Packing for any trip is anxiety-inducing. But packing for a trip to the South Pole? That’s next level. I know all too well, because I recently spent weeks stressing about what to bring, and perhaps just as importantly what to leave behind, for a 10-day Highlights of Antarctica cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions.
In addition to packing the biggest parka I could find and the warmest cashmere sweater I own, I decided I needed a pair of jeans because, well, jeans go with everything. While I’m a huge fan of Levi’s best-selling jeggings, I knew I’d need a pair that were as warm as they were comfy. Fortunately, I found Heipeiwa’s Fleece-lined Winter Jeans. They start at Amazon, and they can be customized to more than 41 different styles; so even if you’re picky, like me, you’ll find the perfect pair for you.
First of all, I was impressed that the fleece lining comes in three levels of thickness: microfleece (the thinnest), regular fleece, and a faux shearling (the thickest). Because I was traveling to one of the coldest places on earth, yet also wearing these indoors on a luxury cruise ship between zodiac landings, I went with regular fleece. So far, they’re warm enough for outside adventures when the temperature is below freezing. Yet, they don’t make me sweat when I sport them in my heated suite on the ship. Heipeiwa’s Fleece-lined Winter Jeans are the perfect mid-weight material for a cold-weather cruise.
For fit, you get to choose between skinny, relaxed, and boyfriend. I opted for skinny, but I went up a size because I like my skinny jeans a little looser. For the waist, you can pick from elastic, a zipper, a drawstring, or buttons. I went with the classic zipper style because it came with front pockets and back pockets deep enough to hold my passport, my phone, and my cabin key.
And when it comes to colors, there are almost too many choices — including a pair with some serious bling — which is exactly why savvy shoppers get more than one pair. And they come in sizes XS-5XL. While I sized up, most shoppers say these jeans run true to size.
Of course, it would be remiss not to mention that these jeans also come in both mid-rise and high-rise. In fact, Heipeiwa’s Fleece-lined Winter Jeans were deemed the best high-waisted jean on Travel + Leisure’s list of the Best Fleece-lined Jeans of 2023 (Duer’s Fireside Pant won best overall.) Despite having a higher waistline, these pants aren’t constricting because they’re a polyester spandex blend with just the right amount of stretch. Because they’re so forgiving, they’ve actually become my go-to jeans for when I’m bloated. I never thought I’d opt for jeans on days when I’m carrying extra water weight. Nevertheless, I find myself reaching for these just as often as I reach for my favorite lounge pants.
Still, my favorite part about these jeans, at least for winter travel, is that you basically get two pairs of pants – a base layer and an outer layer – for the price of one. For trips to colder places, I normally have to pack my Icebreaker thermal leggings to wear under my go-to travel pants. But because these jeans are fleece-lined, I can leave my leggings at home. It frees up space in my suitcase, and that means I have one less thing to wash. That said, despite being lined with fleece, these jeans don’t feel bulky. Because the material is polyester, they’re still incredibly lightweight.
My only cautionary tale is that these jeans will shrink if you put them in the dryer on high. I made this mistake the first time I washed them. Fortunately, they’re super stretchy so I was able to fit in them again. But now I know to make sure to tumble dry on low, or hang dry. Fortunately, the polyester material is not only stretchy, but it’s also fairly moisture-wicking. In my experience, these jeans take about half as much time to dry as traditional denim.
Another perk of polyester? It’s super soft, which is something other shoppers are noticing too. “The softest, most comfortable pair of pants I have owned,” wrote one traveler who got these jeans for a trip to Iceland. Still, because I’m so active when I travel, the reviewer that really sold me on these jeans was this one, who ordered a pair for a trip to Washington state where they hiked in snow: “I was pleasantly surprised by this product. These held up really well [and] had enough stretch in them to be comfortable for hiking but did not stretch out and most importantly kept me warm.”
Another customer, who praised the price and fit of these jeans in their five-star review, wore theirs while on vacation in Aspen and found them to be warm enough for late nights out on the town. Yes, they may be fleece-lined, but they aren’t frumpy jeans by any means. I’m even planning on wearing them to the opening of Cape Town’s finest new luxury hotel, Future Found Sanctuary, later this month.
That’s right, after Antarctica I’m headed to Africa. And I’m bringing the same suitcase, filled with the same pieces, on both trips. So, the fact these jeans made the cut is a big deal. They’re warm enough for Antarctica, cool enough to wear in the evenings in Africa, and ideal for most destinations in between.
So, if you’re in the market for a “nice cold-weather traveling jean” as one satisfied shopper calls them, or simply a “nice traveling pant that looks like denim but feels like fleece” (as I call them), you’re in luck. It only takes two clicks to get Heipeiwa’s Fleece-lined Winter Jeans in your shopping cart. Now, if only we could say the same for packing.
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