Dude Ranch Life: A California girl’s take on dressing for winter vacations

winter vacation overview

The other day I asked Melissa to help a guest who is coming for a winter vacation, but lives in a place where putting on a sweatshirt is most people’s idea of winter weather. What she wrote was so great, I wanted to share it with all of you. So, without knowing she was going to be a guest blogger, here is Melissa’s advice:

Melissa here! Stephanie passed along your info and that you needed some help figuring out what to bring on your winter trip. I have attached our packing list, but I wanted to give you a little more insight below.

Is the one cookie cutter answer for how to dress here? No. Why? Because each activity requires some differences in attire.

I like to break it down into active activities outside, sedentary activities outside and sedentary activities inside.

Active activities outside: Skiing and snowshoeing
These activities require your body to be active, moving and working. What that means is that your body is going to generate heat and make you warmer than if you are just sitting out in the snow. Here’s what I wear.
On Top- I start with an active tank top over a sports bra. Then, I layer a long sleeve. I wear a Smart Wool long sleeve, Hot Chili’s long sleeve, or a Nike Pro long sleeve. My next layer is either a down jacket or vest (jacket for when it is a chillier day and vest for when the sun is shining!). I have a 700 fill Marmot jacket that I absolutely LOVE. I have a Patagonia puffy vest that is great for warmer days. My final layer on top is my waterproof, hooded, lightweight jacket. I have a North Face one that does great – any brand will work.
On Bottom – If it is a chillier day, I first put on thermal leggings or long underwear. I have Hot Chili’s and they work great. Then, I wear a pair of leggings that I would wear if I was running or working out. If it is a warmer day, I skip the thermals and go straight for the leggings. My final layer is a pair of light, waterproof pants. I purchased the generic REI brand pair and they are perfect. I like to make sure they have a drawstring, so it is a really snug fit that snow can’t get into my pants if I take a spill on my toosh.
On your feet – Socks are going to be key! I have a few I like. You can’t go wrong with a pair of SmartWool. I also have REI brand merino wool hiking socks that I love. Then, you’ll slip your feet into a pair of our boots. On top of those, you’ll want a pair of gaiters so that snow doesn’t get into your boots. You can always buy a pair of gaiters here if you need.
On your hands – A pair of warm, waterproof gloves or mittens is ideal. I have an Outdoor Research pair of mittens that are great. We always have some here you can purchase. In addition, we provide hand warmers to slip into them to make your hands extra toasty on a cold day.
On your head – A warm hat or headband is great. I tend to use my Nike running headband that is lined with fleece. It covers my ears and then my hair is normally enough to keep my head warm. If it is not, I just put one of my hoods on. You will want a pair of glasses, preferably polarized. I also wear a fleece-lined buff around my neck for extra warmth. We sell them here in our store.
Lightweight Day pack- I carry a light backpack when I ski so that I can strip of layers as needed and have somewhere to put them. I also have a camelback bladder that I fill with water and keep in my pack. It’s great to carry some snacks too 
Sedentary Activities Outside: Horseback riding, sleigh rides, tubing, snowmobiling, etc.
These activities are all outdoors and don’t require much movement on your part. That means that your body won’t generate as much heat and you will really start to get chilly fast if not dressed properly.
On top- I normally go with a warm long sleeve, a sweatshirt, a puffy vest, and then a warm snow jacket.
On bottom – I will wear my thermals, leggings and then a pair of ski pants that are fleece lined.
On your head – A warm hat. This is where you can be really fun and get a cute winter hat with a pom pom! 😉
On your hands – Same as above
On your feet- Same socks as above. Then, a pair of snow boots would be ideal. We do have over-boots available for rent here. Stephanie looked and the smallest size we have is size 5 for women.
Sedentary Activities Inside: Riding in our indoor arena
Riding in the indoor arena is the main indoor activity people wonder how to dress for. It is a heated building in the winter that stays at about 50 degrees.
On Top- I wear a t-shirt and then a flannel over it. Then, I am fine with just my down jacket or vest.
On bottom- Jeans will do just fine!
On your feet- Warm socks and then a pair of boots with a heel. We have riding boots you can borrow if you need.
As far as our other indoor activities, such as cooking class, wine tasting, meals, or just hanging out in our main lodge you can dress how you would in normal cold weather and then just bundle up when walking to and from your cabin.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m a baby when it comes to cold, it’s the Californian in me, and I do just fine here. It’s all about being prepared and having layers!