What to Pack for a Trip to Minnesota by Season

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Are you planning a trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and are wondering what to pack for Minnesota by season?

Minnesota is a state known for its cold winters and warm summers. It can be tough to pack for such a diverse climate.

I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life, so I totally understand how hard it can be to know what to wear. I travel around the state a lot since I live a few hours from my family. So I am constantly packing a bag, even though I live here.

I’ve created a Minnesota packing guide that lets you in on everything that you’ll need in each season, so you don’t have to wonder if what you’re packing is right.

A view of Lake Superior and the shoreline, with two people standing on the rocks near the water.

What to Pack for Minnesota

Deciding what to wear in Minnesota for a visit can be hard, so in this checklist, I’ll cover everything that you should pack for your visit in all seasons, so you’ll be ready for your travels. Then, I’ll dive into more season-specific items to bring.

πŸ‘† Clothing Fit for the Weather

For your trip to Minnesota, you’ll need to pack clothing that is going to keep you comfortable based on the weather.

Each season has a different temperature range, so you’ll want to know which season you’re visiting and then base your clothing on that.

I will say that most of the seasons have a similar baseline, but when it comes to winter, things can get a bit tricky (more on that later).

Basic items to pack include t-shirts, pants, sweatshirts, light or heavy jackets, pajamas, underwear, socks, bras, and comfortable shoes.

  • Pants: Pants are a must for all seasons. Even in summer, it can get chilly at night so you’ll want long pants.
  • T-shirts and Sweatshirts: These can be worn in any season and are good to layer, even during cold months.
  • Light/Heavy Jacket: I always have at least a light jacket with me, but in the colder months, a heavy jacket is a must.
  • Undergarments: Of course, you’ll need your undergarments. This might include socks, underwear, and bras.
  • Comfortable Shoes: Bring shoes that are good for walking and that are versatile.
Myself sitting on a ledge near an overlook where you can see fall colors.

πŸ‘† Comfortable Shoes

As I mentioned above, comfortable shoes are a must when visiting Minnesota, or traveling anywhere, for that matter.

I personally love to do lots of exploring when I’m visiting somewhere, so I’m constantly having days with 10k or more steps.

For any walking around town, exploring state parks, or just walking through the shops, you’ll want a good, comfortable pair of shoes with you during every season.

I’d also recommend that your shoes are versatile so you can wear them out to dinner, on a hiking trail, at the mall, in a museum, or just walking around town.

πŸ‘† Personal Bathroom Items

Everyone’s bathroom items vary, but you’ll want to be sure that you have any shower essentials, medications, lotions, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and anything else that you need.

A personal recommendation is to pack lotion and lip balm, since the air in Minnesota can get pretty dry, especially in winter. Keep that skin hydrated!

Another thing that I never leave home with (even when I’m just going into town) is sunscreen and bug spray in the summer. Trust me, Minnesota’s mosquitos can be brutal.

Myself walking on a trail with snowshoes and warm winter gear on, which you should pack for Minnesota.

πŸ‘† Outdoor Activity Gear

If you have any outdoor activities planned for your trip to Minnesota, be sure to add them to your Minnesota packing checklist.

This could include specific things such as skis, hiking shoes, camping gear, or snowshoes.

There are also a lot of places that rent gear if you want to try our outdoor activities but don’t want to bring your own. Even some hotels offer free rentals.

Pink flowers on a blooming tree during spring in Minnesota.

What to Pack for Minnesota in the Spring

Now that you have the basics, let’s go over specifics for what to pack for Minnesota in spring. During spring, we see some rain, warming temperatures, lots of flowers, and more sunshine!

Temperatures are usually around 40 to 60 degrees, but I will admit that this can still feel pretty chilly. Spring is between April and May.

Tyler wearing KUHL pants during spring in Minnesota.
KUHL pants that I am wearing while out for a walk.

πŸ‘† Pants & Shorts

Temperatures change rapidly during the spring months, so I would pack shorts and pants. I always joke around that it feels like winter in the morning and dead of summer by lunch.

I always wear my KÜHL Haven Joggers because they’re lightweight, stretchy, and comfortable. I find that they’re comfortable all day and I don’t need to change.

But when I travel around Minnesota in spring, I always bring along a pair of shorts

My Recommendations:

  • I love my KÜHL Haven Joggers because they are perfect for hiking, biking, walking around town, or doing anything else in spring.
  • For men, check out the KÜHL Renegade Rock pants, which feature plenty of pockets, cinch bottoms, and stretchy material.

** Tyler and I are happy to partner with KÜHL on this blog post.

πŸ‘† T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, & Light Jacket

You won’t need a ton of layers during the spring months, but it can definitely still be chilly, so I would pack both t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Typically, I start the day off with a sweatshirt or long sleeve, take it off around lunch, and then am freezing again by dinner so I put it back on.

I’d also recommend always having a light jacket. This should be some sort of windbreaker or a fleece jacket to throw over your other clothes.

Your clothes don’t have to be super heavy, but just make sure that they’ll keep you warm enough in 40-degree weather.

