Quebec City winter packing list

A Quebec City Winter Packing List

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Pamela MacNaughtan

Compiling a robust winter packing list is one of the ways to ensure you survive a Quebec City winter. Especially during the crispy days when you could swear your eyelashes hurt!

Don’t panic, while it can get that cold, it is rare to have more than a couple of super frigid days during the winter season.

Of course, I have now jinxed us and this winter is sure to be a blustery one. Doh!

Usually, the longest season of the year, winter in Quebec starts in November and can last until some time in April or May.

Quebec City Winter Temperatures

Quebec City Winter Packing List - Frigid temperatures and ice floe on the Saint-Lawrence River in January 2022
Ice floe on the Saint-Lawrence River in January 2022

November and the first half of December tend to be chilly with some snowfall and freezing rain. By mid-December, the snowfalls are frequent, turning the city into a winter wonderland.

As Christmas approaches the temperature drops and it is not uncommon to have days that are -15ºC.

The coldest months, however, are January and February when the temperature can drop as low as -25ºC (or lower with the windchill). These are the months when a winter packing list is essential to help you survive a Quebec City winter.

Winter Packing List: 5 Essential items to pack for a Quebec City winter!

If you’re Canadian, there is a good chance you understand how cold winter can be, and you already know what to pack for your Quebec City vacation, then again, maybe you’re not sure!

Aside from frigid temperatures, Quebec City winters have the added challenge of steep hills and sloping roofs which collect snow and ice. While teams work hard to remove snow and ice from roofs before it falls to the ground and possibly injures someone, there is only so much one can do about the snow and ice on the roads and sidewalks.

1. Ice cleats / crampons

Ice cleats are essential for surviving a Quebec City winter!
Ice cleats / Crampons

This is why the most important thing on your winter packing list for Quebec City should be a pair of ice cleats/crampons!

As someone who has fallen a lot in Quebec City in winter, I can attest to the usefulness of wearing ice cleats/crampons while walking around the Historic District of Old Quebec, and other neighbourhoods. In recent years I have opted for boots with built-in crampons, which has changed my life!

2. Parka

Yes, you read that correctly, a parka! Quebec City is snuggled along the shores of the Saint-Lawrence River, and Old Man Winter is a crusty bugger who likes to crack his frigid windy whip over the city.

Simply put, a warm jacket/parka is a lifesaver during a Quebec City winter. When choosing a jacket or parka, buy one which is down-filled (or similar).

I’m not kidding when I say January and February can be really, really, really cold at times. While Canada Goose is a popular brand, I’m a big fan of Columbia jackets. It’s important to remember that you don’t want to be too warm because once you start sweating, the cold hits you faster.

3. Warm Boots

Winter packing list: Sorrel boots!

A good pair of winter boots is crucial in winter, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time outside. Walking conditions can change quickly in Quebec City, so boots with good traction and the bonus of ice cleats/crampons are highly recommended.

Sorrel is a Quebec brand, and well known for producing high-quality winter boots. Traction is good, the boots are waterproof (winter can get slushy at times!), and the linings are quite warm. Similar to winter jackets, you don’t want boots that will make your feet sweat.

4. Snowpants

Snow pants are an essential part of a winter packing list for a Quebec City winter.

As someone who grew up in Alberta and Ontario, I always thought of snow pants as essential gear if you were going tobogganing, skiing, snowboarding etc. In Quebec, snow pants are an essential part of winter gear, just as important as a good parka and warm gloves.

Arctix snow pants are good quality and not too bulky when it comes to packing. No need to look like a glorified snowperson while you explore Quebec City!

5. Hothands

HotHands are an essential part of my winter packing list, especially in Quebec City.

While layering your clothing in winter is always a good idea, HotHands hand and body warmers are an added luxury that we cannot live without. An absolute must during the long cold nights of Carnaval de Quebec.

Perfect for keeping hands and feet warm, these babies are also great for keeping your “girls” warm, just slide into your bra. Ha!

Tips for staying warm in Quebec City in winter

Winter conditions change throughout the season, especially in Quebec City. There will be several snowy days and definitely more than a few blizzards, but there are times when the only thing covering the ground is ice.

Early in the season, sleet, a combination of rain and snow, is a good possibility. And if the temperature warms up a little after a big snowfall, slushy roads and sidewalks are going to happen.

  1. Come prepared for winter, as well as rain. Packing a travel umbrella (I use this one) and waterproof boots is always a good idea when visiting Quebec City in winter.
  2. Warm hats and gloves (or mittens) are an essential part of winter. On incredibly cold and windy days, ski goggles (yes!) can be a lifesaver. Trust me, you are not likely to be alone in this.
  3. Dress in layers whenever possible. You can always take something off if you are too warm.
  4. Thermal shirts and underwear are recommended if you plan to do a lot of outdoor activities.
  5. When choosing which things to do in Quebec City in winter, remember to plan like-minded activities on the same day. You may not want to go tobogganing and then hit up a museum – you’ll be peeling off layers for days (Ha!).

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