Proper Winter Clothing Will Keep You Comfortable
Just because the weather turns cold doesn’t mean that you stop enjoying being outside. It just means that you make sure that you have the proper clothes to keep you warm and dry when you are outside in the cold weather. You may be a skier, snowboarder or hiker, or maybe a mom or dad sledding with your children. In either case, it’s important to understand how to dress for the outdoors in the winter.
The most important concept is layering your clothes. It’s much better to wear multiple layers of clothing rather than just throwing on a bulky, heavy jacket. It’s also easier to move in multiple layers and you can adjust your comfort level by adding or removing clothing as the temperature changes.
Head And Extremities
When the temperature is below freezing, your extremities are the first part of your body to be subject to frostbite. Your fingers, toes, ears and head will suffer first. Here are some suggestions for keeping them warm.
• Always wear a hat when you are out in cold weather. A bare head sucks body heat out of your body. Forget about “hat head”. You need to protect your head when you are out in freezing weather. Wool is a good fabric for a hat because it retains its insulating properties, even when it is wet. L.L.Bean has a variety of hats and gloves or mittens to choose from.
• Gloves or mittens are essential. Mittens actually keep your hands warmer because your fingers can warm each other. When you are buying gloves or mittens, look for ones that have Thinsulate insulation. Thinsulate is a product made by 3M corporation. It works by trapping air in its many small fibers. That layer of air will protect your warm body parts from the outside air. You also want to look for a product that is water resistant.
• When you are buying socks it’s important that you choose socks that are water resistant as well as being well insulated. There are many synthetic materials that will do this. It’s also important that they are able to wick away moisture. Your feet need to stay dry as well as warm when you are outdoors. I have a pair of socks that are made of possum down (who knew!) and they are extremely warm. Two pairs of socks will go a long way in keeping your feet warm.
Everything Else (Torso)
Here is where layering is most important. The layers trap your body heat and insulate you from the cold.
• Your first layer that is right next to your skin should be able to wick away moisture. Once you get moving, you will sweat. Avoid cotton shirts because when they get wet they will not keep you warm. Look for a synthetic material that has wicking properties. Eastern Mountain Sports sent me a shirt to try out and I have to say that I love it. It’s the EMS Women’s Techwick Essential Crew and it’s on sale right now. It has those wicking properties that I mentioned above. When it’s cold you can wear it right next to your skin and add additional layers. When it’s slightly warmer weather, you can wear it as a standalone. I have really enjoyed wearing this shirt because it is so soft and lightweight. It has long sleeves and is long enough to tuck into my pants or to just wear it loose. It’s slightly tapered at the waist which looks good and it comes in a variety of colors. It would make a great gift for that outdoors person on your list.
• Once you have your first layer, your second layer should be a fleece, wool or flannel layer. I personally like wool because it will continue to insulate you even if it gets wet.
• Your outer layer should protect against rain and wind. But remember, you don’t need a bulky jacket because you already have two layers holding in your body heat. So lighter is better. Look for jackets that have sealed or coated seams and shielded zippers. These extras will help to keep your body heat where it belongs.
• When you’re choosing pants, stay away from denim jeans. They are heavy and take forever to dry. Choose pants made with lightweight synthetic material that will keep you warm and dry. Don’t forget to include a layer of long underwear first. You’ll want to insulate your lower body just like you did your torso.
Now you know how to dress for outdoor activity in the wintertime. With the proper clothing, you will be warm and comfortable as you head outside to participate in winter sports, or to just build a snowman with your children.