There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! I’m a firm believer that the weather should not get in the way of spending time outside for some fresh air. Who cares if it’s below freezing with snow in the forecast? If you’re dressed correctly, you can spend hours in nature without feeling miserable.
Let the following list help you comfortably explore the outdoors even in cold temperatures
Dressing in layers is key to staying comfortable, warm, and dry during any kind of weather. If any part of your wardrobe gets wet while you’re wandering, remove it immediately and replace it with dry items if you have them. Sometimes, you will need to remove or add layers, depending on the changing temperatures or your activity level. You’re likely to warm up quickly hiking or running but need to bundle up if you’re just sitting down.
- Base layer
- This will be the first layer you put on. Think about old-timey long johns the pioneers wore. Now, remove that image from your mind. Today, there are long underwear options in much more attractive styles. The most important factor is the material. They must be synthetic or wool. Look for tags that say “polyester” or “merino wool.” Avoid anything with cotton at all costs. Cotton soaks up moisture and holds it against your skin, robbing you of warmth and comfort. It can also lead to chafing and blisters. Synthetics and wool wick moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and warm. Make sure this layer is snug against your skin to effectively keep your body heat close.
- Middle layer
- Once you have your base layer on, it’s time to add another layer of insulation. This layer should consist of a puffy coat or fleece. This is going to create air pockets that hold onto heat well and prevent it from leaving your skin as soon as it’s generated. If you prefer a vest, this will help focus on keeping your core warm, which in turn allows for warm blood flow out to your extremities. Without it, your system will work overtime to heat up your torso over and over, causing your fingers and toes to suffer from a lack of continual warmth.
- Outer layer
- The outer layer is your first defense against the elements. These items should be waterproof and wind-resistant. Think of it like a shell. It will keep you dry and most of the wind at bay. If you have snow pants, it may be a good idea to break these out for extra protection.
Additional necessary items include gloves/mittens, a hat, and scarf. A balaclava (see photo below) is handy because it works as a face covering in a pinch while also replacing a hat and scarf. If you’re planning to out for a long time or the weather is extremely frigid, you can put hand-warming packets in your pockets.
- Wool socks are the best choice here. Again, I wouldn’t recommend cotton.
- Boots that go over your ankles are nice to keep snow out of your shoes
- Sneakers will work fine if conditions are dry. They also allow your feet to breathe, which can help keep your feet comfortable.
- Research the area before going. Learn about closures, rules, and potential hazards
- Bring a map (and learn how to use it!)
- Let someone know where you’ll be and when to expect you back
- Bring water; it’s easy to get dehydrated in the cold weather without realizing it. Snacks are also never a bad idea
- Back at the car, a comfy pair of shoes and additional socks are helpful for the drive home, especially if conditions are wet
- A headlamp or flashlight is a good idea if you’ll be outside anytime near sunset
Now you know how to handle anything the weather throws out at you!
No excuses-now is the time get outside and explore!