Everything I'm Packing for a Montana Ranch in the Winter
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As one of the founders of Just Packed, I've made it my mission to create the ideal packing list wherever I go. So when it came time to pack my bag for a 3-day trip to Montana, specifically Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, I quickly made a game plan.
At the end of the day, my packing list needed to cater to warmth and comfort. Winters out west aren't kidding around — the snow, sun, wind, and general below-freezing temperatures informed every single item that went into my luggage.
Most of my suitcase would be the clothing and accessories I'd need for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing through the mountains — layers, waterproof pieces, and other cold-weather essentials (February temperatures range from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to the mid-30s). I also wanted to take a couple of non-snow gear outfits, which I would need for dinnertime. While dude ranch trips lean toward the more casual side, I knew I'd want to get out of my spandex and snow pants in the evenings. I also wouldn't have room for more than two pairs of shoes — one of which I'd have to wear while traveling.
After much planning and perfecting, here's everything I packed for a winter trip to a ranch in Montana.
What to Bring to a Montana Ranch in the Winter
For base layers, I turned to Halfdays (one of the cofounders recently shared her skiing trip packing list). I brought two of each of the Johnson Top and the Sophia Legging. They're soft, warm, breathable, and the compression is super flattering. Whether you're backcountry skiing and snowshoeing like I was, or Alpine skiing, dog sledding, or snowmobiling, these base layers will keep you nice and toasty.
The next layer for outdoor winter activities is commonly called the mid-layer. Depending on the temperatures and level of activity, it acts as a great substitute for larger coats and jackets. This Lululemon pullover was perfect for the Montana outdoors.
Light Down Jacket
I left my big down coat at home, opting instead for this light down jacket from Patagonia. While it doesn't seem like enough to brave the winter chill, it's actually perfect for layering — and was way easier to travel with than my larger coat.
Nordic skiing and snowshoeing call for snow pants with room for movement. I went for a pair of Swix weather-resistant pants with micro-mesh lining and full-length side zippers. Layered on top of the Halfdays leggings, I stayed completely comfortable during two full days of winter sports.
On a dude ranch in Montana, dressed up means a nice pair of denim. My go-to jeans are usually from J.Crew or Madewell — and this high-waisted, straight-leg pair are a fail-safe.
Because where else can you do denim on denim without anyone blinking an eye? While this lighter chambray top isn't the warmest shirt on the market, it was greater for layering with a turtleneck and sweater when I wasn't curled up by a fireplace.
Turtlenecks for Layering
For years, I've sworn by J.Crew's tissue turtlenecks. For this trip, I packed three, all in neutral colors. I wore them to dinner and on my traveling days. The style is seasonally appropriate, but given the fabric, you never feel too stuffy or suffocated.
I packed just one sweater for the trip — sweaters take up loads of suitcase space, after all. I stuck with a neutral, cashmere sweater from Jenni Kayne.
My tall snow boots aren't packing-friendly, so I brought my hiking boots from Danner instead. They're durable and waterproof and take up a lot less space in my suitcase.
While I was tempted to bring my cowboy boots, I veered more practical, bringing this pair of ankle boots instead. Easy to slip on and waterproof, these boots from Blondo served me well — and they've taken the title as my favorite travel shoe.
Leave the ankle socks at home. I brought four pairs of thick socks — two for my snow boots and two for my ankle boots.
Nordic skiing doesn't call for snow goggles, but you do need eye protection from the mountain sun. I brought my trusty Raybans — they've never let me down.
Hat or Headband and Gloves
The last thing on my Montana packing list was some headgear and gloves. I'm not typically a hat person, so I went with a headband to cover my ears and a pair of ski gloves to cover my hands.