Packing for Winter Activities in the Adirondacks

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by Michael Martineau

Packing for Winter Activities in the Adirondacks

Winter is one of the best times to get out of the city and visit the Adirondacks. As temperatures drop, there is no better feeling than that of clean, real emphasis on clean, cold air filling your lungs as you explore a winter wonderland. But, what should you pack? Winter in the Adirondacks means endless activities to try out, but some of these activities require well-thought-out equipment and layering. So, when it comes time to pack for your winter Adirondack adventure, base your wardrobe off the activities you’ll be doing, not just what you think is going to look best.

What I mean by that is pack what’s going to keep you comfortable during these activities, not just what looks best together or matches how you’re feeling that day. We all have friends who dress to how they feel, right? I can’t be the only one with those. Oh please, I hope not.

When it comes to packing for winter Adirondack activities, I’ve found it’s all about the layering. Whether you’re headed out to walk around one of our towns, scale up our mountains, or take a scenic drive through the snow-covered forests on your way through the Heart of the Adirondacks, you want to be comfortable. Most folks tend to over prepare for the cold temperatures, but, in actuality, overheating is what you should be concerned with. Keeping your body at a comfortable temperature will keep you happy and and healthy. So, what do you do to ensure you’re not too cold, or too hot? Let me break it down for you:



Winter hiking in the Adirondacks is absolutely beautiful. Imagine trekking through dense forests in Saranac Lake with towering pines covered in snow all around you. When the sun hits the trees, the snow glistens and you feel as if you are in a movie. When you hike, your body has the tendency to heat up quickly. That means layering properly is key so you don’t overheat – or freeze. Here’s how I pack for winter hiking in the Adirondacks:

  • Thermal base layer
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Flannel lined pants
  • Thick/comfortable socks
  • ¼ zip jacket
  • Mid-weight down jacket
  • Slouch beanie (embrace your inner hipster)
  • Light gloves
  • Microspikes and snowshoes



Depending on the type of skating you’ll be doing, you’ll need different gear. Leisurely skating on Lake Champlain calls for thicker layers, and gives you an opportunity to add some style into the mix if that’s something that concerns you. However, if you’re speed skating in Lake Placid, you’ll want tighter layers to reduce the drag while you skate. Sure, you may be a little colder, but that will make you determined to skate harder and faster. I pack the following for my skating adventures in the Adirondacks:

  • Skates
  • Thick socks
  • Thermal base layers
  • Sweatpants
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Sweater or flannel
  • Mid to heavy-weight coat
  • Winter hat (pom pom anyone?)
  • Light gloves



Layer like a king (or queen). The skiing and boarding in the Adirondacks is some of the best on the East Coast. Make sure your day isn’t interrupted because you didn’t dress properly. You’ll want to be warm and cozy riding the lift up Whiteface Mountain and shredding down the largest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Maybe you want to head out and ski under the stars at Titus Mountain. As soon as the sun goes down, you’ll really be thankful for those extra few layers! My layering system for skiing and riding in the Adirondacks looks something like this:

  • Thermal base layers
  • Sweatpants
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Thick sweater
  • Down mid-weight jacket
  • Ski jacket & snow pants
  • Winter hat
  • Heavy gloves
  • Face buff

Seeing it all laid out now, it looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? In all honesty, it is. Just one more piece of advice – perhaps the most critical piece of advice – check the forecast for when you’ll be visiting - and make sure you hone in on your location. The weather could be drastically different between the Tupper Lake and Schroon Lake regions. Take into account both the highs and lows of the day, especially the overnight lows. You’ll want to know what you’re walking out into if you have an early wake up call. Happy packing!