Apres-ski, actual sking, snowstorms, winter hiking, breweries, mountain top restaurants and hip city coffee shops… what the heck do you pack for a winter trip to Colorado anyways?
I got you covered. This is exactly what to wear in Colorado in winter including my real life Vail & Breckenridge winter outfits along with shopping links and a packing list so you can come prepared (and stylish!)
How Cold Is Colorado In Winter?
As a Wisconsin-born gal, I’m always a little skeptical about winter weather in other states. (Wisconsin is always ranked as one of the coldest states in the country after all).
I find Colorado winters in major cities like Denver and Boulder to be pretty mild. Most nights are in the 20’s but it will usually be in the 40’s in the day time, which is really nice. But, you’ll find much winter and cold weather up in the Rocky Mountains.
I just got back from trip to Vail at the tail end of ski seasons and that last day up there… whew! The wind was so cold it cut right through our jackets and chilled us to the bone. So, your winter packing list really depends on if you are staying in the mountains or not. This list is more tailored to the mountains.
Links To the Exact Outfits I Wore In Vail Colorado This Winter
- Blue puffer jacket
- Ruffle sweater dress
- Cardigan from Akashi Kama
- Floral ski suit
- Puff beanies
- Red Swimsuit at the hot springs
- Snow boots
- Vintage Sweater (thrifted)
- Snow Day Sweater
- SmartWool socks
- Pink quilt jacket
- Black leggings
- Baggu Fanny Pack
What To Wear In Colorado In Winter: Complete Packing List
Exactly what to wear in Colorado in winter (city and mountains!) plus a complete Colorado winter packing list guide to take you from Apres Ski to actual skiing to winter hikes and lazy days at the cabin.
Fun Retro Snow Suit
At the top of the list is a fun snowsuit. I wore this printed snowsuit on my trip to Vai and got SO many compliments! I was able to wear it all day - from the top of the mountain all the way to happy hour and dinner. Best part? Felt like I was wearing a blanket all day. If this snowsuit is sold out, you should try anything from Tipsy Elf because they have the best retro and stylish snowsuit.
Heavy Duty Tall Snowboots
The best boots to wear in colorado winter for sporty outdoor days are tall heavy duty snow boots that are waterproof and insulated. Snow is sneaky and will get inside your boots if they aren't tall enough. I don't ski but I do go snowshoeing a lot and I wear tall waterproof boots like these that keep my feet comfy and dry all hike.
Cute Ankle Winter Boots
The heavy duty snow boots are a must but trust me, they are overkill to wear everywhere. (Wandering the the streets of Denver or going to dinner inside? Too bulky and heavy! You'll want a pair of cute shorter winter boots to match our street-style colorado outfits when you aren't on the slopes. These should be insulated and waterproof, too, but aim for lighter boots that hit the ankle rather than mid-calf.
Cardigan Sweater To Layer
Layers are KEY in the mountains in the wintertime. You'll constantly be going inside and outside, from heat to cold air. Having a cute, quality knit cardigan like this one from Akashi Kama will be your best friend. I wore this exact cardigan on my trip to Vail and found myself constantly reaching for it for lounging around our condo, quick runs to our car and even the market. (They're a Japanese American clothing brand and have a lot of cool pieces!)
Ski Themed Sweater
I'm a sucker for themed sweaters. Whether it's a snow da sweater like I wore in Vail, or that classic SKI sweater that I see everywhere, they're just super fun to wear in the Rocky Mountains during the winter. And practical, too, since they're warm for the chilly days and cold nights. They pair well with snowpants, leggings, or jumpsuits and beanies, too!
Waterproof Ski Jacket
It doesn't matter if you don't ski or snowboard you'll want a waterproof ski style jacket for any outdoor sport you do. But it's especially important if you do hit the slopes! Look for a jacket that has an inner lining, is warm but not too heavy, has inner and outside pockets and either a hood or tall collar to protect your neck. The best jacket for colorado winter will serve you instead of weighing you down. I personally love colorful jackets but black always goes with everything!
Long Puffer Jacket
On top of a jacket to wear during winter sports, you'll want a long fashion puffer jacket. These babies are great to throw on top of everything and be your go-to daily winter coat. plus, they pack really well since you can squeeze them up small in a suitcase. My friend wore a similar jacket to this in Vail and I was low-key jealous about how chic and comfy it looked!
