It’s no secret that winters in New York City can be “a bit much,” so in an effort to make things easy on you, I’ve created a fool-proof NYC winter packing list from a local’s perspective. Longtime readers know that I’m not one for small talk, so let’s dive right in!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The 10 Best Neighborhoods for First Timers & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
What to Wear in New York City in Winter
(Table of Contents)
NYC Winter Packing List (Table of Contents)
Step 1: Thermal Base Layers
If I can only offer you one bit of advice while packing for New York City in the winter, it’d be this: stock up on this incredible Heattech gear from Uniqlo. Every year, like clockwork, I swing by at the beginning of November to pick up a few tops and these dreamy leggings (they sell out quickly, so grab them if they’re in stock).
However, if you’re really sensitive to the cold, you may want to consider these leggings instead (I wear them under my ski gear). I love having heattech essentials because layering them with a light sweater or a pair of jeans means I’m still able to dress fashionably and stay warm. Most thermal layers are thin so they never feel bulky.
Pro-Tip: If you run cold, like me, picking up these little gems is a no-brainer when considering what to pack for New York in winter. I have a few boxes around the house for out of town visitors.
Step 2: Comfortable Sweaters
Thick sweaters might seem like the right move when packing for your winter trip to NYC, but that’s not always the case. I’ve learned that when packing sweaters, some strategy is required. Too thick, and you’ll pay the price when you find yourself peeling off layers on a subway platform. Too thin, and you’ll feel instant regret when the wind blows seemingly freezing your bones stiff.
When thinking about what to wear in New York City in winter, consider packing sweaters that are breathable and light — they make layering a breeze.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve learned to purchase mostly cashmere and wool-blend sweaters. Long-time readers know that my most worn sweater is this gem (worth every penny), closely followed by this one (which I have in 2 colors).
At the end of the day, you know how your body deals with cold weather best so pack whatever feels right to you.
If helpful, here’s the exact sweaters I have on rotation in my wardrobe:
Best Winter Coats for NYC
Quality Wool Coat
Packing for NYC in the winter doesn’t need to be complicated. Think of it this way — your coat is going to be the star of the show 80% of the time.
After years of living through chilly winters in NYC, I finally decided to buy a high quality wool coat that looks stylish and doesn’t break the bank. I spent a few months researching and trying on different coat before coming across this gem (pictured above).
I was so impressed by the quality that I bought another color the next winter too. All told, I’ve had this navy wool coat for 4 years and it still looks new. A quality wool coat will do wonders for you during the cold, winter months. This is not the department to skimp on.
You May Enjoy Reading: 3 Essential Winter Coats New Yorkers Swear By
If you only take away one bit of advice from my personal NYC winter packing list, let it be this: the best investment you’ll make is purchasing a phenomenal down parka that covers your bum. If you’re looking for a great parka, here’s the one I’m wearing in the photo (I love it and own it in both black & white).
For another great option, here’s a parka (on super sale, too) one reader raves about. With daily winter temperatures averaging 44ºF (plus windchill), you can’t afford to skimp on a good parka while planning outfits for NYC in December, January or February.
Some Fun (or Funky!) Pants
When planning outfit ideas for New York City in December, I suggest adding some fun colors. There’s something about a colorful wardrobe that adds an instant dash of happiness during gray winter days.
And since we’re packing for fall in New York City, why not step up your fashion game a little and throw in a fun pair of trousers or plaid pants, like these. Likewise, a solid pair of jeans is always a staple in my NYC winter wardrobe. Dark wash seems to be the color of the season, here’s my pick, (pictured below — I suggest sizing down).
While visiting NYC in winter you’ll be spending a ton of time outside. Nothing helps combat the cold like good gloves. My preference is leather (here’s the buttery soft gloves I buy) because nothing beats the warmth.
Plus, these leather gloves are touchscreen, which is a huge perk for anyone packing for NYC in the winter. Here’s another cute pair of touchscreen gloves.
If helpful, I’ve owned these for three years now and recommend them to anyone and everyone. You May Find This Helpful: 10 Best Shoes to Wear for Walking Around New York City (by Season)
When people ask me what to wear in New York in winter, without a doubt I always mention that good shoes are non-negotiable. The second your sneakers get wet or your toes freeze because there isn’t enough insulation in your shoes, misery kicks in. You want nothing more than to head back to the hotel and call it an early day.
This is where our list of what to pack for New York in winter comes in handy. We want you to enjoy NYC as much as possible, and it all starts with footwear.Pack boots that are spacious enough you can wear thick socks but also comfortable enough you can last a long time walking.
What to Pack for NYC in Winter (let’s talk about materials)
- Wool: The material is tried and true and has been used for thousands of years. Made from sheep hair, wool holds heat and is somewhat resistant to water.
- Fleece: Fleece was created to replicate the benefits of wool. The material is light weight and inexpensive but still keeps you warm.
- Cashmere: Cashmere is considered to be luxurious and softer than traditional wool. Although not quite as warm as wool, it’s a popular light-weight material used in sweaters and scarves.
- Silk: Silk is one of the best materials to wear in New York in the winter because of how tightly woven the fabric is when created. This acts like an insulator and keeps your body heat trapped in the fabric.
- Down: Down serves as both insulation and padding and is commonly found in winter coats. Whether you get a coat with synthetic feather or natural feathers, down is some of the best material to keep you warm in NYC in winter.
New York City Winter Packing List (NYC Winter Outfit Ideas)
- Down Coat/ Parka
- Waterproof Boots
- Comfortable Sweaters
- Thermal Layers
- Wool socks
- Comfortable Shoes
Helpful (Related) Links
- Christmas in New York City: 20 MAGICAL Things to Do (And 5 to Avoid!)
- Where to Shop for Christmas: 10 Cheerful Christmas Markets in New York City
- Where to Ice Skate in New York: 10 Impressive Ice Skating Rinks in New York City
- Christmas on a Budget: 20 Free Things to Do During Christmas in New York City
- Where to Drink on Christmas: 10 Bars Open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in New York City
And there you have it, that is everything you need to know about what to pack for New York City in the winter. We hope you found this list helpful and now you can comfortably enjoy exploring NYC in the cold!