cotton or silk bag you use in hostels. If you're sleeping in huts (rather than a tent), you can probably get away with a tiny down bag, and it will also keep you toasty in chilly hostels. I have a 15-year-old North Face that is rated to 25 degrees Fahrenheit and takes up less room than my fleece hoodie.

5. Tights. Ladies, the 80s are back in style. You can now use footless tights as long underwear, running pants, pajamas, or simply under a skirt to stave off a chill. Gentlemen, you can use them for all of the above as well, if you so please. Pick out a synthetic pair to keep you warm(er) in wet weather.

Filed under: Gear, Budget Travel

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