You're going to want a few base layers. I always pack 1-3 turtle neck base layer sweaters on winter trips in a few different colors. I layer them under heavier sweaters or jackets while I'm winter hiking, or use them to style cuter outfits for dinner. I always end up wearing these a LOT!
Insulated Snow Pants
Whether you are skiing, hiking, tubing, snowshoeing or doing any other type of winter travel sport, you'll want a solid pair of snow pants. They don't have to cost you an arm and a leg (I got mine for under $35 on Amazon) but you do need waterproof and lined pants to keep your legs warm and dry. Your Denver outfits won't need snow pants in the winter but all the mountain days will!
When I was trying to figure out what to wear in Vail Colorado in winter, I knew right away I had to pack at least one nice sweater dress. Vail (and Aspen) are fancy ski villages with some really nice restaurants and hotels. While "mountain fancy" is totally a thing, It's nice having one upscale outfit to wear to the fancier spots. Like the Fours Seasons in Vail for hot chocolate overlooking the hill! Or the private gondola dinner in Vail that I wore this beautiful tiered sweater dress for. I rented it from Nuuly!
Puff Beanie Hat
Hey, it's Colorado winter, you need a good beanie...or two, or three! I personally have one of these cute puff knit beanies in almost every single color so it always matches my outfits.
Loungewear & PJs
A lot of travel guides and packing lists skip the loungewear, but you'll want some cute winter cabin outfits or comfy things to cuddle up in at the condo. I always pack a matching PJ or loungewear set, plus slippers, to wear around my ski town rental or curl up in on the couch as we eat frozen pizza and watch Disney movies after a long day on the trails.
Quality Black Leggings
Trying to figure out what pants to wear in Colorado winter? If you're not on the slopes or doing some winter hiking, you'll want thick leggings or fabric pants. Not jeans! Trust me, jeans for some reason hold onto cold and won't warm up. If you wear jeans your legs will be cold AF and maybe even a little damp if it snows. You can wear leggings under jeans (or just skip them entirely). I packed 3 different pairs of black leggings to my trip to Vail and Breckenridge and wore them all. Twice. They go with everything after all!
Smart Wool Socks
Keeping our feet dry and warm isn't just a comfort thing but also a safety & health thing. You'll need lots of pairs of will or heavy duty socks (tall ones preferred!) to wear during your winter Colorado trip. I always wear wool socks while snowshoeing or hunting down hot springs, and always pack a dry pair for after to change into. Pack 2 pairs per day of your trip to ensure you always have dry feet!
Frequently Asked Colorado Fashion Questions
What To Wear In The Mountains In Winter?
You’ll want thermal layers, snow boots, plenty of spare socks and gloves. Hand warmers also help and make sure you have something to cover your ears, like a hat or ear muffs!
What to pack for colorado in winter does depend on which ski village you are in and the activities you plan on doing. If you don’t plan on being outside at all on the slopes or winter trails, you can opt solely for street style snow bunny outfits. But if you are going any sort of winter outdoor activity like snowshoeing or snowboarding, you’ll need the proper gear.
What To Pack For Colorado In Summer?
Your Colorado style will change for the summer months. This state has four seasons and in the major cities it can get up to the 90’s in July. Your Denver wear will be your typical summer outfits. Up in the mountains in Vail, Aspen, Estes Park, etc you can expect cooler weather at around 70 degrees in the day.
If you are in the Rocky Mountains in the summer, plan on doing a LOT of hiking so you’ll need a qualtiy pair of hiking boots or Teva hiking sandals.
What To Wear In Colorado In October
Colorado weather is a lot like Midwest weather in the sense you never really know what you’ll get the next day. It can be 60 degrees today and 20 tomorrow. October is a swing season. I spent 3 days in Denver in October a few years ago and our visit was in the 70’s and felt like summer. But, right before our visit, there was a huge snowstorm.
So, if you are coming in October pack for typical fall weather but also bring a warmer puffer jacket in case it turns cold, and also a few warm weather outfits.
Best Clothes To Wear In Colorado In December
Snow usually starts to fall starting in December so use the above packing guide to help you plan your winter Colorado packing list! Same thing goes for what to wear in Colorado in January or February! It’ll be cold and windy these months.
I hope this helps you with your winter colorado packing list and outfit inspirations! When in doubt I always opt for color to pop out against the white snow. It’s just more fun that way!