Winter essentials for the cold dark months

As the cold Northern winds blow ushering in the winter months, it’s important to make sure you have what is needed to get through this cold time of the year. Having lived in Northern Ontario for more than a dozen years, I have several winter essentials. Some items help me combat the cold when I need to leave the house, while others are simply to keep cabin fever at bay. Ensuring that I have these and other items is an important part of getting ready for winter.

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Winter essentials

To keep me sane and safe

The winter months are long. It can be easy to succumb to cabin fever or be affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to have items that will keep you happy and occupied throughout the season. To help you cope, doing an activity, such as planning your summer garden can help.

Hot chocolate

When it’s cold out, I want to drink something warm. Since I don’t care for coffee or tea, that leaves me with hot chocolate as my only option. My favorite is the chocolate bar-flavored hot chocolate mixes, especially the Turtles and Coffee Crisp flavors.

Books

I read year-round. However, during the colder months of the year, I am spending more time inside and that means having extra time to read. Winter is the perfect time to reread an old favorite, for me that would be Black Beauty. Or perhaps it’s time to dive into that book that has been collecting dust for years – I’m looking at you Lonesome Dove.

Lip balm

The dry winter air is murder on my lips. That’s why lip balm is essential. But not just any lip balm will do. Over the years I have tried countless brands and the one I discovered works best is O My! Goat Milk lip balm. Even when my lips are extremely dry and cracked from wind and cold exposure, this lip balm gets them back into shape in no time. I only need to apply it a couple of times a day to keep my lips moisturized.

Slippers

I may wear slippers throughout the year but they are an absolute must in the winter. Walking on cold floors is not something I enjoy, so a sturdy and warm pair of slippers are needed. I prefer the moccasin-style slippers, as they are snug on my feet and plenty warm.

Lights

We all know how quickly the sun fades during the winter months, so it’s important to have lights to keep you sane. A set of fairy lights strung across my bookshelves can help cheer me up while illuminating a part of the house.

A flashlight kept in my winter jacket is also important, as you never know when you will need to look for something in the dark. A headlamp is great for a hands-free option.

Video games

Another way to pass the time is to play video games. I’m a big fan of World of Warcraft, a game I have been playing for about 15 years. Of course, I do play other games. I absolutely love playing Rune Factory 2 on my Nintendo 3DS. It’s a simple game but really does wonders to keep me entertained and pass the time during those long dark evenings.

Hobbies

While not necessarily a specific item, having hobbies to keep me occupied really helps pass the time. Especially once the evening hits and it feels like eternal darkness. Learning to crochet has helped fill in some time and I get useful items out of it.

For when I venture into the cold

Admittedly, there are times when it is simply too cold to go outside. However, there are also times when I need to venture out and sometimes those days can be quite chilly – around -40C/F. That’s why some of the most important winter essentials are to do with going outside.

High-quality coat

I don’t know what I would do without my North Face winter jacket. It has served me well for many years and helps to keep me warm on even the coldest of days. If you live where it gets very cold, you want to invest in a high-quality winter coat. They can be pricey, but I can assure you when it dips down to -54C/-65F you will be glad you bought one.

I have seen people walk around with stylish winter coats where I live and they look miserably coat. Unfortunately, those fashion-centered jackets are not made for winter, at least not when it comes to extreme cold.

High-quality boots

Much like having a good winter coat, a good pair of winter boots will see you through those cold days and nights. My Bogs are a necessary item for when I venture outside. Their slim fit makes them perfect for driving, as chunky boots can be difficult to fit in the vehicle, but are sturdy enough to handle all winter activities.

It’s important to check the temperature rating on your boots, as you want to make sure that they are rated for your coldest temperatures.

Fleece galore

Now that my chest and feet are warm, it’s time to take care of my legs. That’s where fleece-lined pants come into play. For a number of years, I wore just regular pants during the winter and my leg froze! Then I discovered fleece-lined pants and I haven’t looked back. These are an absolute must for when the temperature dips below -30C/-22F.

Long johns

Also sometimes called long underwear or thermal underwear. Despite wearing fleece-lined pants, some days it’s not enough to keep the cold at bay, especially when the winter wind is howling. So, this is why I have a pair of long johns. Put these under the fleece-lined pants and my legs stay toasty while I’m busy unburying us from the latest snowstorm.

