The Yukon has a sub-arctic climate. The weather ranges from sunny, warm summers to cold, snowy winters. In summer, the temperature can be 30°C (86°F) and the hot spot of Canada while in winter it can drop below -40°C (-40°F). The average temperature from December to February is -20°C (-4°F). Whenever you visit, bring layered clothing options so you can dress appropriately because temperatures can fluctuate and Yukon weather can be unpredictable.
How to dress for Yukon winter:
- Dress in layers. Use many thin, warm layers rather than a few thick layers. It will insulate better and allow you to strip off layers if the temperature climbs.
- Dress for the appropriate activity level. Dressing for an active day of snowshoeing will be different than dressing for a sedentary day of ice fishing. You should be warm but not hot and dry at all times. Being sweaty will cause chill to set in more quickly than if you're dry.
- Wear a base layer. A "base layer" is long johns, long underwear, or whatever can provide a warm, light base to your winter gear. Merino wool products are recognised as one of the best base layers available. Avoid cotton. Among outdoorsmen it is known as "the death fabric" because it does not insulate well, and when wet, causes a rapid loss of body heat. Choose wool, performance fabrics, and silk instead.
- Wear more than one layer on your legs. Oddly, some people will wear five layers on their torso, and only one layer on the legs. At minimum, have a base layer like long underwear and an outer layer, like snowmobiling pants.
- Wear winter socks. Warm winter socks are important in keeping warm dry feet. Wool is best, although good synthetic "fleece" socks are often quite good. You can layer socks, but be careful that your feet are comfortable and the circulation is not shut down.
- Wear a pair of insulated boots. Ideally, the lining should be wool or synthetic and not cotton.
- Use a good quality coat, parka, or jacket. Generally speaking, the thicker the better, whether it is a synthetic or a down jacket.
- Wear a hat. Remember heat rises, and you don't want to lose it. you need a hat that is truly warm, not a fashion statement. It should fold down to cover cheeks, ears and the back of your neck.
- A comfortable face protector that fits well with your hat will help minimize skin exposure.
- Wear gloves or mittens. Fingers and hands are very vulnerable to the cold, so keep them covered.
- You will also need a good pair of sun glasses. Tinted goggles are good too but can fog up quite easily in the cold temperature.
- Hand warmers can be useful. Never use these as a substitute for dressing warmly, however.
- A good LED headlamp. You will want one that has different settings for distance and close-up, high and low beam, for more versatility and greater energy efficiency. Northern lights photographer may consider a model with a red LED incorporated for night vision conservation.