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# 180542 13-Sep-2015 11:04
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So I've never lived in a place where it snows. Therefore none of my clothes are very wintery.
One Kathmandu puffer jacket, thats it.
Next year in November I am going to Canada where I am informed it wont be cold, it will be FREEZING!!!!!
I will hopefully be outdoors quite a bit, though not skiing.
Is there anywhere in NZ that sells clothing appropriate for that environment?
Kathmandu seems more hiking oriented than snowy.
And if you have been to Canada when its FREEZING what clothing did you find useful?




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  # 1386576 13-Sep-2015 11:29
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I'd have thought that Canada might be the best place to buy outdoor clothing for a Canadian winter.
You can probably buy clothes for such cold conditions here, but it's likely to be specialised lightweight/rugged mountaineering gear and rather expensive.  OTOH where everybody needs clothes for the conditions, then adequate inexpensive gear is probably available in discount stores.

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  # 1386589 13-Sep-2015 11:32
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I bought it in Canada when I arrived. Much greater choice and much cheaper than NZ.

If you are going to the truly cold parts (Edmonton, Golden, Fort McMurray, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and so on) it could be as low as negative 45 C or even colder (it got to -46C when I was there). If you are not familiar with operating in temperatures that low, be warned, it is potentially dangerous if you are not properly equipped and prepared in case of things such as vehicle breakdown and so on, particularly if you are heading out into the sticks away from population centres. It's not just "a bit chilly" it's "a bit going to kill you if you are not properly dressed"!

If you are only going to be in places like Toronto, Vancouver etc then you'll never be far from people or buildings so not an issue to as much a degree.

Sorrel boots, Canada Goose parkas, good gloves, thick socks, Icebreaker or Helly Hansen Lifa underwear, lots of layers.





 
 
 
 


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  # 1386611 13-Sep-2015 12:41
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When in Canada go to Mountain Equipment Co-op.  It'll cost you $10 to become a "member" but best range by far.
Think Kathmandu on steriods.

If you can afford a Canadian Goose Jacket then get one - prices have skyrocketed since it became the "in" brand.  I'll second the Sorrell footwear my wife still has sneakers that are rated for -20C but they look just like sneakers.

Doubtful you'll find anything in NZ that will keep you warm over there - we just dont understand cold.  Icebreaker etc for lower layers but you'll find the same at MEC for half the price or less.

www.mec.ca

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  # 1386613 13-Sep-2015 12:51
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Certainly buy things over there. Much cheaper. Join a "club" as mentioned above.

I visited Canada over January and it was around -25c so I wasn't really ready for that - bought stuff there. But that was back in early 90s.





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  # 1386614 13-Sep-2015 12:55
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It depends where you're going. Temperatures in Canada in November will range from about 10-15 degrees still in Vancouver to around -40 in the cold parts.



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  # 1386722 13-Sep-2015 17:29
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It depends on where you are headed to and how long you will be staying.

I experienced British Columbia (Vancouver to just north of Whistler) in November two years ago and got by nicely with my NZ clothing. Anything you would wear for a South Island winter works well for that area, with the addition of a good, breathable, vented rain jacket. BC rains a lot, gets cold wind, but very little snow compared to other parts. 

In the far northern areas or eastern provinces, it's a different story. If you are only there for November you don't have to worry too much about buying more clothes as November is only heading into the really cold times. If you plan on still being there in January or February you will need to get equipped. I experienced temperatures with wind chill going down to -48C during this past winter. It's a real shock to a kiwi system!

Since you mentioned snow I am going to assume you are headed east or north, into bitter winters. This past November was very cold but nothing that couldn't be handled with NZ winter clothing. It snowed regularly in the east, in Quebec, but thawed regularly too. Christmas was green with almost no snow on the ground. When snow is falling it often feels warmer but wind chill can be a killer. Frostbite can get you in as little as 5 minutes when it's really cold. I got frostbite on the tip of my nose and on one ear. I got some sensation back on the ear but my nose has a permanent area with no feeling in it. 

