18 Items To Pack for a Winter Vacation at the Cabin

From binoculars to insulated mugs, here are some essentials to put on your winter vacation packing list.

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Solar Powered Lantern Lights
via amazon.com

The Right Lights

When the winter night settles in early, these solar-powered lanterns create cozy ambiance, mimicking the flicker of candlelight without the worry of an open flame. They’re inflatable, so they take up negligible room in your luggage. They also work well as temporary outside walkway lighting.

To charge them, put them on you car’s dashboard or on the table outside. It takes about seven hours for a full charge, which keeps them lit for up to 18 hours.

When it’s time to go outside, whether tromping to the main lodge at night or exploring a cave, a headlamp is a must for adventure and safety. This 300-lumen Petzl headlamp provides ample brightness for lighting snow-covered steps or the outside cooking table. There are three levels of white light as well as a red light, which is great for reading in the dark without disturbing others. It’s splash-proof and takes three AAA batteries.

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Traction Cleats For Shoes
via amazon.com

Walking Safety

If you’re not used to walking on snow and icy surfaces, these traction cleats will give you instant confidence. They’re lightweight and easy to stretch on over shoes and boots, with no buckles or straps.

The hand-wound coils are low profile, so walking on them feels natural. And because they aren’t spiky, you can’t accidentally stab yourself with them or rip your clothes in the suitcase.

A good pair of telescoping walking poles with pointed tips, like these from Mountainsmith, also help keep balance, especially on uneven surfaces and mountain trails.

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Alba Botanica Hawaiian Hand And Body Lotion
via amazon.com

Winter-Specific Toiletries

Winter weather is not just cold;, the air is often really dry. Face and body lotion and lip balm make life a lot more comfortable. Don’t forget the sunscreen. And if you are going to be at a high altitude, some aspirin or ibuprofen can help ease headaches and other mild symptoms of altitude sickness. Pro tip: These travel organizers are a good way to keep track of all your items.

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Insulated Booties
via rei.com

Winter Foot Warmth

These insulated booties are perfect to slip on when you need to go outside to get more firewood. They’re warm enough for hanging out around the campfire or the après-ski deck, but also soft and lightweight enough to wear around the cabin. The ankle-high design with a drawstring on top helps prevent deeper snow from weaseling its way in.

Also, slip some disposable, air-activated foot warmers in your boots and hand warmers in your gloves on the particularly cold days.

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Hydro Flask Water Bottle
via amazon.com

Winter Hydration and Hot Beverage Helpers

Winter air is often low in humidity, which means you don’t realize you’re getting dehydrated. If you happen to be going to a high-altitude cabin, drinking a lot of water is even more important.

This flask is particularly handy because of its double-walled vacuum insulation, which keeps drinks hot or cold all day. Plus, the narrow design means it fits into the side pocket of a backpack, most cup holders and bicycle water bottle cages, while still holding a hefty 24 ounces of liquid. It’s BPA free and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Also, coffee and tea don’t stay warm long when you’re sitting on the deck enjoying a winter morning, unless you have an insulated mug. This 12-ounce stainless steel mug keeps your brew hot for hours, thanks to double-wall vacuum insulation. The easy-to-remove, press-in lid helps prevent spills and heat loss. And it’s BPA free with a lifetime warranty. Make sure your cabin is ready for you with this essential cabin checklist.

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Jbl Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
via amazon.com

Waterproof Winter Tunes

Whether you’re getting psyched up for the slopes or winding down for the evening with a fire, music is integral for setting the mood. This bluetooth speaker is waterproof, in case your first move is to drop it into the snow after check-in.

Its dual bass gives a rich sound, and it connects to your phone or computer’s music library. The rugged rubber housing is made from 100 percent recycled plastic. The rechargeable battery lasts for 12 hours.

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Garmin Etrex Handheld Gps Device
via amazon.com

Winter Sports Navigation

Cell phone service often isn’t available at cabins or out in the wilderness, so a handheld GPS is an excellent safety device. The Garmin eTrex has long been the standard for outdoor adventurers to track routes, distances and terrain.

It uses dual-satellite support for accuracy and comes preloaded with TopoActive maps of trails for hiking and cycling. Two AA batteries provide up to 25 hours of run time.

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Nikon Binoculars
via amazon.com

Winter Wildlife Watching

Whether you want a closer look at mountain chickadees scratching snow off the bird feeder or a bald eagle resting on a frozen lake, Nikon’s century of quality optics makes these binoculars a good choice for birdwatching.

Anti-reflective coatings and high-quality prisms give them bright, crisp imagery, and the wide center focus wheel is easy to turn. The 42mm diameter lens means it can function in the low light of dawn and dusk. There’s a waterproof version, too, which is more spendy, but a good choice for those prone to mishaps. For another waterproof option, you can also consider these ones by Nocs Provisions.

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Patagonia Mens Down Vest
via backcountry.com

Lots of Clothing Layers

The key to enjoying a winter cabin vacation is staying warm. Layers of clothing help you regulate your body temperature over the course of the day and the intensity of your activities. Stick to merino wool or synthetics like polypropylene. Avoid cotton, which traps sweat against your skin.

A down vest keeps your body core warm while allowing more freedom of movement for your arms. A wicking baselayer (AKA long underwear, for old-schoolers) and quality wool-blend socks are musts.

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Karuna Eberl
A freelance writer and indie film producer, Karuna Eberl covers the outdoors and nature side of DIY, exploring wildlife, green living, travel and gardening for Family Handyman. She also writes FH’s Eleven Percent column, about dynamic women in the construction workforce. Some of her other credits include the March cover of Readers Digest, National Parks, National Geographic Channel and Atlas Obscura. Karuna and her husband are also on the final stretch of renovating an abandoned house in a near-ghost town in rural Colorado. When they’re not working, you can find them hiking and traveling the backroads, camping in their self-converted van.