My Recommendations:

Tyler and my brother wearing rain gear while going for a hike through the forest in Minnesota.

πŸ‘† Rain Gear

As I mentioned above, rain is most common in Minnesota during the spring months. So it’s a good idea to add rain gear to your Minnesota travel checklist.

Pack a rainjacket and maybe even a small, packable umbrella to carry around with you just in case it does rain.

My Recommendations:

A view of a river during summer surrounded by trees.

What to Pack for Minnesota in the Summer

Summers in Minnesota are beautiful with warm temperatures, plenty of lakes to take a dip in, and the sun beaming down on your skin. June, July and August are typical summer months, with temperatures ranging from 60-85 degrees.

πŸ‘† Shorts & T-Shirts

With temperatures being warm and minimal rain, shorts and t-shirts are usually the best types of Minnesota clothing for the summer.

I always choose something that’s lightweight because the humidity can get high in summer. I don’t typically like cotton because it’s so heavy, and I go for materials like polyester and nylon.

I’d also recommend bringing some tanktops, especially if you plan to be out by the lake or outside a lot since the humidity and heat really can get miserable and you’ll want to stay cool.

πŸ‘† Light Sweatshirt

Even though sweatshirts aren’t really necessary for most of the day, nighttime can get chilly and I always find myself wishing I had a sweatshirt.

Don’t be like me and go to a bonfire or out on the boat without one! Plus, the wind off of the lakes can sometimes get chilly, so if you’re by the water, for sure have one.

Long sleeves or pants can also help keep the mosquitos off of you. And unfortunately, mosquitos are everywhere in Minnesota.

Myself hugging my dog while wearing flip flops, part of what to pack for Minnesota in summer.

πŸ‘† Sandals or Flip Flops

Along with your comfortable shoes for walking, I’d also have a pair of flip-flops or sandals to easily throw on.

They can be so helpful for going in and out of the cabin, getting onto the boat, walking around the beach, wandering around town, and lots more.

My Recommendations:

  • I love my Chacos because they’re cute, comfortable, and even good for short hikes.

πŸ‘† Swimwear

You couldn’t possibly visit the Land of 10,000 Lakes in the summertime if you don’t add a swimsuit to your Minnesota packing list. People are always swimming around the state!

I actually always pack two swimsuits wherever I go because then I can let one dry while I wear the other.

Most hotels and resorts in Minnesota have towels, but be sure to check with yours before you go. You might need to bring one of those too.

Myself posing with my dog at an overlook on a Minnesota hike while wearing sunglasses.

πŸ‘† Sun Protection

With how cold Minnesota’s winters are, sun protection can be overlooked. But in the summer (and throughout the rest of the year) it’s so important to protect your skin.

Be sure to pack sunscreen, a sunhat, and sunglasses, especially if you’ll be outside a lot. My skin is very fair and I burn so easily. So trust me when I say that it’s easy to get burnt here!

πŸ‘† Bug Spray

Mosquitos are one of the worst parts of Minnesota summers, in my opinion. I never go anywhere without bug spray.

They can and will absolutely swarm you if you’re outside, especially after dark and near water. So throw some bug spray into your bag. It’s something you don’t want to forget.

My Recommendation:

  • The Sky Organics Bug Spray is my favorite because it actually works! Plus it doesn’t smell like others do.

A view of snow-covered trees during winter, when you should know how to dress in winter in Minnesota.

What to Pack for Minnesota in the Winter

Easily the toughest time of year to decide what to pack for Minnesota is the winter months. Winter usually falls between late November and early April, with temperatures often dropping below zero and rarely getting above 35 degrees.

We get a lot of snow here in the winter, and hypothermia and frostbite happen often. So be sure you’re prepared with these recommendations.

πŸ‘† Layers, Layers, Layers!

I can’t stress this enough. Growing up in Minnesota, we were always told, “You can always take a layer off, but you can’t put another on if you don’t have it!” It couldn’t be more true!

When I’m getting dressed to spend time outside, I always start with moisture-wicking base layers, and then add thicker layers on top. Sweatshirts and sweatpants are great for keeping warm, but I also sometimes use a fleece.

Then I finish it off with a weather-proof jacket, and snow pants if I’m going to be outside for a long time. Being prepared and knowing how to dress for Minnesota winter is so important!

My Recommendations:

Tyler sitting on a chair, wearing warm Minnesota winter clothing with snow-covered trees behind him.

πŸ‘† Warm Boots & Socks

If you’re asking me, I would say that warm, waterproof boots are the most important part of what to wear in Minnesota winter.

My feet get so cold, so easily, and when you’re walking around outside on the snow and ice, they get cold even faster.

I really recommend choosing a pair that are waterproof and are rated for cold temperatures. This way, you’re covered for extreme cold and snow.

Along with your boots, pair them with a thick pair of wool socks to keep your feet toasty. I used to go snowmobiling with bad boots and thin socks, and I was always miserable and almost crying by the end of the day. Invest in good footwear!

