Life in Yellowknife – Winter Wear

Outdoor Survival Canada Parka
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After some Idaho sunshine and sweater weather, I’m back in the far north in my parka again!

In honor of this chilly transition from early spring straight back to deep winter in Yellowknife, I thought I’d write about what it takes to survive this cold. In other words, wearing lots of layers and a parka every day…

The average temperature during the days this week has been about -20F/-30C, with windchill around -40. In December we had a day of -43F with windchill below -60F and our carton of eggs froze on the two-block walk home from the corner store. (The diesel truck we drove up here doesn’t like to start when it’s that cold, hence the walking).

To bear the temperatures while walking to the store, or movie theater, or our favorite pub, we bundle up.

Step 1: Thermal under layers & regular clothes on top

I wear two pairs of pants every day. So does Jesse. It seems pretty standard up here for people like us who aren’t used to the harsh winters.

When I’m not outside I usually take off my actual pants and wear my under layer (Lululemon/Champion leggings on warm days & REI thermals on cold days) as pants… It’s such a cold winter, shouldn’t we be cozy and comfy when we’re inside?

Along with the extra pants, this REI thermal top is THE softest shirt on the face of the earth, I swear. I don’t normally wear the top extra layer, but when I do I can’t get enough of it. Usually it’s just regular shirts on top, maybe a sweater, and I know I’ll be throwing on a huge coat later anyways.

Step 2: Winter accessories

The essentials! A scarf, a toque, warm wool socks (a wool blend is less itchy), some gloves, and sometimes mittens.

I always wear a pair of gloves with texting pads on the fingers so I don’t have to take them off to send messages or make calls. Sometimes I shove those gloves inside mittens too for extra warmth, or swap for mittens all together for outdoor activities.

Step 3: Parka

A good parka is an absolute necessity here. This is by far the nicest coat I’ve ever owned.

This mid-length down-filled OSC parka is rated to -40F/C and when combined with thermals it keeps me warm well below that temperature. It’s similar to the Canada Goose parkas, but we got a good deal on this brand (thanks, Jamie)!

It sometimes feels like I’m wearing a sleeping bag, but it’s so cozy. Plus, the coyote fur hood makes a huge difference for face warmth on windy days. When I went home for Christmas I made everyone try on the parka to feel how heavy and sturdy this crazy coat really is.

Step 4: Boots

I made the mistake of trying to wear normal boots back in November. I thought if I wore thick socks I’d be fine. BIG MISTAKE! Within minutes of walking around my toes started to go numb, and ever since then I’ve been happy to wear my snow boots every day.

I had a pair of Sorels in Idaho but opted for Baffin boots to bring here. They’re so much warmer and more cushioned than my old Sorels! With these puppies I don’t need to go crazy on the sock thickness, and my toes are always warm.

That pretty well sums up my daily winter wear in Yellowknife! Along with the occasional hand warmers tossed in, snow pants for sledding etc., sunglasses on nice days, and ice skates, it doesn’t feel too painfully cold and we’re making the most of this snowy season in the tundra.

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