Staying warm doesn’t mean wearing as many layers as you can. Here are winter travel tips that will tide you through the next cold weather getaway.

We all have that one friend who’s deathly afraid of the cold — that friend happens to be me. Which is why no matter how beautiful Iceland is, I have little desire to return again in its unforgiving winter. Autumn, spring or summer perhaps 😍

Iceland Winter Wear - Winter Travel Dressing For The Cold

This was me, 2016, mid-January in Iceland — it was -2°C, not that cold for nordic standards but I remember seeing our heavy tripod rolling away from the wind and I had on so many layers I thought I’d soon follow suit. ⛄🏔

Under my brightly coloured wind breaker, I had on four layers which despite the unflattering look, I thought would at least get me through the cold. I was so wrong.

TTI Team in Tromsø-Norway Winter Itinerary

Since then, I’ve experienced Norway in Winter, stayed in Japan’s snow village in Shirakawago and hiked on a glacier in New Zealand. You’d think I’ve become better friends with the cold but the truth is, I’ve just learnt to dress better for winter.

After searching extensively on what to wear in winter, this one’s for all those that find themselves suffering on winter getaways. The truth is, you only need these three simple rules to stay absolutely warm when travelling during winter.

1) Invest in a Good Base Layer

Iceland Winter - Winter Travel Dressing For The Cold

This is the number one tip to staying warm without looking like an absolute ball.

The base layer is the piece that touches your skin and keeps all that hot goodness within. Without this layer and you’d need a lot more bulk to achieve the same level of warmth.

Apart from its ability to retain heat, it’s equally important to find one that’s moisture wicking and comfortable. A good base clothing shouldn’t restrict your movement and stays dry even when you get active.

Traditional thermal wear used to be gaudy and uncomfortable. They were stiff, hard to put on — even harder take off when you’ve got frozen hands and you badly need to use the loo — scratchy on the skin and you wouldn’t want to be seen in them on its own. If not for the cold, there’s really no reason why anyone should be subjected to wearing these.

I’ve always been a fan of Uniqlo’s HEATTECH range and even more now that the line has expanded with many different styles and colour updates for both tops and bottoms. They’re also constantly improving the material so it’s a nice surprise each year when looking out for new winter wear.

But the most useful feature is its three levels of warmth to cater for various winter situations.

Uniqlo HEATTECH Ratings - Winter Travel Essentials

*Temperature ratings below are suggestions from the writers’ own experience.

For the chilly (15 – 23°C):

Uniqlo Heattech Range - Winter Travel Essentials

Top (from left): W’s HEATTECH Camisole (S$14.90), W’s HEATTECH Sleeveless Top (S$14.90), W’s HEATTECH Crew Neck T-Shirt (S$19.90), W’s HEATTECH Scoop Neck T-Shirt (S$19.90)
Bottom (From Left): M’s HEATTECH Crew Neck T-Shirt Short Sleeve (S$14.90), M’s HEATTECH Crew Neck T-Shirt Long Sleeve (S$19.90)

An underrated piece in the regular HEATTECH line is the HEATTECH Camisole. This might not seem like much but the cut and material is especially useful for sunrise hikes. Temperatures could drop to low 10s when you begin the hike but rises up to a toasty 20°C once the sun’s up. Layer up and remove accordingly as your activity and the temperature increases.

Apart from a wide range of designs, the cool thing about the regular HEATTECH line is the range of colour available. The HEATTECH Crew Neck Long Sleeve comes in eight different colours ranging from the basic white, grey and black to red, blue and green. The Women’s green is my current favourite. In fact it looks great even on its own so you can style it as a top not just as an inner wear.

For the cold (5 – 14°C):

Uniqlo Heattech Extra Warm Range - Winter Travel Essentials

Top: W’s HEATTECH Extra Warm Crew Neck T-Shirt (S$24.90), W’s HEATTECH Extra Warm Ribbed High Neck T-Shirt (S$24.90),M’s HEATTECH Extra Warm Crew Neck Long Sleeve (S$24.90)
Bottom: W’s HEATTECH Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90), W’s HEATTECH Ultra Stretch Denim Legging Pants (S$49.90), HEATTECH Slim Fit Jeans (S$59.90)

The HEATTECH Extra Warm range comes with a brushed lining. When packed, it doesn’t seem that much thicker than the regular HEATTECH range but it actually provides 1.5 times more warmth. I used this as a base on most of my autumn/spring trips like New Zealand in May, Switzerland in October and Hokkaido in April.

If you have the time, head down to a Uniqlo store and feel the HEATTECH Extra Warm Ribbed High Neck T-Shirt! It’s the newest in line and feels so soft and smooth you’ll want to be in it all day.

