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The mountain weather is very changeable. Weather forecasts for this area are unreliable. Regardless of what the weather forecast says, you could experience temperatures anywhere from 30°C (90°F) down to around the freezing mark. You also could encounter rain. Mountain weather can change from one hour to the next, from one valley to the next. To cover all of these eventualities you need layers, layers, layers:
All restaurants in the mountains are casual at lunch time. That is, it is common to see people wearing hiking boots into restaurants during the day. Moderately priced restaurants also are casual at dinner time. Even at restaurants selling $30-40 steaks, you will see most people wearing jeans and sneakers or hiking shoes. Expensive restaurants, on the other hand, are smart casual in the evenings. If you will be attending a New Year's Eve bash at an upscale hotel, you'll want slightly dressier attire - a coat and tie if you're a man and a cocktail outfit if you're a woman.
This list of hiking gear was inspired by this discussion thread on the TripAdvisor forum. You may also wish to consider the traditional " ten essentials" to pack for safe hiking (map, compass, first aid kit, waterproof matches, extra clothing, hat, rain gear, extra food, knife, flashlight), and to review the best way to minimize your impact on the national park.
The reason that cowboys wear jeans is that they live in relatively dry climates. If they lived in cold, wet climates, denim would kill them.
When cotton gets wet -- from rain or perspiration -- it loses its insulating properties, and it takes a long time to dry. Wet cotton wicks heat away from the body, and that causes hypothermia.
If you want to undertake some serious hikes when you're in the mountains, you are better off going with synthetic fabrics. And, of course, layers.
Never, never expect conditions to be the same at the end of your hike as they are at the beginning of your hike. If you set out in sunshine, you could end up in rain and, especially at high elevations, even snow.
If you will be travelling in the Rockies during the transitional months leading up to or away from summer -- late May / early June and September / early October -- you can rely largely on the summer packing lists. These lists are predicated on the fact that the mountains can get down to the freezing level even in July and August. However, because of the increased possibility of encountering cooler weather in the transitional months, it would be prudent to "beef up" the summer packing lits with a warm hat, gloves and an extra sweater (jumper) or long-sleeved polar fleece jacket.
This page on clothing for dogsledding has a different perspective on winter clothing, with some additional tips and information.
Very laid back and casual. Jeans with a nice sweater are entirely appropriate for the vast majority of restaurants.
Most of the infornation on what to wear for skiing came from this discussion thread on the TripAdvisor forum.
The interiors of Canadian buildings are well heated. When you're indoors you'll probably be comfortable with a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and perhaps a sweater.
If you arrive in Canada without the winter clothes you need, you can buy them in Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton. Stores that offer good value for money include Mountain Equipment Co-op and Mark's Work Wearhouse. Stores in mountain resort towns also carry the merchandise you need, but they tend to be a bit more expensive.
For some visitors, a stay in Banff will expose them to much drier air than they are used to at home. This can be a blessing in the summer; Banff's highest humidity rating ever was 33 on the Humidex scale, which is considered only somewhat uncomfortable. But visitors who will be skiing for several days may experience some discomfort from the dry, winter air. Comfort measures include: