Calgary’s weather can change rapidly day to day or even hour to hour. And then again, the weather can stay constant for weeks at a time. So how are you supposed to pack? Even here, there are expectations as to what the weather is going to be like. On the attached slide, I’ve tried to indicate the most probable types of clothing you’d need to wear if you’re spending a moderate amount of time outdoors in Calgary.
There’s probably no better advice though than to dress in layers. This means that using sweaters, jackets and shells you can tailor make an outfit to fit the weather conditions of the moment. Of course you’ll need to bring along a rucksack to hold any (temporarily) discarded clothing.
Miscellaneous: Essentials that you’ll need at any time of the year include: Sunglasses, Moisturizer, Lip balm, Walking shoes and a Camera. Most days in Calgary are “blue sky” days, so you’ll need sun glasses, even in the winter. It’s dry here. The rain has trouble making it over the mountains so your skin will dry out quickly, especially in the winter. Boots in the winter? Probably, if you’re going to spend much time outside and you want to keep your feet warm and dry. A camera? Never leave home without it.
If you are extremely branded, you’ll also want to bring anything that you can't live without. For example, the recipes for cigarettes, chocolate bars, even Coca-Cola and Heinz ketchup are slightly different in Canada than in the United States (to say nothing of the rest of the world). Personally, I'd suggest just trying the Canadian equivalent. It will add to the experience and who knows, you might even prefer the Canadian version. But if it's going to overshadow an otherwise amazing trip, by all means bring it along.
Luggage and bags:
A small rucksack is always useful to store your bottled water, some munchies, maps notebook and pen or anything else you may need for a day's sightseeing.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you plan to walk about in the city and not use transport - good walking shoes or comfortable trainers are a must. If you come with two boots - don't go home with just one!
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Take your own prescribed medication with you but otherwise everything is available down town
Photo Equipment: Who would forget a camera? Don't forget spare batteries and spare camera chip
I was on my way to Calgary at the end of April, we were DAYS away from the month of May when this HUGE snow storm happened: over 50 cm fell on the Calgary area; over 70 cm in the Banff area! The roads were blocked and my friend and I had to spend the night in a small town's City Hall along with other unlucky drivers.
When we finally got to Calgary, all hotels were packed of course but luckily I have an uncle who lives there and who was willing to let us spend the night. And he told us that sort of snow storm regularly happened in Calgary, sometimes even in May! Therefore don't take any chance and have warmer clothes with you just in case!
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Also, if you're driving in Calgary, don't settle for summer tires; have all-seasons so you're not in trouble in case there's snow.
The weather here can change very fast. Even the locals don't really trust the weatherman. Always be prepared with a sweater, overthrow, or shoes instead of sandles. You just never know here.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: You can rent gear really cheap for the University of Calgary Recreation centre - even hiking boots for ex., so I wouldn't overload myself with bringing too much. Just rent it while you're here.
Luggage and bags:
Very minimal theft from the Calgary international Airport - so dont worry about locks on luggage, unless you have something very valuable (in which case, consider taking it with you in your carry-on if it fits!)
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you arrive in Calgary from mid-October to early-March pack good winter cloths - we get snow, ice, cold weather and LOTS of it! This includes things like a touque (warm hat), warm jacket, scarfs, gloves, and good boots. Of course, if you pack light - allof this is available here in shops everywhere! :_)
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: All available in stores across the country.
The weather in Calgary is quite different than Winnipeg. There is a saying -- "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change". This tendency to change means that you always dress in layers and bring a daypack so you can remove or add layers as it changes throughout the day.
In also means that Calgary has a much shorter growing season than Winnipeg as you can frosts in almost any month in Calgary. It also means that they have milder winters as Chinooks travelling over the mountains mean the possibility of above freezing temperatures in the middle of winter.
Depending on when you come, you could have a suitcase containing daisy dukes and a polar fleece, and wear them both at some point during the week. For instance, right now it is May, and there was a snow storm at the beginning of the week. Last week it was so hotpeople were wearing tank tops outside...be prepared, and ask someone before you come what the report is...not that it makes any difference, the weathermen here are seen as the most unreliable people in Calgary...
During the winter it can get pretty cold, but during the summer it can be so hot you can't sleep...maybe thats why we get cranky sometimes????
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: We have these in calgary
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Yes
Miscellaneous: a couple of pairs of shoes, in case it rains/snows/hails/you spill your beer....
Luggage and bags:
Sturdy, dependable bags/luggage, that if they get really cold will withstand it.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Warm clothing and shoes. Bring a sweater, extra socks and winter boots might not be a bad idea, depending on what you are planning to do(how much you are going to be outside).
