You can adventure in the cold without freezing
For some winter is thought of as a time to hibernate, for others – it’s their favorite time of year for outdoor activities. The clean, crisp air and the quietness of the woods is their paradise.
Whether you like motorized or non-motorized activities in the winter – there is something for everyone. In some cases winter recreation can be a little intimidating – trying to figure out what type of clothing and equipment you need can be overwhelming. If this is true for you – don’t let it stop you. Do your research, ask some knowledgeable friends or family members or stop by one of the local outdoor gear shops and ask for help. We all learned from someone else and sometimes its trial and error – but finding the right gear that works for you makes all the difference.
In the north, as summer fades to fall many start to get out their skis, snowboards, snowshoes, ice skates, snowmobiles and the like. Sports and recreation shops quickly replace their summer season inventory with winter gear.
As the temperatures start to drop in September – cross-country skiers start conditioning for the season on roller skis and dry-land training. Snowmobiles are taken out of storage and dropped at the shop for tuning. Trails are brushed and cleared of debris and prepped for the snow season. The cobwebs are knocked off of snowshoes and ice skates – the bindings and laces are checked to make sure they are ready for the season.
Individuals and families start to pack way their flip flops, swimsuits and beach gear and pull out their winter gear – hats, gloves, boots, snow pants and jackets. Inventory is taken to see what might have shrunk in the closest over the summer or what might have disappeared altogether. If you have kids, you know exactly what this is like.
When dressing for winter recreation activities layers are the key to staying warm and toasty. Starting with a good base layer. One of my go-to first layers is silk long underwear – they are light, breathable and keep you warm. Don’t forget your feet too, they also deserve a base layer to wick away any moisture.
With a good base layer on your feet – next add a pair of Merino wool socks on top. You can find a variety of fits, styles and designs of wool socks that are sure to keep your feet happy in the winter. One word of advice is spend a little extra time picking out the right sock for the level of activity you plan to do and ensure they fit. If they are too big or too small, coverage won’t be in all the right places and could leave you with blisters or worse yet cold toes.
When adding to your base layer, a fleece pullover and fleece lined pants are a good next choice. They are both warm and allow you to move freely as you participate in winter activities. You can also add a nice wool vest over top for extra warmth on your body core.
For outer layers – select attire that is water and wind resistant. Make sure the materials are also breathable allowing some perspiration to escape. If you are planning to do strenuous activities like cross-country skiing a nice light water/wind resistant is perfect. If you are going to be riding on a snowmobile a heavier water/wind resistant jacket is ideal.
Another key item that is often overlooked are gaiters. A neck gaiter or “buff” is a must have – if you’ve ever had a cold wind go right down your neck straight to your core you know exactly why. These are easily slipped on and off and come in a variety of materials – again pick the right one based on the activity you plan to do. There are also gaiters that go over your boots – these can be a life saver when out in deep snow or if you have kids. The extra layer of protection they provide in keeping snow out of your boots is something you will be thankful for.
One last piece of advice, on the coldest of coldest days – make sure everything is covered including your hair. If you have ever experienced temperatures dipping to minus 20 degrees and colder you will understand. Your hair will freeze and you will look like Queen Elsa.
The winter months can be cold and dreary, however, with a little pre-planning you can stay warm and enjoy the season. Remember that you can always remove a layer, but you can’t add a layer on unless you have one with you. Winter is one of those seasons where you can never be too prepared.
Nothing compares to being outside on a cold snowy day – listening to the snowflakes fall, the fresh blanket of white surrounding you and the quietness that abounds. It is one of the most peaceful times of year.