So, keeping extremities protected is critical. I'm not going to make the same mistakes this winter! (I'm in Canada now).

You will need a good beanie (it's called a tuque here) - two is best. Good, long scarf - again, two is best. Woollen socks - mohair or merino/possum (a few pairs). Long johns (cotton/merino blend union suit on Amazon is a nice addition too), and gloves. The secret to being warm is wearing layers. Two of most outerwear is good as things get wet. You will also need good winter boots - not snow boots or ski boots- and a jacket or coat that blocks wind. 

I don't agree with those that said to wait and buy in Canada. Prices in Canadian stores are not cheap and when you add the various sales taxes, plus NZD->CAD $ exchange rate you really can do much better by buying almost everything you need in NZ. NZ also has two things that are just not available here: plenty of inexpensive superfine merino garments and the wonderful possum/merino blend knits. Cheap stuff in Canada is synthetic. Some of it looks great but is absolutely useless for keeping warmth in and wind out. Natural wool products cost the earth yet wool is amazingly warm, water repellent, breathable, and can be wind-blocking. 

You can get superfine merino singlets, long-sleeved t-shirts, etc almost everywhere in NZ. Farmers has them, and Farmlands stores have thicker garments for those outdoor days. Every day is an outdoor day to some extent, if you plan on leaving your room. If you spend hours outside you need more warmth than if you are just out around town. 

Merino is hugely popular here and its almost all Icebreaker. You can do much better buying it in NZ and merino gear doesn't need a brand name.

For amazing gear, look for the 36.6 range by MKM. MKM is the branding for Manawatu Knitting Mills. If you pass by Palmerston North you can get into their factory shop (Bennett St, I think it is) and save a bundle. MKM themselves don't sell online but a number of online retailers stock at least some of their clothes. 36.6 is wonderful in winter here. I brought a suitcase of it back at the request of people in Quebec. That range is double-thickness with wool on the outside and a merino/possum wool on the inside. It's double knitted together, so not in layers, and blocks most wind. The pullover and matching beanie make a huge difference to how long you can be out before feeling the cold. 

Note: I'm not recommending this site but simply showing you the jersey that saved me this past winter: http://www.nznaturalclothingshop.co.nz/mkm-tasman-36-6-jersey/

Merino/possum - can't emphasise it enough. It's light, very warm, and - best yet - it doesn't freeze. 

Don't buy a balaclava. People will laugh at you and immediately pick you out as a tourist. Only kids wear them. Adults wear a tuque/beanie and long scarf. The scarf has to be long enough to wrap around over ears, around neck, and around the face, leaving only eyes exposed. Because you breathe through this, the scarf gets wet from condensation. Synthetic blends freeze. Wool gets icicles. Merino/possum gets a dusting of icing sugar look with the ice but doesn't freeze up to obstruct breathing. Pulling a scarf off that has frozen to your frozen hair isn't fun. 

Gloves - get those here. The best are mittens that have fingers inside so you can flip the top of the mitten back and use your fingertips. Don't bother with the so-called capacitive touch gloves. Those are useless. You can pick up decent gloves here for around CAD$15. If you can find a fine merino glove liner in NZ, grab it. 

If you are only going to be here for November don't bother buying boots. Any water-resistant, salt-resistant running/walking shoe will do. If you plan to stay longer, get boots here. Others have recommended Sorel, I think they are rubbish. Sorel used to be THE brand to buy when it was Canadian owned and made. Now that it's US-owned and made in China the boots are simply trading on their old reputation and they are not worth it. Many stores say its the brand that's most returned for refunds and my experience of them makes me believe this. By November, getting boots will start becoming a challenge. Winter stock is already in the stores and selling strongly. If you are staying awhile make this a priority as soon as you get here. 