My Recommendations:

  • The Baffin Canada boots are what I wear. They are so comfortable, warm, and are rated for up to -40 degrees.
  • Here are the men’s Baffin Wolf Snow Boots that are also really warm and are rated for very low temperatures.
  • I LOVE my thick Smartwool socks in the winter because they keep my feet so warm when paired with my boots.
Myself and my dog walking down a trail in winter while wearing what to pack for Minnesota, including warm clothes.

πŸ‘† Warm Jacket & Snow Pants

It can get really cold here in Minnesota in winter, so you’ll also want to have a warm jacket and possibly a pair of snow pants for your Minnesota winter clothes.

A warm jacket is a must. I’d recommend looking for one that is wind and waterproof. I also always choose one that comes to mid-calf because it keeps part of my legs warm.

As for snow pants, definitely get a waterproof pair, and try to avoid cheap ones because they’re typically pretty thin.

But, you don’t really need snow pants unless you’ll be playing in the snow, skiing, snowshoeing, or walking around outside for a long time.

Myself standing on a snow-covered trail while wearing a white hat and black vest.

πŸ‘† Hat & Mittens

Your fingers and toes are the body parts that will get cold the fastest, so have a nice, thick pair of mittens.

I have a few pairs that are waterproof, and they’re definitely the way to go for what to wear in Minnesota winter. That way, if you end up touching the snow, you’ll still stay warm and dry.

You’ll also want a had because a lot of heat escapes from your head. I also have used a lined headband in the past, but they aren’t as warm.

My Recommendations:

  • These ski mittens are really warm and touchscreen-compatible and are especially perfect for outdoor exploring.
  • If you prefer gloves, these ones are great for keeping you warm without having to wear mittens.
  • These are very basic winter hats that work for being out and about.
  • For those who don’t want hat hair, check out this headband for keeping your ears warm.
  • I also love having a pair of hand warmers to keep my fingers warm. I love this rechargeable pair that also doubles as a power bank.

A hiking trail surrounded by bright yellow fall foliage.

What to Pack for Minnesota in the Fall

Spring and fall in Minnesota are pretty similar, with temperatures being about the same from 40 to 60 degrees. Fall is very short, typically from September to October. Everything that you’ll want to pack is also very similar, so I won’t go too deep here.

πŸ‘† Pants, T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, & Light Jacket

Similar to the spring months, you’ll want versatile clothes that can be fit for the wide range of temperatures that we get here during the fall months.

It can be freezing cold in the morning and sweltering hot in the afternoon, so I would pack a variety of clothes like shorts, t-shirts, pants, and sweatshirts.

A light jacket is also nice to have for those chillier mornings. I honestly just keep a fleece jacket in my car at all times so I’m never without one.

Again, you can always layer these and take off what you don’t need. As a Minnesotan, you’ll hear me talk about layering all the time.

Two trees covered in snow in a field during winter in Minnesota.

Tips for Staying Warm While Visiting Minnesota

You might be nervous about staying warm during your visit to Minnesota, being that we see a lot of snow and very cold temperatures. In fact, almost every time I tell someone I’m from Minnesota, they ask if it ever gets warm here.

These are some of the tips that I personally use to stay warm, and I think that you might find helpful too.

  • Layers, layers, LAYERS! Use layers to your advantage. They’re really the best way to keep yourself warm on those frigid cold days. You can take them off if you need to, but you can never add more that you don’t have.
  • Hand and toe warmers are your friends! When my fingers and toes get cold, the day is over. So use these to keep extremities warm for longer.
  • To avoid frostbite and hypothermia risk, cover all exposed skin when going outside.
  • Don’t skimp on the boots. Boots are your most important piece of gear to keep your toes warm. So be sure to get some good ones!
  • Use sunglasses or ski goggles to protect your eyes from the cold. Sometimes the cold and wind can make it hard to see. So use these to protect your eyes from the wind.
  • Avoid cotton, since it can soak up sweat and make you even colder. Choose moisture-wicking base layers instead.

Myself and my dog standing on a trail with a waterfall behind me during summer.

Tips for Warding Off Mosquitoes While Visiting Minnesota

On the other hand, if you’re visiting in summer instead of winter, you’ll probably experience a pretty annoying little thing called mosquitos.

These guys can be a real annoyance to your day, so use these tips to ward them off as best as you can.

  • Avoid using scented lotions, sprays, sanitizers, etc. These all attract mosquitoes and will make you their target.
  • Instead, use lavender or lemon eucalyptus essential oils. Mosquitoes don’t like these smells.
  • When outside after the sun goes down, wear long sleeves and pants to limit the amount of exposed skin.
  • Mosquitoes don’t like smoke, so having a bonfire outdoors helps keep them away.
  • Use a bug repellent that actually works. This natural Sky Organics Bug Spray is a great option that smells good, is deet-free, and keeps bugs away.

Wrap-Up: What to Pack for Minnesota

If you’re visiting Minnesota, it can be really tricky to understand what to pack, since we have such changing seasons throughout the year.

But in general, just pack your normal clothes, and then some layers to add on when it gets cold. The basics of travel to Minnesota are just layers, layers, layers.

Now that you know what to pack for Minnesota, start checking out all of our epic hidden gems around the state to add to your itinerary.

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