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Gear for Canada?

(23 Posts)
BiddyPop Wed 10-Apr-19 10:31:33

Hi all you seasoned snow-weather people!

DH and I have snow gear, well worn, and did us fine when we went to Austria 4 years ago (where temps were positive a lot of the days). Mostly they've been used here at home, in fairness.

DD keeps growing out of things, so will need almost complete kitting out. And I am slowly losing weight, so am aiming to be able to buy myself a nice slim-leg style as a reward (if that works).

We are planning to go to Canada next winter, and I am thinking about the end of season sales etc to stock up. (We plan 2 weeks in Canada, near/in the Rockies, one of which will be mostly outdoors, the other a mix of indoors and out).

We are ok for base layers, we both have a couple of merino tops, and relatively decent thermal legs. DD generally gets the Lidl sets and they work fine for her normal uses (sailing, hiking etc all winter here, and snow both here and in Austria). But should we have more than that?

I have a set of salopettes and ski jacket, which are fine but bulky. And hopefully will be too big by then. Would the more skinny legs type ski trousers be ok in Canada or is it too cold and proper salopettes are necessary?

And how many layers are we likely to need? Am I daft thinking a merino base layer, fleece 1/4 zip top and ski jacket is enough, or do I need to think another 2-3 layers beyond that?

And if anyone knows how expensive gear in is Canada (Calgary, Canmore, Banff are likely areas), compared to UK/Ireland, that would be great to think about waiting to get it there or have it in the cases beforehand.

I know I need some more decent socks. And I hate my snow boots (they grip, but they have a shoelace wrapping around the leg type of closure) so my plan is to buy a new pair that lace up properly (there was no proper snow this year, so I didn't bother yet). Then again, would decent hiking boots be enough?

Sorry for all the daft questions. We are relatively outdoors people, but I have been warned about the difference between European winter and Canadian winter so I am probably overthinking it.....but also just want to be prepared for it (and buy things at the end of the season if that works out well).

StonedRoses Wed 10-Apr-19 11:00:17

Depends on when you’re going! Just come back from 10 days in the Rockies. Early in the stay it was up to +6 and sunny in town, sitting outside with beer! Then later it was snowy and colder but only around -5. So standard gear was fine.
Earlier this year, January and Feb it was consistently -30!!!!

BiddyPop Wed 10-Apr-19 11:33:08

Hi StonedRoses, it's definitely the Christmas/New Year break we're travelling - that sounds like serious gear needed.

stucknoue Wed 10-Apr-19 11:50:55

It was really mild when we went. But gear was quite expensive so I would bring from the U.K.

BiddyPop Wed 10-Apr-19 13:32:52

Thanks stucknoue - I've just lost a couple of hours looking at trousers and gear in various places, I need a bigger bank account.....(and possibly excess luggage allowance!).

Pantsomime Wed 10-Apr-19 13:37:24

Was -18 in Dec/jan when we went- bought lovely down gloves £100 but amazingly worth it while there, not sure if you can buy such heavy duty stuff here. Prices weren’t out the way there- I’d choose sallopettes you can add layers under if I were you as once you’re cold that’s the end of skiing til you warm up. Ski instructors check your face for frost bite, it gets that cold - but it’s fab

Pantsomime Wed 10-Apr-19 13:40:10

PS they have insulated portacabins dotted about at bottom of some runs if there’s no cafe etc which is heated & specifically for warming up

StonedRoses Wed 10-Apr-19 13:57:11

With regards to luggage allowance it’s worth noting that if flying with Air Canada you can check a ski boot bag in for free - even if not bringing skis. Saves loads of weight and space.
Layers is the way to go. And if it’s really cold you want a face mask like a balaclava under your helmet so there’s no exposed skin.

MooseBeTimeForSnow Wed 10-Apr-19 14:34:59

Alberta resident here. I’d recommend one good set of thermals. You don’t need multiple layers. What is essential is a very good pair of gloves and protection for your neck/face.
Humidity is very low, so it’s a dry cold. You’ll warm up as soon as you go indoors but a long ride on a magic carpet or up a chair lift can be very unpleasant.
Lots of outdoor stores in Banff and a couple in Canmore. They’re usually well stocked. If you have a hire car it’s an hour to Calgary, where big stores like MEC have a massive selection of brands. Their own stuff is great.

MooseBeTimeForSnow Wed 10-Apr-19 14:42:48

My 7 year old son is currently using an all in one suit which we bought in Canmore but is from a company called Reima. I think they’re Swiss. He’s had no issues being cold and we’ve had weeks of -30 and below this winter.

ShakeYourTailFeathers Wed 10-Apr-19 14:48:19

Another Albertan here. Christmas/NY can be really cold. I echo what Moose said.
You need proper snow pants - windproof ones that you can comfortably get thermals under.

In the shops on mountain and in town you can get hand and foot warmers - sachets that you shake and a chemical 'thing' happens where they heat up - they are actually really quite good.

Definitely get a balaclava or similar. Take regular breaks if it's very cold.

You'll have a great time - the snow is fantastic and the runs are empty compared to Europe.

ShakeYourTailFeathers Wed 10-Apr-19 14:49:05

Oh and Sunshine Village has a heated chairlift grin

BiddyPop Wed 10-Apr-19 16:28:42

Oh WOW thanks everyone!!

So head, face, neck and hand protection are vital.

