What to pack for Canada in summer vs winter

When travellers first think about booking an adventure to Canada, two words come to mind – snow and cold. But did you know that Canada has four different seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall) that vary in weather and even region throughout the Great White North? With climates as diverse as the country’s breathtaking landscapes, discover some helpful tips on what to pack for Canada’s summer vs winter weather below.

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Peggy’s Cove in Halifax, Nova Scotia during the summer.

Summer

Summer weather is welcomed throughout Canada between May and August with average temperatures between 20 to 27 degrees Celsius (or 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit). Hot and humid weather is definitely on the forecast, so breezy clothing is a priority for your summer packing list when visiting Canada. 

1. Shorts

Comfortable clothing is a must on your what to pack for Canada in summer list. From discovering the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to indulging in delicious smoked meat, poutine and craft beer on an outdoor patio in historic Old Montreal, shorts are a standard article of clothing during the summertime throughout Canada to beat the heat. 

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Men’s red hiking sandals in water.

2. Sandals

Canada is the world’s second-largest country. With ten provinces and three territories and tons of ground to cover, comfortable summer footwear such as sandals are essential. 

3. Swimsuit

With over two million lakes and rivers found throughout Canada, a swimsuit should be high on the priority list when considering what to pack for Canada in summer. A swimsuit is a necessity in order to cool off (and enjoy some exercise) during your Canadian adventure. 

4. Hat

In order to take in all the stunning sights the country has to offer, such as the cascading waters of Niagara Falls, a hat with a wide brim is a standard item to wear in Canada throughout the summertime. A pair of your favourite sunglasses will also come in handy.

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5. Sunscreen

To also keep the sun at bay, a bottle of sunscreen is key for your what to pack for Canada in summer list. Not only will it protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but will also help to prolong your time in the sun. Which means you can cover off more of your bucket list destinations throughout the Great White North. 

6. Bug spray

To keep away any pesky bugs throughout your Canadian summer adventures, insect repellant is another essential that should be on your packing list. 

7. Umbrella

No matter what area of Canada you are exploring, a lightweight travel umbrella should be high on your packing list. The weather in Canada is known to change in the blink of an eye and a handy umbrella will help keep you dry, especially when travelling to the west coast, the country’s wettest region. 

8. Reusable water bottle

A reusable water bottle is the perfect item to keep hydrated throughout hot summers in Canada. A travel-friendly water bottle is an amazing way to remove single-use plastics and quench your thirst throughout your journey. No matter what time of year you are travelling, reusable water bottles should be on everyone’s what to pack for Canada checklist.

Winter

Winter months in Canada tend to fall between November and March and welcome freezing cold temperatures, windy weather conditions and of course, snow. With temperatures varying from region to region, travellers can expect to experience winter conditions in the minus 30 degree Celsius range (equivalent to minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit). Warm clothing and extra layers are a must on your what to pack for Canada in winter list! 

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1. Winter jacket

A waterproof or water-resistant jacket is an absolute essential when packing for the Great White North and a staple item for what to wear in Canada during the colder months. Rule of thumb is to size up on your winter jacket to make room for all the extra layers you’ll be wearing underneath. 

2. Winter boots

Packing a pair of warm and waterproof winter boots is a must when travelling throughout Canada in the winter. Your feet and toes will thank you later – trust us! 

3. Snow pants

Whether snow snowshoeing, hitting the slopes or simply exploring the great outdoors, snow pants are a great item to keep you warm and toasty when heavy snowfall is on the forecast. 

When travelling with Trafalgar to the Canadian Rockies, guests are in for a treat and can experience firsthand the glistening icefields of the stunning Athabasca Glacier. From taking a sip of ice-cold glacier water to admiring the surrounding snow-capped scenery, snow pants are a great clothing choice to stay snug outdoors. 

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4. Hat, scarf and gloves

During the winter months throughout Canada, you are guaranteed to see Canadians wearing hats, scarves and gloves to keep warm and they are a necessity on your what to pack for Canada in winter list. An insider’s secret is to always pack an extra set of gloves in case a pair gets wet during some outdoor activities such as ice skating or skiing. 

5. Sweaters and long pants

Although they do take up a bit more room in your luggage than summer apparel, sweaters and long pants are a great way to stay warm while on the go during the winter in Canada. To help keep you from getting chilly, layers are a perfect way to stay warm and have you enjoying the great outdoors even longer. 

6. Socks

Warm socks are a requirement on what to wear in Canada throughout the winter months. Bonus points if they are made from wool.

7. Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar is the currency in Canada. Although credit and debit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are found everywhere, it’s a good idea to have some cash handy with you no matter what time of year you’re travelling.

What advice would you give to others wondering what to pack for Canada in the summer vs winter? Share your thoughts and comments below…

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