I recommend Kamik. It's a Canadian company (one of only two left that are designing and manufacturing winter boots in Canada), their prices are competitive and quality pretty darned good. Their boots are available online but you really need to try winter boots on before buying. Canadian Tire often sell Kamik boots. If you plan on a lot of outdoor activity, get knee-high boots (to stop boots filling with snow - it's often thigh deep). Otherwise, get boots that come up to mid-calf. Boots with removable liners are best, especially if you buy a spare set of liners. They do get wet at times. Check out Kamik: http://www.kamik.com/b2c_ca_en/

The other item you should get here in Canada is your outerwear coat. Kathmandu jackets are not designed to cut windchill and let the cold in around zips and through seams. It will work for you if you are only here a short time. For longer times, get a decent winter coat. I don't recommend Canada Goose as that has turned into a stylish brand with more emphasis on style than practicality these days. I won't pay upwards of $1000 for one of their jackets, especially as most designs are now for city warmth and not for the great outdoors. Every province has different down coat products but, depending on what you intend to do, you may not need a down coat/jacket. Longer coats for around cities are great. In the outdoors jackets are better. Boiled wool pea coats with padded, insulated liners are popular. I've got a long down coat and now need a jacket for this winter as the longer coat isn't warm enough or comfortable enough when sitting for hours out on ice when I'm ice fishing. I can give tips if you say where you will be and what activities you plan to do. 

Finally (whew, this is long!) remember that the secret to staying warm is layers. Even cotton under wool adds warmth - natural fibres are best. NZ has some of the best natural fibres in the world and you can spend less on getting warm by buying most things while still in NZ. 

(If you find this post useful, please bring pineapple lumps and Whittakers peanut slabs to Canada. I'll tell you where to send them LOL)



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  # 1386727 13-Sep-2015 17:38
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^^^ From someone living in Canada.

As for the Icebreaker comments, if not buying in Canada I suggest looking at Amazon US. We buy all our Icebreaker from Amazon. It's not funny paying NZ$600 for a jacket that costs US$250 on Amazon, shipped.





 
 
 
 


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  # 1386742 13-Sep-2015 17:54
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freitasm: ^^^ From someone living in Canada.

As for the Icebreaker comments, if not buying in Canada I suggest looking at Amazon US. We buy all our Icebreaker from Amazon. It's not funny paying NZ$600 for a jacket that costs US$250 on Amazon, shipped.



It's expensive here but I have to admit to being biased against Icebreaker (due to cost here & in NZ). Love their business model and applaud their success but there are a lot of firms making merino clothing in NZ for a lot less than Icebreaker. Check out work-wear stores, shops catering to farmers or fishermen, or even Farmlands. Icebreaker do make nice things & it's more worthwhile buying them in NZ where you can wear some as outerwear. In Canada, outside of perhaps BC, Icebreaker outerwear isn't warm enough. Great underwear though. 

NOTE for the OP: Don't consider buying clothing or shoes online for shipping into Canada before or after you arrive. The chances of anything, especially shoes or clothes, slipping past the border unnoticed are zero to nil. Taxes and duties can be higher than the cost of the items (I got hit with $600 on $80 worth of curtains). Bring your items in with you. If you order from Amazon.com, Amazon will add duty and taxes to the cost at checkout then you have to deal with customs agents, so buy and bring with you.



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  # 1386950 13-Sep-2015 21:52
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Although I have Icebreaker underwear, I have always preferred Helly Hansen's Lifa garments. I find the Merino itchy no matter how fine they make it, and Lifa is easier to look after. Cheaper too, usually!

I was in Queenstown last week and saw some Canada Goose stuff. Very expensive indeed. It's never cheap because it is very good, but pretty sure it would be cheaper in Canada.





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  # 1386971 14-Sep-2015 01:09
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For those of you who don't remember me, I was raised in Quebec and lived through about a LOT of winters before leaving North America to go live in NZ for a dozen years. I've now been back in Quebec for a couple years.

The advice elpie gave is spot on. I can only reiterate: Layers will keep you warm. Natural fibers for under layers (wool is best), and a good waterproof/windproof outer layer. And a good pair of snow boots if you're going to face that.

