What you need to know about cold gear


Being mexican and now living in Texas, gives me little to no knowledge about winter clothing, you know, real winter clothing that will actually keep you warm and not just look cute.

The most exposed I’ve been to winter or really cold temperatures, is the walk from my car in the parking lot to my office door. So it’s been interesting trying to figure out what I need, and also where to buy it. We need to be ready, WINTER IS COMING. So here is where my research has led me.


For home or travel

Travel light and warm is the ideal situation, and layering is your best friend, but there is a simple 2 rules to be successful in winter clothing.

1. Thick does not always mean warmer.


Base layers:

Base layers are definitely the most important pieces out of your clothing. The special fabrics used for base layers are light and soft and the technology of the thermic fabric keeps you warm and provides breathability (for a couple days).

They are divided into 4 categories: ultra lightweight,  lightweight, midweight, heavyweight. The lightest is for warmer (cool) weather, heaviest is for colder weather.

The most recognized brands for base layers are Patagonia and Smartwool. I personally like REI items, most of my gear is from REI and their private label.

Regardless of the weight, the warmest of them all is merino wool layers, is also the most expensive.  You can also find wool blends, a little more affordable. Silk, Nylon and Polyester are the consecutive warmer.

Aside from these, I consider the Under Armour ColdGear base layer one of my faves. It has a little fleece type fabric that keeps you warm and feels good thight to your skin.



*The top on this image is Patagonia base-layer. This picture was taken after a 2 hour hike so, I was hot. That’s why I had it showing haha.


Down Jacket/Vests:

Buying my very first down jacket and vests ever, was interesting to say the less. Long story short. All down jacket and vests have a fill number, this number can range from 300 to 900. The bigger the number the warmer the garment. What I noticed to be the most common was anywhere from 500 – 650.

So now, I’m kind of a fan of down vests, I wear them as much as I can. I used to think they were dumb and didn’t really keep you warm, until I was proven wrong.

Almost every retailer will make these vests available to you, which is great as you have more options!. But make sure you get the relevant info about it, after all, you’re most likely buying this when you’re in a relatively warm environment, like the mall.


GAP vests are pretty good, with 550 power fill. Yeah, I liked the guys more than the girls, I got the black and the green olive one.


For a jacket, I picked REI Co-op Down Hoodie, 650 power fill down. I cannot describe how happy I am with this jacket. It’s light and really warm! (Sorry for the bad images, I’ll replace as soon as I get new ones)

Are you wondering how to fit all of these puffy jackets/vests in your backpack?. Look at the video below!.



When it comes to shells, the first thought is hard, by the nature of it’s name. But it really depends on the activity and not the temperature that determines which one you should go with, as the warmth comes from what’s underneath (base layer, down vest or jacket). Think of water/rain/snow, sweat, and weight when deciding for a shell.


Soft shell

→ Better for Skiing or anything outdoors activity during winter, that is not heavy precipitation (snow, drizzle, etc) most are not waterproof.

→ Are quiet, hard-shells can’t be loud when friction happens and can get annoying during sports.

→ When weight is not a big concern. A day trip, biking, running, etc.

→ Breathable, nature of the fabric allows to.


Hard Shell

→ They’re better for rain, they keep you dry.

→ Usually lightweight, so great for backpacking.

→ Breathable, some have zipper under the armpits.




My pick ! Is the REI Talusphere Rain Jacket, keeps me dry and weights a lil more than alb, so it’s great for backpacking.


2. Don’t underestimate the power of your accessories


→ Wool socks

Like I said in base layers, smartwool is one of the bests brands for this. You’d be surprised how light and not bulky at all socks they have available that are really warm. They also have really cute long ones that you can show off with boots.


→ Gloves

I’m still searching for the right pair, I’ve used and returned 2 pairs already. I’ll get back to this.


→ Trapper hat or wool beanie

They keep you warm and look cool 🙂


→ Turtle fur, scarves and ear warmers

Such good choices. Turtle fur I think is definitely the best for lightweight and packable, and it gives you more mobility, so for travel. For more of a style sense, scarves.



And that’s it ! I hope this was hopeful and you’re ready for WINTER !

Isi Gonzalez

Marketeer, Designer, Travelette, and Blogger. Isi describes herself as a creative strategist and thinker. Born and raised in Mexico, Isi spent her early professional years working in Marketing only to find the need for creative input in her work and transition into design, resulting in the pursuit of a career in Texas.


  1. These are such great tips. As I Norwegian you need to learn that when you are a kid. My best tips is to use wool as the first layer, for example, wool jumper and pants 😀 I also think it is so important to keep your feet warm and never wet and also head 😀 That helps a lot. I hate the cold xD It hurts so much when you get inside to the heat again. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

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