How To Stay Warm In The Yukon Territory

Packing for a winter trip is tricky. There’s a host of outdoor conditions to consider (snow, rain, unseasonal heat, biting cold), and then indoor fashion.  Add the fact that you’re heading to a place like Northwest Canada, a vast wild territory that shares the eastern border with Alaska and the ice-burg covered Beaufort Sea on the north (part of the Arctic Ocean).

Number one priority is staying warm—while there can be gorgeous days, winters can be harsh, with temps plummeting to the -40s on occasion. But you don’t want to be that person who needs a dozen porters to carry endless trunks, duffels and hatboxes.

Columbia’s Directors of Toughness traveled to the Yukon, and tested some essential gear—and they each packed only a single rolling duffle. These versatile sartorial picks kept them warm, dry, and, dare we say it, fashionable.

Men’s Compactor Down Jacket

We love this puffy jacket on multiple levels, as so many of its ilk don’t bridge the great divide between the backcountry and everyday life. Not the Compactor—this warm coat kept our Directors of Toughness warm and toasty in frigid Yukon temps, but didn’t look out of place as they shopped for souvenirs or tipped back a pint at the Dirty Northern Public House in White Horse.

Mark Chase, Director of Toughness, says “The Compactor is genuinely my go to jacket. If it’s not raining it’s the first thing I grab. I layer it for expeditions, but I also often travel in it. When you don’t know what you’re walking into it’s the perfect piece to have on standby. It’s so light there’s no point debating whether to take it or not. I just stuff it into my bag and it’s there when I need it. “

The sleek profile makes the jacket perfect for a weather-worthy top-layer, or as a mid-layer under a rainshell. As the name suggests, the Compactor stuffs down into a grapefruit-sized ball—making it ideal for travel (or stowing in your pack in case of inclement weather. And the 600 high-fill goosedown is gathered under the strictest sourcing and animal welfare guidelines out there—something that makes us feel warm inside as well as out. Under the lid is Columbia’s patented Omni-Heat thermal technology.

The nylon material is water resistant, so unless it’s a downpour, you don’t need a shell and heat-sealing technology secures the baffles without stitching, so there’s no pesky cold air leaks. The reflective silver material helps store your body heat without impeding breathability. There’s an inside security pocket for wallet and passport, and two zippered handwarmer pockets that came in handy in the near-Arctic cold.

Men’s OutDry Ex Diamond Shell

Our Directors of Toughness rarely sit still. They run, climb, hike, bike, ski and are pretty much perpetual motion machines. This is ideal for testing gear, but with traditional raincoats, it can be sweaty business. Not so with the award-winning OutDry Ex Diamond Shell. According to Mark Chase, Director of Toughness, the Ex Diamond was worth its weight in Klondike gold while the dynamic duo was touring the Yukon.

“It was a lifesaver when we were ice fishing on Fish Lake, just outside of Whitehorse. I stayed warm and dry, even though it was as cold and wet as I’ve ever been.”

The Ex Diamond was part of Mark’s layering system in the Yukon. He used it in combination with the Compactor Down jacket on days when he knew there would be plenty of vertical gain. “It gave me waterproof armor without ever restricting my ability to move or sweating out,” he says.  The revolutionary new technology that’s the Ex Diamond “secret sauce” turned the world of waterproof breathable material on its head, literally.

Columbia rethought the concept of staying dry and moved the waterproof layer to the outside (where it provides more waterproofness, breathability, and durability than competing brands). Then they put a bunny-soft wicking lining inside, next to skin for comfort.

Men’s Canuk Titanium OutDry Boot – Coming Fall 2017

Boots are deal breakers when it comes to long hikes. Buy a boot with insufficient support or hot spots and an hour can feel like 10. But find a pair that fits great, has flypaper-like traction and cushions your feet, and you’re ready to take on the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail. Columbia paired two A-list technologies in the Canuk—Omni-Heat Reflective and OutDry Extreme.

In layman’s terms, that means that your feet stay warm and dry—always. In fact, the boots are rated to keep your tootsies warm down to -65 degrees Fahrenheit. Yep, you read that right….more than 60 degrees below freezing.

“I’ve worn the Canuk’s on a glacier in Iceland, a frozen lake in the Yukon, and freezing mountain passes down to -38,” says DOT,  Mark Chase. “The boots deliver.”

And the soles have a special collaboration with Michelin Footwear. The OutDry keeps water out (and lets sweat evaporate), but it’s the 600 grams of synthetic insulation that wards off bone-chilling cold.

Women’s OutDry Ex Diamond HeatZone Long Parka 

When temperatures plummet, consider the Women’s HeatZone Long Parka. The thigh-length cut and faux-fir lined hood give it street-smart looks with backcountry chops. This jacket is an insurance policy against having to wimp out on a cold day.

It is waterproof and breathable, thanks to OutDry Extreme, the pinnacle of waterproof breathable technology. The insulation is a luxurious 1000 TurboDown that’s a combo of 900 Fill Power water resistant Goose Down (responsibly sourced) plus 100 grams of Omni-Heat Thermal Insulation. We challenge you to find something this warm and this gorgeous. Heat Seal technology keeps the down in place without pesky cold air leaks.

Just in case you need to cool off, there’s under arm venting and a two-way zipper. And there are so many pockets that even the pickiest of organizers stayed happy. A couple are even big enough to tote a paperback, sunglasses and passport.

“I don’t know what I would have done without the OutDry Extreme Heatzone Parka when we were in the Yukon wilderness,” says Faith Briggs, DOT. “We rode dog sleds  in frigid temperatures and whipping winds and I didn’t have to worry about my core getting cold, which is of the utmost importance when braving extreme temperatures.”

Northern Ground Baselayer (Expedition Weight)

We admit it—we live in baselayers in the winter. And the Northern Ground is definitely living the good life. The fitted top and pants are made of a soft Polartec material that’s stretchy without being skintight. There’s a drawcord waist and gusset for range of movement. Our DOT’s loved the thumbholes so they could pull the sleeves of the Half Zip Top over their hands on cold days when they didn’t quite need gloves.

“The Northern Ground Baselayer tights and tops are my newest must haves for any cold weather expedition. DOT, Faith Briggs swears by them. “I wore Northern Ground every moment of our adventure in the Yukon, which included temperatures down to -37 degrees. They are so comfortable, soft and warm, and are great for layering,” she reports.

And the length (26-inches) in the back ensures there’s no gaper gap when you lean over to buckle your boots.

Watch the entire Directors of Toughness experience at the Yukon here: