Whether you need to venture outdoors during winter for work or fun, it’s important that you stay well insulated from the cold. Inadequate protection from the chilly air and dampness can lead to an attack of hypothermia or irreversible injuries from frostbite.
While taking warm food and fluids and keeping active will help keep your body temperature up, piling on layers of the right clothing will prove your best defense against the chill. You also need to invest in essential accessories to keep you warm.
Here are the layers you need to have on to be safe while outdoors this winter:
This layer is important in preventing moisture buildup on your skin that can easily lead to frostbite. Ideal materials for this layer should have the ability to wick away moisture and keep your skin dry. It is essential to avoid cotton in the base layer as it is highly absorbent and tends to retain water.
Merino wool and synthetic fibers are preferable for the base layer as they are light and dry quickly. Merino is known for its temperature regulation properties, making it ideal for when you’re in a sunny ski resort. It has pockets of air through which excess heat can escape when you’re engaging in high-octane activity on the slopes.
In addition to its wicking capabilities, Merino has natural antibacterial qualities that will keep body odors at bay as you work or play during winter. Synthetic or polypropylene materials are equally advisable for the socks and tops that make up the wicking layer.
If you’re engaged in intense physical activity or are venturing into extremely low temperatures, you’ll definitely benefit from a middle layer. A good quality fleece that fits well above your base layer will be perfect as a mid layer. Fleeces are known for their breathability, making them ideal for intense activity in inclement conditions. They also retain heat well, even when wet.
If you’re out on a particularly windy day, your fleece middle layer might work against you. A Softshell jacket or a thin wool sweater can be just as cozy and offer you better protection on drafty days. Wool is preferred for its water resistance and its breathability, but it might take up a bit more space than you like in your travel cases.
Synthetic down, another material considered ideal for the mid-layer, poses similar challenges as it does not compress well. But as a trade-off, they offer excellent moisture management.
Besides their ability to manage body heat and moisture, mid layer clothing items need to offer some practical features. They should have zipped pockets in which you can store your phone or camera to keep it safe from moisture. If you are engaged in an adrenaline-pumping activity, you will appreciate a mid-layer that you can easily unzip to let off excess heat.
If you need extra protection for your head against the cold, a mid-layer with a hood will serve you well.
The first brief of your outer or top layer is to keep the elements out. It should keep rain and snow from penetrating through to the lower layers. It should also provide a solid barrier against the chilly winds that swirl about during this time of year.
As you shop for the pieces of your top layer, you should be careful to read labels and not be fooled by appearances. Some puffy jackets may appear to offer great protection but may actually provide little resistance against precipitation.
You should be circumspect when selecting your winter footwear, knowing that it is your toes’ best protection against frostbite. Your winter boots should be entirely moisture-proof to keep water from seeping into your socks and creating that soggy, uncomfortable feeling.
Make sure your selected boots are the right fit — they shouldn’t be so tight that there’s no room for air to circulate in your feet so that they stay dry.
Equally crucial to your fight against frostbite are gloves. If you are outdoors for many hours, gloves or mittens will ensure your fingers maintain an ideal temperature. They may cost you a pretty penny, but if you can fork out for cowhide gloves that are well-sealed at the wrist, do so.
As you complete your outer layer, you shouldn’t neglect your eyes. Suppose you will be engaged in competitive skiing or snowboarding. In that case, inadequate protection for your eyes might be the difference between winning and losing. Sports sunglasses will keep stray objects from landing in your eyes while also shielding them from the sun’s UV rays.
The Crux of the Matter
Three things should be foremost in your mind as you put together your outdoor winter gear; insulation, moisture-wicking and comfort. All your layers should contribute to these three attributes to be considered value for money. If your ensemble can hit all three nails on the head and still make you look chic, that’s a welcome bonus.