Heavy-duty gloves

With extreme temperatures comes the need for good gloves. I have found the best gloves for general use, whether shoveling snow or simply walking, are pigskin gloves that are lined with wool. They hold up well to most temperatures and keep my hands dry when shoveling wet snow. I will admit that when it dips down into dangerous levels, these gloves are not warm enough. In situations like this, if I am forced to go out, I will put a smaller pair of gloves under these to ensure my fingers stay warm.

It’s also important to have more than one set of gloves. That way when one gets cold or wet from being outside, you have another pair you can use if needed. The last thing you want to do is have to wear wet gloves when it’s cold out.

A heavy toque

To complete my outdoor gear, a toque is needed. Another option is to go with a trapper hat. I’ve never used this style of a winter hat, but I know plenty of people that swear by them.

Shovel

Of course, winter means snow and that means plenty of snow shoveling. Since we don’t own a snowblower, having a good quality snow shovel is a must. In fact, with all of the shoveling we do, we own multiple shovels. This means the whole family can shovel at once, making it faster to clear the driveway.

Another important aspect is to ensure your vehicle is ready for winter. That way when you need to run to the store, you know it will start and be safe on the roads.

What winter essentials do you have? Anything you think I should add to make winters more enjoyable?


20 Comments

  1. Winter weather hasn’t hit here yet, but it’s coming. A high-quality coat and fleece is a must for me during the winter. Recently I found out that there’s a brand that makes heated coats and jackets. Which would come in handy on those extra cold days.

    1. Author

      Heated coats would be fantastic. I will have to look into those.

  2. Great list of winter essentials! I am a big fan of Bogs, even though we don’t get nearly as much snow as you do. Thanks for sharing your cozy winter list!

    1. Author

      Bogs are such a fantastic boot company. I don’t know how I went without them for so many years.

  3. This is a great list for winter essentials! Love that you put hot chocolate first, that’s 100% our essential!

    1. Author

      Thank you. Hot chocolate is an absolute necessity for winter.

  4. I live in southern Ontario, so hello neighbour. 🙂

    Our winters aren’t quite so cold as yours, but they can still be long and dark.

    I’m taking note of the jacket and boots you recommend. They sound very warm.

    There are two things I’d add to your list. One for everyone and one for at least some of us.

    I’d say that everyone should stock up on a good quality lotion for the winters here. I know my skin gets pretty dry this time of year even before one adds in the extra hand washing that’s a good idea during a pandemic. 🙂

    For people like me who have seasonal depression due to the low sunlight levels, I’d also highly recommend a light therapy lamp. It makes a world of difference for my mental health.

    1. Author

      I’m a former Southern Ontarian myself. I thought winters were super cold down there until I moved North. I hope you do look into the jacket and boots, they really make cold days better. Ah yes, I considered adding lotion to the list but I’m one of those super lucky people who rarely get dry skin, even in the winter. I’ve heard of light therapy lamps but never really looked into them. I wonder if they would help me out.

    1. Author

      Tea is another good option for when it’s cold. I’ve tried tea a few times but never became a fan of it.

  5. I totally relate with you on the lip balm, I’m in desperate need of it during the winter months! I loved reading about your winter essentials! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

    1. Author

      Thank you. Lip balm is always within arm’s reach during the winter.

  6. I have never been much of a video gaming person, however, with everything that I would normally do cancelled due to the pandemic, I found myself spending more time indoors on my computer. The result? I’ve really gotten back into playing The Sims again. Who knew that there was such a HUGE community of Sims lovers including challenges, YouTube tutorials and more… lol

    1. Author

      I’ve tried The Sims a few times however I never fully got into the game. I have however lost many hours watching videos of people playing the game, so I can play vicariously through them.

  7. I agree with the lights. I have them around my bookcase too and mantelpiece. They just lift your mood. Lovely post

    1. Author

      That’s awesome. If I had a mantel, I would put lights there too.

  8. Fleece is the best for being cozy and warm! These are all great to keep on hand for the winter! Some we keep on hand year-round as they are also useful for power outages too!

    1. Author

      It really is. Ah, that’s a good point, they would make great items to have on hand for emergencies as well. I know I have a heavy fleece blanket in my truck just in case. I’ve never had to us it but always nice to know it’s there just in case.

  9. I love all these so much! I am a BIG fan of being cozy at home. I love doing everything I possibly can to make staying at home as cozy and happy as possible. Candles are a must for me 🙂 Great post!

    1. Author

      Thank you. Having an extra cozy house during the winter is a must. I love burning candles but always spend far too much time deciding on which scent to use.

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