The HEATTECH Extra Warm leggings too has been a must-have in my winter packing list lately. Instead of wearing thick pouffy pants to stay warm in winter, these leggings fit well under denim jeans and make the cold on my knees much more bearable.

For the extreme cold (subzero to 4°C):

Uniqlo Heattech Ultra Warm Range - Winter Travel Essentials

Top: W’s HEATTECH Ultra Warm Crew Neck T-Shirt (S$29.90), W’s HEATTECH Stretch Fleece Crew Neck Long Sleeve T-Shirt (S$19.90), M’s HEATTECH Ultra Warm Crew Neck T-Shirt (S$29.90)
Bottom: W’s Heattech Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90), M’s HEATTECH Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90)

You probably guessed it but the HEATTECH Ultra Warm is the warmest inner wear in the HEATTECH line and is 2.25 times warmer than the regular HEATTECH. Despite the added warmth, it doesn’t compensate on comfort or bulk so it’s great for the extra wild winters.

I had the chance to test the HEATTECH Ultra Warm crew neck and leggings during a winter trip to Japan in January. The temperature averaged at about -1°C and it feels like you’re almost invincible to the cold when you have the HEATTECH Ultra Warm as a base!

For days where I expect to be out way past sunset, I like to throw in the HEATTECH Stretch Fleece Crew Neck in my day bag. This serves as a great mid-layer when the temperature drops since it’s slightly loose and fits perfectly over the HEATTECH inner layer.

2) Layer without bulking

Layering with Uniqlo Heattech - Winter Travel Essentials

Layering isn’t second-nature to us tropical, city kids but if there’s one big lesson I learnt from travelling in Iceland, it’s that cotton clothing don’t count as a layer when dressing for the extreme cold. This material does nothing in keeping us warm, is bulky and if you sweat under those layers, good luck because it’ll take forever to dry up. Mid-trip, I was on the verge of leaving behind all my cotton tops to make space for warmer clothing — but didn’t because clothes were too expensive in Iceland.

For mid layers, look for fabrics like cashmere, merino wool and fleece. These have amazing heat retention abilities and dry really quickly in case of rain or if you get a little sweaty from hiking.

For the chilly (15 – 23°C):

Perfect For Everyday Winter Wear - Winter Travel Essentials1

W: HEATTECH Camisole (S$14.90), Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt (S$29.90), BLOCKTECH Parka (S$99.90), HEATTECH Ultra Stretch Denim Legging Pants (S$49.90)
M: HEATTECH Crew Neck T-Shirt Long Sleeve (S$19.90), Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt (S$29.90), BLOCKTECH Parka (S$99.90), EZY Jeans (S$59.90)

Some people will find this warm enough to be in a single-layer cotton t-shirt. But if you’re (like me) a little more sensitive to the cold, here’s what I’d recommend.

As a base, pick something from the regular HEATTECH line which you can use on its own. My personal favourite is the HEATTECH camisole but there’s also the HEATTECH crew neck long sleeve which comes in eight different colours.

For mid layers, my favourite is to layer on open front tops like a flannel or long cardigan (or both, depending on the wind). If wind and rain is expected, I’ll throw in my BLOCKTECH parka — it’s super light and highly water resistant but doesn’t feel too stuffy like a regular raincoat.

For the cold (5 – 14°C):

Winter Wear Ideal for Very Cold Days - Winter Travel Essentials

W: Hybrid Down Parka (S$149.90), Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt (S$29.90), Extra Fine Merino Wool Crew Neck Sweater (S$39.90), HEATTECH Ultra Stretch Denim Legging Pants (S$49.90), HEATTECH Extra Warm Leggings (S$24.90), HEATTECH Knitted Cap (S$14.90)
M: Hybrid Down Parka (S$149.90), Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt (S$29.90), Extra Fine Merino Crew Neck Sweater (S$49.90), HEATTECH Slim Fit Jeans (S$59.90)

5 – 14°C is generally cold for most people. For colder days, I always have an Ultra Light Down Parka thrown into my day pack. It packs really small and light but does wonders in regulating your body heat.

When the single digits hit, you can even layer up with a Merino wool Sweater under your Ultra Light Down. Don’t underestimate this light piece of clothing though! Like wool, it’s great at retaining heat but doesn’t have the scratchy texture that’s common to wool. Win-win!

For bottoms, the HEATTECH warm lined pants can be worn on its own or over a pair of HEATTECH leggings depending how much warmth you need. These pants are lined with HEATTECH fleece on the inside for extra warmth.

