How to Make the Most of Your Outdoor Activity: Staying Warm
If you come from a warmer climate and this is your first time experiencing the cold, pay special attention to this section.
No matter which winter sport you choose, staying warm is important. Your body needs to stay warm to work properly. When your body is at the right temperature, it won’t need to spend as much energy getting warm which will provide maximum energy for winter fun. The right clothing will help you do that.
New fabrics and insulations are constantly making apparel warmer, more breathable and more waterproof. But there are still a few basics to keep in mind.
Layering your clothes allows you to add or subtract layers depending upon your activity and the weather conditions. In general, the three main layers are wicking, insulating and weather protection.
Wicking layer is what you wear closest to your skin. It’s purpose is to draw moisture away from your body and through the outer layers of your clothes so it can evaporate (think long underwear). Choose silk or a synthetic fabric that boasts “wicking power”. Cotton for outdoor winter wear is a no-no. Cotton absorbs and retains moisture, the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. The wicking layer should fit snugly but not tight to the skin and be loose enough to trap air between layers, but not too bulky to restrict movement.
The Insulating layer is worn between the wicking layer and the protection layer. Its purpose is to keep heat, from your body, in and cold out. This layer includes sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and pullovers. Popular insulation materials include:
- Fleece is a synthetic material that keeps insulating even when wet and dries quickly.
- Wool is a natural fabric and wicks away moisture.
The Protection layer is worn on the outside and consists of a “shell” and pants, which guards you against the elements of winter.
Winter shells and pants should be made from materials that repel water and protect you from snow, sleet or rain and blocks the wind, while also letting perspiration evaporate. Depending on the weather and type of winter activity, you may want to have protective layers with increasing amounts of insulation.
Always look for functional hoods, cuffs, pockets and zippers that will make garments comfortable in all types of outdoor weather.
Socks a single pair of comfortable well fitting wool socks should be all that is necessary for maximum comfort. Too many layers of socks can inhibit circulation and cause problems with moisture and blisters.
Head-wear is essential for warmth since you can lose as much as 60% of your body heat through your head. There are thousands of choices and styles to choose from and depending on weather, wearing a hat may eliminate the need for one of your layers.
Scarves or neck gaiters are especially nice for particularly cold or windy weather. If you do wear a scarf be sure to tuck it in to avoid getting tangled up in your arms or poles.
Sunglasses or Goggles can be an important item to have especially if it is a bright sunny day or windy. Make sure your eye protection has full UV protection.
Gloves or mittens are a necessity to protect your fingers from frostbite. Gloves or mittens should fit so you can move your digits around in your glove. Restricting finger movement can actually reduce circulation and make you feel colder.
Now that you are all geared up, here is one final note: Don’t forget to put on sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. It might seem odd, but sunlight, reflects the white snow and ice back onto your face and can result in sunburn. So cover up with sunscreen and use a lip balm that contains sunscreen. It’s as important to apply sunscreen in the winter as it is in the summer!