I don't really do big down coats or jackets, even when it's -40C.

As for Canada Goose
Geektastic: I was in Queenstown last week and saw some Canada Goose stuff. Very expensive indeed. It's never cheap because it is very good, but pretty sure it would be cheaper in Canada.


Canada Goose USED to be very good. Now they are average. They are still trading on their name. They were never designed for urban activities. Now, they have models designed for that, but their entire range has gone down hill. It's a veritable fashion to wear Canada Goose (incidentally, it's a HUGE fashion also to wear Ugg boots outdoors in winter here).

But as many have pointed out, it depends on where in Canada you are coming (it takes 5 days to drive from one end of the country to the other, so it's not like the weather will be the same...) and it depends how long you'll be here.



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  # 1386985 14-Sep-2015 07:45
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Sorry I've not been in for a while. The parental units are here for a visit. They are still asleep so I've got some time to respond.
Thanks for all the replies, especially Elpie. That's sterling advice.
Will keep in mind the pineapple lumps and peanut slabs. I have to send these to my brother and sister in the UK on a fairly regular basis!
I've got a year to sort the clothing, so will keep an eye out for the layer components when they are on sale.

The trip is based around Churchill, for a week long polar bear experience. But we want to make the most of being there at that time to fit in some other stuff. Neither of us ski so I'm not sure what else we'll do. Probably just sightseeing around Vancouver or something. As you can tell, we're open to suggestions. :)
Total stay probably 2-3 weeks to get value from the international flight costs, so most of November.






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  # 1387009 14-Sep-2015 08:51
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You've had some excellent advice from people who live in Canada, so I'd take that, but a couple of bits of general advice:

 

  • How much do you want to spend on gear that will be used for a week long excursion to polar bear country, but you may never use again?  If most of your time in Canada will be spent as a city tourist, I'd suggest that you can get what you want in places like Kathmandu, particularly as it's permanently on sale (I was in one of the outlet stores just this past weekend and they had long sleeved merino base layers from $39).  It might be possible to hire a heavy down jacket, suitable over-pants, etc. for bear week when you get to Canada.

  • As others have said, layering is key.  My minimum cold weather gear is a merino singlet, a middle fleece-type layer with a windproof coating, and a windproof/waterproof shell over the top, with long-johns under thick woolen trousers, warm socks and good boots.  For colder days there will be an optional second long sleeved merino over the singlet for an extra layer over the core, and maybe a shirt or jumper under the fleece, and a second pair of socks.  And don't forget your head and hands.

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  # 1387041 14-Sep-2015 10:00
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All excellent information. I lost my gloves whilst in the Rockies and walked around for a couple of days with thick woolen socks on my hands! Anyway the great news is that once you are inside everything is wonderful. Speaking only for the west coast here. Every house you go into is centrally heated by a boiler system. Most Canadians I came across inside their own houses were in their shirt sleeves. They know about keeping warm! Double glazing airlock entrance ways. In the morning the house is toasty warm. When you go out you go into a heated garage to a per-heated car with heated seats. You then drive to a mall or office into a parking garage (heated) through a airlock door system into a heated mall or office.




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  # 1387079 14-Sep-2015 10:59
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gnfb: All excellent information. I lost my gloves whilst in the Rockies and walked around for a couple of days with thick woolen socks on my hands! Anyway the great news is that once you are inside everything is wonderful. Speaking only for the west coast here. Every house you go into is centrally heated by a boiler system. Most Canadians I came across inside their own houses were in their shirt sleeves. They know about keeping warm! Double glazing airlock entrance ways. In the morning the house is toasty warm. When you go out you go into a heated garage to a per-heated car with heated seats. You then drive to a mall or office into a parking garage (heated) through a airlock door system into a heated mall or office.


Totally agree about the houses! I stayed with friends in Edmonton and their house was a single wall log house.

Inside, t-shirts and shorts - outside, -40 C! 





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