I love fall with its beautiful changing colours and one of my favourite ways to enjoy the season is to spend a weekend in a cabin. Well, I pretty much enjoy that year-round, since summer has the advantage of lake swims, winter has the fun sports and fireside hangs,  and spring has sugar shack season. What can I say, I love cottage life.

Knowing The Details of Your Cottage Trips

In my experience, there are typically two types of chalet/cottage/cabin weekend getaways. The first one is where nature is the attraction. You’re going to hike, be outdoors, and take in the beautiful fall colours. The second is where the cottage itself is the attraction. Maybe the cottage features a hot tub or sauna, a fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, and is incredibly cozy and your goal is to relax with friends or alone.

Weather, Activities, Vibe, Trip Length

As always, my top questions before building any packing list are: what are the weather, activities, vibe, and trip length?

We can already fill in vibe and length, because those are: a weekend, likely starting Friday evening and ending Sunday mid-day when you have to return to real life. As for the vibe, well, it’s kind of a given it’s either cozy or sporty or some combination. Maybe there’s a world in which it’s bougie cottage, but that’s not a vibe I’m prepared to cover.

So that leaves weather and activities. Let’s assume it’s anywhere from 5 degrees Celsius (41 F) to 20 C, or 68 F for you lucky folks who live in the south.

Next is activities. I think the main question is hiking in this situation. Are we talking about light walks in cleared paths or trailblazing day-long hikes? This may impact how technical you need your clothing to be. Other than that, most activities at a cottage can be done with the same types of clothes, from sitting around a fire pit to cozying up in front of a movie.

Choosing Outerwear for the Cottage

If it’s raining, pack a raincoat. Even if you don’t plan on being outside for very long. And if you do, then make sure you have a good raincoat that’s suited to the amount of water exposure. For my breakdown of jacket weatherproofing, check out my video on how to pack for the rain.

If you plan to be hiking, think about using the onion style of dressing:

  • Inner layer: merino wool base layer
  • Mid layer: fleece or sweater or insulated padding
  • Outer layer: wind-breaker or rain shell.

If it’s not rainy and you’re not trying to summit three mountains in a weekend, here’s my outerwear suggestions on a spectrum, from cold to warm.

Which one you pick is absolutely up to you, and the weather. You can also easily mix and match many of these to layer up or shed layers throughout the day.

What Clothing to Pack


Again, if you’re hiking or there’s a chance of rain, this would be the biggest influencer on pant selection. In these cases, I’d go for something in a technical fabric that’s water repellant, or some leggings or joggers you like for active hiking or running.

As for the rest of us, anything goes, from jeans, sweatpants, to sweater pants and pjs for lounging around. I’d recommend bringing at least one outside pant and one inside pant so you’re never caught wearing muddy or wet jeans to relax.


As for tops, I think anything goes here. Whatever makes you comfortable. I like bringing some funny sweatshirts or cozy, even ugly or vintage sweaters because if not at a chalet, then when? Amiright? Just make sure again that you bring enough to have a sweater for outside and something different to lounge or sleep in, in case your one sweater smells too much like camp fire.


If you’re hiking, then first, cover your bases for that activity. Once that’s covered, my favourite other pair of shoes to bring to a cottage are boots. Ideally somewhat weatherproof ones, but they don’t have to be full-on rainboots unless it’s raining.

One pair of shoes you shouldn’t forget is slippers! Cottage weekend is supposed to be cozy, so pack your own or big thick socks.


The last few items I’d recommend packing for a weekend at the cottage are: hat, gloves, a bathing suit if you have spa or hot tub access, or to enjoy a polar bear dip. Bring warm socks too, sunglasses, and cozy pjs.

For bags, if you can fit everything into a duffle bag, great! Just remember to bring a special bag or plastic bag for your dirty shoes if you’re not wearing them back home because chances are they will be muddy or dirty.

My Latest Cottage Packing List

andrea zoellner packing fall

This past month, I spent a weekend at a cottage in Magog, Quebec and packed all I needed in one small bag. Take a look at my packing list to find out how to pack for your own weekend getaway this fall season.

Packing list for a cottage in the fall

My packing list included:

how to pack for fall cottage getaway

In Magog, I mostly hung out with my family and friends, but I also went horseback riding! I hadn’t done it in a while but it was a lovely alternative to my usual hikes.

horseback riding in Quebec
horseback riding in Magog, Quebec