Most people think cold weather gear means a ton of extra weight and baggage, but this does not have to be the case. Warmth – even in below freezing temperatures – comes down to a handful of lightweight and low-volume items.
The down puff coat is an absolute must-have. The higher the down fill-count the warmer the coat. Even in the coldest of temperatures, an 800+ fill down coat will keep you nice and toasty, especially if you wear a rain/windproof jacket over it, which you should bring as part of your rain gear anyways. Down puff jackets weigh less than a pound and pack down to about the size of a fist – by far the greatest warmth to weight or volume ratio of any insulating material.
The only risk is moisture, if down gets wet it looses all of its insulating properties until it dries out, so the rain shell is a must for cold, wet climates. For the past two years, I’ve worn the 800 count Zeus Jacket by Marmott. It’s served me well everywhere from the fierce winds of Torres Del Paine in Chilean Patagonia to the slopes of the Colorado Rockies during ski season.
To keep your lower half warm, invest in a 2 pairs of long thermal underwear to wear under your jeans or pants. I suggest packing 2 thermal long sleeve shirts as well. These will come in handy when its too warm for down, but too cold for a t-shirt. You could pack a hoodie or other light-medium weight pullover. Finally, make sure to bring a quality pair of medium to heavy insulation gloves (preferably water proof), as well as a scarf and hat. I prefer cashmere for the scarf because it’s much lighter and packs smaller than wool, while providing every bit as much warmth. I usually wear an alpaca wool hat for the same reasons.
Cold weather gear
Rain gear is simple, but like all else, it depends on your needs. For most people, a compact mini umbrella will do. But if you plan on taking any day hikes or trekking, you must bring a rain jacket and rain pants. You can spend a fortune on rain gear, but this isn’t necessary. I bought my jacket for $120 and my pants for $80 from REI. For hikers its also important to buy a rain cover for your pack.