Last updated on August 11th, 2023 at 01:57 pm

Seen By Amy contains affiliate links including those as an Amazon Affiliate. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Planning a winter vacation in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado? Lucky you!

No matter which ski town you’re headed to — Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Winter Park, Telluride, Crested Butte or any of the other amazing options — you’ll find yourself in an incredible vacation destination. These places also mean higher elevations, cold weather and lots of snow.

Warm clothing, cozy layers, long underwear, wool socks, and snow boots will all be on the docket for your ski getaway.

Read on for everything you need to know about what to wear in Colorado during winter, including a complete packing list!

Note: What to pack for a winter trip to Denver versus the mountains is quite different. If you’re visiting Denver, or any Front Range cities, head on over to my Denver Weekend Guide for a packing list.

What To Wear In Colorado In Winter

Casual Outfits In Colorado During Winter

Below are a few outfit ideas for casual wear during your Colorado winter vacation. If you plan to be out shopping, dining, ice skating, participating in après ski (but not actually skiing) these are all outfits which will keep you warm and looking cute.

For the most part, you’ll find ski town locals decked out in casual garb, like flannel and Patagonia zip ups. Whereas visitors tend to dress up and play around with the fun mountain town fashion, especially in towns such as Aspen and Vail. Whichever side you fall on is perfectly fine. 

Again, even if you plan to be inside a majority of the time you’ll still need very warm layers. Just a short amount of time outside will be very cold, especially at night.

Below are some cozy, cute, and functional tops. All pieces are linked in the caption below, most come in a variety of colors.

Consider an additional warm mid layer if it’s particularly cold or you’re out at night:

Any ol’ pants will do, I typically wear thermal leggings, faux leather, or jeans.

Your winter jacket should be warm and ideally water resistant.

If you’re not going to be outside long, or want a nicer jacket for dinner, any warm coat will do. Even if it’s not weather proof.

Shoes should be warm and weather resistant with good traction. Sorel and weather resistant Uggs are my personal favorites but there’s lots of good brands out there.

A scarf, gloves, hat or ear muffs are all warm weather accessories you should have on hand for your Colorado winter getaway.

During the day don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen, the suns intense reflection off the snow might surprise you.

Wondering what to wear for dining and nightlife? 

Casual day outfits will transition easily into evening wear. As fun as a dress and heeled boots might sound, it’s really not a practical outfit choice during winter in Colorado. 

If you want to dress up a bit, play around with pieces like a nice cashmere sweater, wool coat, or faux fur vest. Variations of which I’ve linked above.

What To Wear Skiing/ Snowboarding In Colorado

When skiing or snowboarding in Colorado you will need the following items:

  • Base layers – Warm and breathable.
  • Insulated mid layer – hoodie, fleece, light puffy jacket.
  • Waterproof outer layers – ski jacket and snow pants.
  • Accessories – Wool ski socks, ski hat, ski gloves, UV protected ski goggles. 
  • Snowboard / skis & ski poles, boots, and helmet.

When it comes to snow gear reputable companies are best. Consider brands like North Face, Arc’teryx, Patagonia, Helly Hansen, Dope, Burton, Columbia, Flylow, or Mammut to name a few. 

While there’s tons of places to buy ski gear online, if you feel more comfortable with one-on-one guidance each ski town will have stores with everything you need. Just know it’s (usually) more expensive to go this route. 

For ski or snowboard rentals there are also ample options available in each town. Check out rental companies which will deliver to your hotel and pick up, a super convenient service for those on a short ski vacation.

Outer Layer

When skiing your outer layer must be durable and waterproof. Most pieces are insulated, but if not, you’ll need extra toasty mid layers.

Note: Shell jackets are a durable outer layer which protects you from wind and water, but without any insulation added.

Additionally, remember, outer gear needs to be purchased a size or two too big to fit layers beneath. 

My gear is from Burton which is a good mid-budget option. The pieces I own are over 10 years old, the teal jacket and teal pants linked below are most similar to what I have. (If sold out, these items are also similar to what I own: Winter Jacket | Snow Pants).

Below I’ve linked some ski/snowboard jackets and pants from reputable brands:

Looking for snowsuits? I’ve linked some a bit further down in the “outdoor excursions” section. Ski suits are more popular in Europe than North America, although they’re definitely having a moment thanks to social media and content creators.

Just keep in mind the snowsuit comes with a few challenges… the most notable of which would be going to the bathroom.

Mid Layer, Base Layer, & Ski Accessories

A fleece or light puffer jacket will make up your mid layer, plus, some people wear sweatpants as well. Again, this layer needs to be warm, even more so if your outer layer is a shell jacket.

Your base layer, snug fitting long pants and long sleeve shirt, need to be light and breathable. Despite the cold you will be sweating while skiing/snowboarding, so this step is very important.

Look for breathable thermal wear or athletic wear. I personally use Lululemon gear as my base, but some prefer warmer.