Look at Sunshine Village for ski options (I can't figure out good places or costs - more research needed I know).

Ski boot bag - hmm, potentially handy for extra gear to squeeze in, but I haven't bought ski boots yet as we've only been once and I was happy enough to rent yet. Maybe though... ( the extent of our ski "gear", rather than clothes, is 2 sets of goggles (between 3 of us), although I could call my walking pole an aid!).

We'll definitely have a car. And flying into Calgary, staying near there initially so plan to visit the city at least once (we HAVE to go back to Canadian Tyre!! ). And I plan to MAKE DH stop in Canmore because I got great fabric in the quilting store there before (1 trip, summer time, 5 years ago now....so quite different I know).

I might leave some gear buying until we get there so.

Thanks all!

MooseBeTimeForSnow Wed 10-Apr-19 18:13:57

The quilt store is still there smile

You have Sunshine and Norquay at Banff. Lake Louise isn’t that far and then there’s Nakiska, which is in Kananaskis, just before Canmore.

The ski resorts will do rentals. I know Abominable Sports in Banff does rentals too.

StonedRoses Wed 10-Apr-19 20:37:22

You’ve got a choice of where to stay! The only on mountain ski in ski out accommodation is the Sunshine Mountain Lodge (at Sunshine obvs). It’s a wonderful place to stay but not cheap and you’d get cabin fever after a few days because it’s all there is!
The obvious place to stay is Banff itself where there’s a lot of choice of hotels for all budgets and much livelier bars, restaurants etc. But there’s not much self catering and no AirBnB because of the National Park. So you’re other choice is to stay just outside the park in Canmore where there are lot more suite rooms and generally cheaper. If you’re hiring a car and happy to drive it’s only another 20min or so on the Highway. If you’re staying in Banff you don’t need your car whilst there, good local bus service and shuttles to the hills. Another option is Lake Louise but it’s much much smaller and quieter than Banff with just a few hotels.

You’ll probably want to ski all three hills so get a tri-area pass and it includes the buses.

We’ve been to Banff with our son several times (and wish we were still there) so ask any questions!

MooseBeTimeForSnow Wed 10-Apr-19 21:31:02

Canmore Town Council is also clamping down on unauthorised short term lets/air bnb etc. There are lots of legal rental apartments with kitchen and laundry - Rundle Cliffs, Solara, Rundle Mountain, Fire Mountain etc.

BiddyPop Wed 10-Apr-19 23:11:11

🙏🌺💐 luffs you all lots for all that info!!!

Dh is gonna be so impressed by my itinerary planning...😂

BiddyPop Wed 10-Apr-19 23:11:56

And also sooo 😁 to hear quilt shop is still there!!

MooseBeTimeForSnow Wed 10-Apr-19 23:23:40

www.skibig3.com Tons of useful info on there.

If you’re looking for something different and you have the budget, checkout Snowy Owl dog sled tours in Canmore. They let you drive.

MrsEricBana Wed 10-Apr-19 23:29:01

Sunshine is a fantastic family ski resort. Really good face protection needed as others have said. We were advised that ski mitts not gloves are much warmer and both dh and dd bought some there as cold hands was limiting factor.
I definitely wouldn't stay at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge as it's nice to leave the ski area at the end of the day and there is literally nothing else there at night. Banff lovely place to stay plus other good things to do e.g. hot springs, Johnston Canyon hike (you MUST hire ice cleats in town before you go, frozen waterfalls fab), skating, Whyte Museum, gondola up Sulphur Mountain etc.
Ice skate on Lake Louise and you can walk right out across the lake then hot chocolates after.
What a trip!!

Yotam Fri 12-Apr-19 14:14:16

If you're going to be skiing for 10 days plus look at getting a season pass. I don’t know what the deal is in Banff, but where we go in BC if you buy the pass by September you get a great discount, last year it cost the same as 9 days I think, and you got discounts in stores. They probably won’t be showing next years prices yet for seasons passes, but note down costs for day tickets this year and then in the summer look out for pre season prices on seasons passes.

You can buy boxes of the hand/foot warmers in Decathlon - I find it cheaper to buy them like this in the UK, but guess if you have a car you can probably pick some up in Canadian Tyre, which will be less than in resort.

Definitely need balaclavas with neoprene face cover if it’s very cold - that under a helmet plus goggles can be arranged so no skin on show. TK Maxx often have Spyder ski gear in early in the season. The mid layers are good - some sort of waffle type fabric makes them v. warm.

I think we managed about 3 days staying in Sunshine before going a bit stir crazy. It’s great being on the mountain but the food got a bit repetitive. We did it when we had more small children than adults who could manage to carry everything. Once they can carry their own bits getting the bus isn’t such an issue, and there are lots of great places to eat in Banff.

Yeahyeahyeahyeeeeah Sun 14-Apr-19 10:16:29

I’m going to be a bit of a party pooper, but Banff area at Xmas is high risk IMO. It can be REALLY cold. We were in Whistler 2 years ago and it was -25, it was -40 in Banff area. Our friends who live their say it’s known to be colder (& my research agreed) and no one skis when it’s that cold. It might be fine, but a cold snap which isn’t unheard of will be very unpleasant.

MrsEricBana Mon 15-Apr-19 17:58:44

Good point. I've been to Banff in Feb and it was excruciating on the lifts but fab at Easter (and snow sure at Sunshine)

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