Despite the cold temperatures, winter is a fantastic time to be outside. Yet the season is often viewed as something to be endured rather than celebrated. But those who think that way haven’t spent much time enjoying the cold weather. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing, fat biking, and winter hiking are all excellent ways to spend time outdoors—and if you dress right, you’ll most likely be zipping off layers before you’re through. The key to any winter outdoor adventure is understanding how to dress—and that includes adjusting as your body warms and weather conditions change. With some basic knowledge and a few key pieces of clothing, it’s easy to remain comfortable—and warm—as you enjoy all that the season has to offer outside.
Here are 10 tips for helping you stay warm as you spend time outdoors this year.
1. Learn to Layer
You’ve probably heard this advice your whole life—put on a sweater!—but knowing how to layer is a key to ensuring a safe and comfortable outdoor experience. Layering allows you to help control the movement of heat and moisture your body produces. This means how you dress needs to be activity-specific. How you layer for watching a cold football game from the stands is different than when you’re cross-country skiing. But no matter the activity, you’ll want to dress in four basic layers.
Base layer: This is the next-to-skin layer, so it needs to be comfortable and flexible for easy movement. It needs to provide some insulation, but the primary function is that it’s breathable and moisture-wicking. In basic terms, it needs to pull moisture away from your skin and allow air to circulate. Depending on the weather conditions and activity, you can choose base layers with more or less insulation. A good example is Minus33’s Ticonderoga Lightweight Wool Crew (the Moriah for women) a long-sleeve option that fits most winter activities.
Mid-layer: This second layer is an insulating layer. It, too, should be breathable to help manage moisture and temperature. Merino wool is an excellent option here, as it is naturally breathable yet very good at trapping heat as well. Choose one with a zipper to better help you regulate your temperature as you heat up, such as the Isolation (men)/Sequoia (women) Midweight Wool ¼ Zip.
Insulating layer: When you’re dealing with colder temperatures or more sedentary activities, you’ll want another layer to help keep in the warmth. This could be another wool layer or a fleece. Once again zippers are a good idea to help regulate your body temperature after you warm up.
Outer shell: This is what protects you from the elements. It could be a light windbreaker in moderate conditions or a heavy parka when you really need protection. Look for a top that’s both water-resistant and wind resistant. For those doing aerobic activities, look for one with venting options.