The Weather Outside Isn’t Frightful: Love Getting Outdoors This Winter!
I grew up in the Midwest, where winter meant icy roads, winds that gave you burns and your fingers were forever cold. At that time, I thought I was doing my best layering up, wearing mittens and a hat and while I was on the right track -- I wasn’t doing my best.
What I’ve been learning now is that there are different fabrics and styles of clothing that are much better fitted to keeping us warm and comfortable while still being able to get out and explore in the cold, frigid weather.
The first thing I’ve learned is: is the sport high intensity (like trail running, cross country skiing or Nordic skiing) or low intensity (like winter hiking, snowshoeing or ice climbing)? If your activity is high intensity, it will generate sweat and body heat which means -- you need quick drying, moisture wicking, temp regulating, breathable fabrics! Sound like a mouthful? It did to me at first too.
I learned that soft shell outer layers, lighter, long sleeved base layers and a more versatile mid-layer is the way to go. For me, that would look like a core soft shell puff jacket, a long sleeve, breathable base layer top and a tank underneath for if I get too hot. I also get colder rather easily and would opt for quick-dry gloves that also have tech-tips so I can still check my phone and a head wrap made for “performance”. Of course, REI has all the things you could need to prepare for any outdoor activity you could imagine!
For low intensity activities you are looking for gear that will give you weather protection, insulation, and core warmth. A heavier base layer, down or synthetic fill mid-layers, and a waterproof outer shell can be optimal for these kinds of activities (or when you’re relaxing afterwards!)
Another thing to keep in mind is the weather you are exploring in. If it is extremely cold outside you may need to choose a heavier base layer or warmer mid-layer, even if you are planning on doing a high intensity activity. Also,, if the weather is forecasted to be grim and stormy, you may need to wear a hardshell on your trail run, or ensure that you have windproof layers.
If you’re like me and you get easily cold, I always prepare like it will be an arctic tundra, however if you run warm, you may sweat and overheat rather quickly with multiple layers. It is all about trial and error, but avoiding the beautiful winter wonderland we have coming our way shouldn’t be answer!
At the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to go with a group of women from WoA to Colorado, which had just gotten quite a bit of snow. I did some research before we left and made sure to invest in a few base layers, a puffy outer shell coat and “ski socks”. When we got there, my best friend Megan and I decided to go snowshoeing and ventured out into the cold. We pulled on our leggings, high socks, three shirts and puffy coats, hats and gloves and made our way into the wild and you know what? We had a blast! We kept warm, we came prepared and we had ourselves out in belly-button deep snow. Instead of freezing and feeling miserable, we were able to laugh and enjoy the experience in its fullest.
So, what kind of adventure are you preparing for now?!