Additional gear you’ll need include:

  • Ski hat – remember this will go under your helmet.
  • Ski socks – tall, thin wool socks.
  • Ski gloves – invest in a good pair, you don’t want to cut your day short thanks to cold hands.
  • Ski goggles – be sure to get a pair with UV protection.
  • Sunscreen – goggle burn lines are no joke.
  • Water – store a bottle close to your body to prevent the water from freezing.
  • Snacks – keep a little something in your pocket for a bite between runs.
  • Hand warmers – if you so wish.

Tip: Make sure all your gear is secure before you fly down the mountain. All sorts of items, even iPhones, are found on ski hills when winter snow melts away into summer. 

Below I’ve linked some ski accessories, mid layers, and thermal base layers:

Is It Possible To Buy Affordable Ski Gear?

Ski gear is expensive, I’m not even talking actual boards and skis, the additional accessories needed also add up.

Any existing gear you have — waterproof winter jacket, snow pants, fleece jacket, or gloves — will work for a weekend ski trip. When it comes to certain things like ski socks, good base layer, etc. it’s worth buying the proper gear if you don’t already have it.

If you’re looking for a deal, and have the time to wait, buy in spring when items go on sale. Late-February, March, and April are some of the best times. I’ve lived in Colorado for 20 years and buy almost all my winter gear this way. 

Additionally, consider thrifting / buying used gear from local outlets.

I’ve also found that Backcountry runs good sales on high quality brands. 

If you’re not ready to commit to gear, consider Mountain Threads for snow clothing rentals. 


Outdoor Activities In Colorado During Winter

Visiting the mountains in winter but not skiing? There’s still so many fun winter activities such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and snow tubing. The gear you’ll need is more or less the same as skiing and snowboarding wear which I’ve linked above. 

Some items you’ll need include:

  • Waterproof outer layer – snow pants and snow jacket.
  • Insulated mid layer – fleece or puffer jacket, some people like sweatpants as well.
  • Breathable base layer – pants and long sleeve shirt of breathable fabric, go with athletic wear or breathable thermal wear.
  • Snow boots – tall, warm, waterproof boots.
  • Cold weather accessories – warm hat, warm and waterproof gloves, scarf, tall wool socks, sunscreen and sunglasses.

While I do recommend going with reputable brands, as suggested above, if you’re dying to try out a funky snowsuit you found on Instagram I’d say do so when snow tubing or going for a short snowshoe hike as opposed to testing it out during a full day on the ski hill.

Below I’ve linked some fun snowsuits:

Below is the gear I use for snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and snow tubing in Colorado. Most of my gear is old so I don’t have exact links but these products are very similar to the ones I’ve used for years.

Packing List For Colorado In Winter: Mountain Towns/ Ski Trips

The following packing list is for a 3 day weekend trip to a Colorado mountain town during winter:

  • 2 warm sweaters
  • 2 fitted turtle necks or long sleeve shirts
  • 1 light jacket or fleece
  • 1 pair of leggings (preferably thermal or fleece lined)
  • 1 pair of jeans or faux leather pants
  • 1 – 2 pairs of winter boots
  • 4 pairs tall wool socks (always bring a back up or two in case socks get wet)
  • Warm / water resistant winter coat
  • Snow pants
  • Gloves (very warm and waterproof are best, it’s a good idea to carry a back up of this as well)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie hat/ ear muffs/ or ear warmer headband
  • Swimsuit (for the hot tub or hot springs) 
  • Warm loungewear
  • Sunglasses
  • Face sunscreen
  • Hand warmers
  • Reusable water bottle (Colorado’s high altitude is very dry, it’s easy to get dehydrated here)
  • Lip balm / Moisturizer

If skiing you’ll also need:

  • Thermal base layers (long sleeve shirt and pants)
  • Insulated mid layers
  • Durable and waterproof winter jacket
  • Durable and waterproof snow pants
  • Ski hat
  • Ski socks
  • Ski gloves
  • Ski goggles
  • Snowboard / skis & ski poles / helmet (unless renting)

Colorado Winter Weather In The Mountains

Winter weather in Colorado will vary by region, but to provide an idea I’ve included average temperatures from Vail, Colorado below:

  • December – 29° / 7° (average high/ low F°)
  • January – 29° / 6°
  • February – 34° / 9°
  • March – 43° / 16°

Mountain towns average around 200″ inches of snow per year. For scale, Denver and Salt Lake City average around 50″, Cleveland around 65″, Buffalo 95″ per year — my point is there is a lot of snow in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado during the winter months.

The good news, this provides us some of the best skiing in the world. On top of that, we have many sunny days between storms making for perfect bluebird days.

Aspen Mountain: Colorado winter vacation packing list

I hope you’ve found this helpful in planning what to wear in Colorado in winter!

Any questions or additional ideas? Please leave a comment below!

If you wish to follow along with my travels in real time check out on Instagram!

Looking for more ideas? Check out my additional Colorado guides below or head on over to Visit Colorado.

More Information For Your Colorado Vacation:

More Packing Guides:

what to wear in colorado during winter outfits snow ski trip
What to wear in Colorado in winter
Pin for later!