Unpredictability rules over Montana's weather, and Bozeman is no exception. Snowstorm warnings in July, 50-degree days in January, followed by sub-zero temperatures the next week, and waking up to six inches of snow during the last week of school are all norms here. Parents of first-year students often get confused when they ask when they should send their son or daughter some winter clothes and are answered with a shrug. The first snow usually comes in October, but melts within a day or two. In fact, it is not uncommon for it to snow, then melt, then snow, then melt for a couple months before it finally decides to stay and accumulate. Bozeman and the surrounding areas get a lot of snow, but despite the snow and cold, Bozeman still remains sunny for the majority of the year, making its weather much more desirable than Missoula, the other main college town in Montana where the nearby mountains create a cloudy inversion.
Patagonia and Helly Hansen clothing are the most popular brands here. Puffy, warm ski coats and jeans make up the basic MSU student uniform. It is a good idea to pack several types of jackets—ski, rain, and fleece—for all the different weather conditions. Then, add in some waterproof gloves or mittens, a few ski hats, and a warm scarf or two, and you are ready for winter in Montana. Just do not forget the tank tops, sandals, and suntan lotion for the snowball fights in April.