Our comprehensive guide for what to wear in Banff in every season is compiled by the experts at Discover Banff Tours. (hint: it involves layering!)
No matter what time of year you visit Banff, you’re here to get outdoors and into the wild of the stunning Canadian Rockies. The best way to enjoy your time is to come prepared for the notoriously variable weather. Even in the summer months, depending on elevation and other factors, it’s not uncommon to go from warm, sunny weather to wintery cold over the course of a day (or even a few hours)!
The secret to your comfort is to dress in layers. The key to a good time in Banff is being able to put on and take off layers as necessary to keep you warm, dry, and ready to go in any conditions. To get the most out of what you bring, choose clothing that is lightweight, quick-drying, and fits easily into your daypack.
Read on for our expert tips on what to pack in Banff for summer, winter, and those tricky in-between seasons.
What to Pack in Banff: The All-Season Checklist
Whether you’re visiting Banff in the balmy days of July or hitting the frigid slopes over the holidays, there are a few things you’ll want to bring with you no matter what time of year it is.
One thing that you really don’t have to bring while staying in Banff is exceptionally fancy clothes. Unless you are attending a wedding or special event, the dress code for Banff is quite casual. In the restaurants in the evenings, you will be fine wearing jeans and other laid-back clothing. There’s no need to bring your stilettos or your sparkly evening gown.
A few general tips to consider when deciding what to pack for Banff:
- Stay dry! Shirts made from a synthetic material designed to wick moisture from your skin are preferable to cotton, which can stay wet and risk giving you the chills in colder temperatures. Bring backup layers in a daypack whenever you set out for the outdoors.
- Take care of your feet! Make sure you bring proper footwear for the activities you’ve got planned. Be especially mindful that your shoes have good gripping tread, and are warm enough for the season. Good socks are a must, too!
- Be safe and prepared! Planning ahead for difficult situations can save you a lot of trouble if things go sideways. Make room in your daypack for a small first aid kit, a compass, a trusty pocket knife, and a can of bear spray – just in case!
Banff All-Season Packing Checklist
- Laceup hiking shoes with ankle support or hiking boots
- Cushioned socks
- A daypack or lightweight backpack
- Refillable water bottle
- Long sleeve shirts
- A fleece jacket, hoodie, or pullover
- Sunblock and UV blocking lip balm
- A small first aid kit
- Safety gear: compass, knife, and bear spray
All you need is a great experience to wear all that great gear!
What to Pack for Summer in Banff
Banff is as sunny and gorgeous in the summer as it is chilly in the winter. When the July and August sun beats down on the Bow Valley, the temperatures can soar to the mid-to-high 20s (mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit). Yet, the mercury can plunge when the sun dips behind the mountains, so don’t forget a lightweight jacket.
Bring mostly shorts and t-shirts. However, also pack lightweight long pants to protect your legs from mosquitoes and from scratches when hiking in the brush. You’ll want to bring along sandals for those hot summer days, but also sturdy hiking boots for venturing out on the trails.
Sunblock, sunglasses, insect repellent and a hat are essentials. Plus, bring your swimsuit for splashing around in the Banff hot springs or a scenic local lake.
Banff Summer Packing Checklist
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes and/or sandals
- T-shirts, tank tops, and shorts
- At least one long sleeve shirt for layering and sun protection.
- Lightweight hiking pants
- Light, waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker
- Bathing suit
- Sun hat with a brim
- Insect repellent
Get out to Banff and find a Summer Tour to wear all that great gear.
What to Pack for Winter in Banff
Winter brings huge dumps of the white stuff, making Banff a bucket list destination for many ski and snowboard enthusiasts. When you are properly dressed, you will be able to enjoy the snowy outdoors in comfort.
To survive the chill, you will need warm boots that are waterproof and insulated. Wear thick socks underneath and your feet will stay cozy and dry.
Temperatures can change dramatically in one day, so you will want to be able to add or remove layers. A base layer (thin shirts, pants, and socks) made of moisture-wicking material, like Merino wool, will help keep you dry on the slopes.
Remember: if it is -20ºC (-4ºF) or below, there is a risk of frostbite, so cover up your hands and ears with gloves and a hat. A wooly scarf is a great accessory – wrap it around your face to keep your cheeks and nose warm.
Winter weather in Banff is dry. Bring some moisturizer and lip balm so that your hands and lips don’t become chapped and raw.
A local tip: When walking in the snow, tuck your jeans inside your snow boots. Otherwise, when you take them off the bottoms of your pant legs will be soggy and cold.
Need to rent warm winter boots or a winter jacket? We recommend Snowtips-Bactrax located on Bear Street in downtown Banff. If you mention Discover Banff Tours, you’ll even get a 10% discount on your rentals.
Banff Winter Packing Checklist
- Waterproof ski pants and jacket
- Thermal, moisture-wicking long underwear (base layer)
- Insulated, waterproof outer jacket or parka
- Waterproof, insulated boots with good tread
- Merino wool socks
- Warm scarf and hat
- Warm sweater
- Long sleeve shirts
- Fleece jacket
Now You’re ready to get out to Banff because you’re prepared for the weather!
What to Pack for Spring & Fall
In the transitional seasons of April to June and September to October, the weather will be a confusing mix. You’ll experience lovely sunny days and wintry conditions, sometimes within a few hours. You may experience all four seasons in one trip, so it can be difficult to pack.
You won’t need the extreme snow clothing, but still bring different layers for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. A long sleeve shirt as an underlayer, with a mid-weight fleece on top is a good idea.
Add a lightweight waterproof layer if it starts to rain. Bring along a warm hat and a scarf. Or, buy yourself a souvenir “Banff, Canada” toque at one of the many tourist shops!
Banff Spring & Fall Packing Checklist
- T-shirts and long sleeve shirts for layering
- Comfortable pants or jeans
- Mid-weight warm jacket
- Warm hat, gloves, and scarf
Check out the Discover Banff Tours Blog for more great tips on how to have a great time in Banff no matter what time of year you visit!