The key to being able to enjoy outdoor activities in winter is dressing appropriately for the weather conditions. The longer you’re able to stay warm and dry, the more fun you’ll have while snowmobiling, ice skating, hiking, or doing whatever else is on the agenda. Once you become cold and wet, misery quickly follows and you’ll just want to pack everything in and call it a day.
So what’s the best way to dress for the elements? Well, since winter weather can be unpredictable, layering is the approach most people prefer. Dressing in layers allows you to be flexible and add or remove clothing as external temperatures and conditions dictate.
But layering involves a little more thought than simply piling on as many shirts, sweaters, and jackets as possible. Here’s how to do it the right way:
The purpose of the base layer is to keep you dry, which means you should wear something made from moisture-wicking fabric that will carry sweat away from your skin. The base layer can be snug or loose, depending on personal preference, and can consist of anything from lightweight thermal underwear to long-sleeved tees or turtlenecks.
While the base layer should keep you dry, the middle layer should retain body heat to keep you warm. Merino wool, fleece, and synthetic materials like Thinsulate are ideal for this layer, as is any battery-heated apparel you may have. The middle layer should be loose to allow for unrestricted movement.
The outer layer or shell is your first line of defense against the cold, wind, and rain, and should therefore consist of the best quality product you can afford. Depending on your intended activity, you should choose a shell that is windproof, waterproof, and temperature rated for expected conditions.
It’s also important to keep your head, hands, and feet warm and dry during your outdoor activities. Fleece hats and toques can help retain heat and repel wind, while battery-heated glove liners, water-resistant gloves or mittens, and insulated boots will ensure your fingers and toes stay toasty warm.