For the extreme cold (subzero to 4°C):

W: Hybrid Down Ultra Warm Coat (S$249.90), Pile Lined Fleece Cardigan (S$49.90), HEATTECH Ultra Warm Crew Neck T-Shirt (S$29.90), HEATTECH Ultra Warm Tights (S$29.90), Wind Proof Extra Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90), HEATTECH Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90), Cashmere Knitted Beanie (S$49.90), HEATTECH Snood (S$19.90)
M: Hybrid Down Ultra Warm Coat (S$249.90), Fleece Long Sleeve Full-zip Jacket (S$29.90), HEATTECH Ultra Warm Crew Neck T-Shirt (S$29.90), HEATTECH Ultra Warm Tights (S$29.90), Wind Proof Extra Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90), HEATTECH Warm Lined Pants (S$59.90), HEATTECH Knitted Cap (S$14.90), HEATTECH Neck Gaiter (S$14.90)

In the extreme cold, you’ll need an insulating layer like a down or fleece beneath your outer coat. If strong winds are expected, use a down coat like the Hybrid Down Ultra Warm Coat (only available online) — it’s stuffed with down but doesn’t have the puffy quilted look common with most down jackets.

With the HEATTECH Ultra Warm inner set, a piled line fleece jacket and the Hybrid Down Ultra Warm, you’re all set for the coldest winters out there!

If only I had these during my Iceland trip in 2016!

3) Seal it all up with HEATTECH powered accessories

Uniqlo HEATTECH Accessories Flatlay- Winter Travel Essentials

Here’s the final but most overlooked part when shopping for winter gear: the head, ears, fingers and toes! There were so many trips I’d been so caught up with getting the thickest, warmest outer coat but forget to get gloves, beanies and something for the neck. Here’s what you need for the various temperature ranges:

For the chilly (15 – 23°C):

This is perhaps the most comfortable temperature range because it’s cool enough to layer for style yet there’s no need for gloves.

However, I’ve found that when I’m out in the cold with a beanie, I can have lesser layers on because a lot of the heat is kept from escaping through the head.

Good to have: HEATTECH Knitted Cap, HEATTECH scarf

For the cold (5 – 14°C):

Uniqlo HEATTECH Accessories for Very Cold Weather

HEATTECH Knitted Cap (S$14.90), HEATTECH Knitted Gloves (S$14.90), HEATTECH Scarf (S$19.90)

This is when you’ll start to feel your fingers stiffen up when exposed outdoors for too long. Bring along a handy pair of HEATTECH Knitted Gloves to keep the hands protected.

For the neck, I like to have infinity scarves like the HEATTECH Snood. When the strong winds blow you don’t have to worry about your scarves flying away.

Essentials: HEATTECH Knitted Cap, HEATTECH Scarf or Snood, HEATTECH Knitted Gloves
Good to have: HEATTECH Lining Fleece Gloves

For the extreme cold (subzero to 4°C):

Uniqlo HEATTECH Accessorties for Extremely Cold Weather

Cashmere Knitted Beanie (S$49.90), Function Gloves (S$24.90), HEATTECH Knitted Gloves (S$14.90), HEATTECH Snood (S19.90)

The most uncomfortable part about this range is having frozen fingers, especially when you need to remove your gloves to use your phone or the camera. The best pro-tip I’ve ever gotten for subzero temperatures is to layer the gloves.

Get a thin base glove like the HEATTECH knitted gloves that comes with tips that are compatible with touch screens, then top it with another windproof/waterproof glove like the HEATTECH Lining Function Gloves. The latter comes with BLOCKTECH material so it’s windproof AND waterproof.

When I need to use the camera or the phone I’d usually remove the outer layer because, but at least with the base layer, your skin isn’t directly exposed to the elements and that really helps a lot! You might even want to keep a few heat packs in your pockets just for good measure.

Toes too are often forgotten but they’re the first to suffer especially if you’re walking on ice or snow. Keep the feet toasty with HEATTECH socks which has anti-microbial, anti-odor properties while insulating those trusty feet.

Essentials: HEATTECH Snood/Neck gaiter, HEATTECH lining quilted gloves, cashmere knitted beanie
Good to have: HEATTECH Knitted gloves (under the quilted gloves)

Winter Wear That’s Thin & Light

Gone are the days we had to lug heavy coats and clothes on winter trips that just don’t do your winter experience any justice. Get the base right, layer with the right materials and keep the head, neck and hands covered. This simple checklist makes it a lot less daunting when you need to pack for winter.

Uniqlo’s HEATTECH range have come such a long way since I first discovered them more than five years back. From just a single layer of warmth to three and from just the regular long sleeved crew neck design (that’s common to most long johns out there), they’ve now expanded their design and colour range to fit everyone’s needs for style and comfort.

If you’re looking for light, comfortable and effective winter clothing, check out Uniqlo’s HEATTECH collection (available online and all store), starting from S$14.90 for adults.

Got any great winter dressing tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below!


This post was brought to you by Uniqlo Singapore.

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