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Any items you require can be purchased locally.
Photo Equipment: Video or digital camera that can deal with cold weather.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: This depends on the activity that you are doing. For example, if you are skiing most people already know how to prepare for this and what to bring with them.
I don't think the beach is an option during the winter months as it will be a big block of ice.
Miscellaneous: Again the weather is very unpredictable, and you never know when it is going to snow or be bitterly cold. When I left for Thailand this year at the end of January, it was -43 degrees. We had the cold spell for about two weeks before we left, but up until then it was a fairly mild winter. The average temperature was around -15 to -20 degrees, during the months of November and December.
Luggage and bags:
Sturdy and light gear with bags/luggage that can be locked.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Light to medium at night, dependable shoes if you plan to walk around some of the points of interest.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Not really needed to bring as you can purchase any items you might require locally.
Photo Equipment: Camera of some sort and/or video.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you are planning on camping, firewood ect. can be purchased in most areas that allow open fires. Sunglasses and sunsceen should be a consideration.
Miscellaneous: The weather in Calgary is very unpredictable, being that we are so close to the mountains. However the temperature ranges from about 25-32 degrees during the months of July-August. At night it may rain and may be a little cool(15-20) closer to the end of August, beginning of September.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The weather has a habit of changing drastically in Calgary, because of our proximity to the mountains. Even during the summer, we can get chilly days, and we can still get frost in June, and snow as early as October.
Be prepared for EVERYTHING!
In the middle of winter it may be as cold as -40C or as warm as +10C. For summer, as hot as +35C or it may very well hit 0C. Although you can assume winter will be cold and summer will be hot, extreme deviations are not uncommon. (Think snow in Summer.) However they will not last too long.
If traveling in winter, alongside apporpriate winter wear, do have a t-shirt or two, incase a chinook hits.
In summer, make sure you have a warm sweater, just in case.
Miscellaneous: With the exception of prepackaged ethnic foods, I can't think of too many things you couldn't find in Calgary, should you forget a neccessity or two.
Calgary does not generally get a lot of snow because of the chinook weather patterns, however, the following might come in handy!
- heavy coat with hood or a touque for your head
- mitts/ gloves for your hands
- warm winter boots with good grip for walking on snow and ice
It is generally warm to hot. Dress in layers.
- t-shirts/tank tops
- fleece for evening (it cools off )
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Toiletries are readily available at all grocery and drug stores. Super Drug Mart and The Real Canadian Superstore are less expensive. Canada Safeway grocerty store is generally most expensive.
Photo Equipment: Cheapest places to get film developed:
The Real Canadian Superstore
Costco (need a membership)
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: The best place to buy these items is MEC - Mountain Equipment Coop. You do need to have a membership - very cheap to join and well worth it!
Luggage and bags:
Well this all depends on what you plan on doing. I took a big suitcase and a carry-on bag and did just fine. Most of my clothing was in the suitcase and I packed my emergency supplies in the carry-on.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The weather was quite sunny and warm when I was there so I had shorts, t-shirts, hiking boots, runners and sports sandals, If you are going into the mountains, you should always be prepared for the unpredictable. Bring rain gear and your windgear for protection. Sunglasses are good and so is sunscreen protection. Also, cold weather can occur anytime during the year, so don't forget to bring some jackets, boots, gloves and sweaters.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: The usual toiletries and a first aid kit will do.
Photo Equipment: Camera with wide-angle lens is the best.
Here in Calgary we say, if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes. As I write, the winter snow is melting and one barely needs a sweater outside. We're having a famous mid-winter 'chinook.' But just a few days ago it was -30 C. It can snow here in July and likewise, last Christmas I was cycling in shorts. Everything is possible -- come prepared.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Lots of places to camp!! But this is a high altitude so summer nights can be quite chilly. Most campgrounds these days require pre-registration (a good idea anyway as camping is very popular here).
There are also great opportunities here for mountain backpacking (you need a permit, which can be picked up in Calgary or Banff -- but only if you're backpacking in the National Parks -- to the best of my knowledge, a permit is not necessary in the Kananaskis region).
And if you don't want to carry all that gear (and I don't blame you!!!), the Alpine Club of Canada has fantastic huts throughout the Rockies! Non-members pay a bit more per night and you really have to reserve in advance because they are very popular. But don't let that give you the wrong impression! The Rockies are huge and one can hike for days and not meet another soul (if you want to).
Bring clothes for biking and hiking in any type of weather. It can get very cold on the mountain passes even in the summer. You can rent bikes by the day or week at the Nordic center or any bike shop. Bring those hiking boots.
Miscellaneous: You can even get roller skiis and try going up the mountains.