By David Shelby
Winter is a great time to enjoy the outdoors but lots of people still head out into frigid temperatures with nothing more than denim jeans and a zip-up hoodie. Having the right apparel and knowing how it works is essential to enjoying the outdoors during the winter season. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when considering what to wear when you’re headed outdoors.
1) To keep from losing heat, you have to cover everything. This means wearing a hat, gloves, waterproof footwear and in extreme conditions a face mask.
2) Know how your winter apparel works. There are many types of synthetic materials that keep in heat and wick away moisture. Now how to properly layer each item and maintain proper warmth for your activity level. It doesn’t do you any good if your snow jacket is breathable if your cotton t-shirt is soaked from perspiration while snowboarding.
3) Don’t worry about how you look. Heavy insulating apparel such as goose down jackets, or layered systems consisting of a wicking shirt, fleece pull-over and breathable shell will appear bulky. It’s better to look like you belong on the slopes rather than freeze and risk injury.
4) Pay attention to temperatures and dress accordingly. Temperatures can reach below Zero when you’re night skiing or out on snow mobiles. If you plan on being out in sub zero temperatures, your apparel had better be expedition rated. If it’s not, get indoors before the sun goes down.
5) Use those vents in your jackets and shirts. Even in winter, you can work up a sweat snowshoeing, skiing or taking on the half-pipe with your snowboard. Use the vents in your garment to regulate the heat, instead of taking off your jacket or layers of clothing, which could lead to hypothermia, especially if you’ve been perspiring.
6) If you’re headed out into extreme cold, wear mittens over gloves. Mittens have less surface area and thus retain heat better than gloves.
7) Use electric or heated gloves, shoes or socks if you have poor circulation. Many of us love the outdoors but have poor circulation to our hands and feet. Electric socks and gloves can greatly reduce pain from the cold in those areas and can save you from frostbite.
8) Don’t take manufacturer’s claims for cold comfort ratings as solid fact. There’s no regulation for how manufacturer’s test their apparel for cold so it’s often left up to them to test. Some may do better than others at being accurate but it’s always best to be conservative.
9) Drink lots of water. Surprisingly, dehydration plays a major factor in winter outdoor activities. Most people don’t realize they’re not thirsty because the body is fighting off cold and they don’t always feel overheated.
10) Avoid alcohol. Although it’s tempting to have a beer after a full-day run on the slopes or a 50 mile trek on your snowmobile. But alcohol actually lowers your body’s core temperature and can hurt you while dealing with extreme temperatures.