Don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting some fresh air. Frigid weather means wearing additional layers, but once the weather takes a dip, there are still activities you can enjoy outside your warm and toasty home. Certain outfits will need additional layers, apparel that’ll let you move with ease, or waterproof finishes if you plan on having some fun on a snowy day. Whether you’re building snowmen with the family or learning how to ski for the first time, follow the tips below for ways to stay comfortable and prepare for outdoor activities during wintertime.
The winter doesn’t have to be spent hibernating indoors – it’s the perfect time to go out and enjoy nature. This time of year we are gifted natural lighting, stillness, animals, beauty, memories, and a safe opportunity to bond with loved ones in person.
On days when your breath hangs in the air, your clothing strategy is key. Before you head out to the winter wonderland in your backyard or at your local forest preserve, remember to bundle up. Here are our tips for how to dress when the temperatures drop.
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Layers, Layers Everywhere
Layering lets you adjust your body’s thermostat by putting on and removing items to maintain an even comfort level as conditions and your exertion levels change. For a more detailed explanation, read Layering Basics. This clothing strategy is especially important in wintry weather.
Although there are a variety of ways to layer clothing when you're dressing for winter, most outdoor enthusiasts rely on a classic three-piece system:
Baselayer: A thin inner layer that sits directly on your skin and wicks away sweat.
Midlayer: A thicker middle layer that provides insulation and keeps you warm.
Outer shell: A thin outer layer that goes on the outside to offer weather protection.
From base layers to outer shells, here’s a quick guide to layering for every outdoor activity.
Choose Your Underwear/Baselayer Layer
An undershirt will move sweat away from your skin to keep it dry, which is your first defense against the cold. If your skin is damp, the cooling process of evaporation sets in, causing shivering and a chill that can be impossible to stop.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a base layer is that its main purpose is wicking and moisture management, not warmth. This applies to both t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts.
In a nutshell, the base layer helps to regulate body temperature by capturing perspiration and shifting (‘wicking’) it away from the body. In doing so, it assists in keeping you dry and reduces the chance of hypothermia in colder conditions by ensuring that moisture isn’t allowed to turn cold and lower your core temperature.
Base layers come in a variety of forms and fabrics. The most effective of these include:
- Men’s Baselayer
- Women’s Baselayer
Choose Your Middle/Insulating Layer
For the more budget-conscious fleece is a good alternative. Although it doesn’t perform so well when it gets wet. Down and wool work best for keeping heat in so this is what we prefer. We alternate between these two mid-layers depending on the temperature and the activity we’re doing.
We find the down can cause overheating quickly if we are doing vigorous adventures, but if we’re sitting on a snowmobile or tubing down a track, it’s perfect. When we’re working up a sweat snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, we prefer wool.
For layering pants, we suggest wool or fleece. You can pack heavier weights for very cold days or lighter weights for days that hover around the freezing mark. I love how wool keeps you warm but is also lightweight. It’s perfect for a walk on a balmy winter day.
- Men’s Softshell Midlayer
- Men’s Softshell Windproof Lightweight Midlayer
- Women's 3-In-1 Waterproof With Inner Fleece Jacket Midlayer
Choose Your Outer Layer (Shell Jackets and Pants)
For the outer layer, any type of coat, jacket, trench, poncho, cape, shawl or even a vest can work. Obviously this will be the most exposed piece and the wrap that ties all your other layers together. Think about the length of your outerwear in relationship to all of the other clothing.
Going longer is the typical route, but a crop jacket may work best with your other pieces. This layer is left open to expose the layers below so consider the fit and drape of your outerwear before finalizing your outfit.
Additional Layering Tips for Cold Weather
Wearing cotton: Although cotton feels super soft and cozy against your skin, it’s not usually the best layering material, For wet weather or highly strenuous activities, cotton is not recommended because it will get wet, either from sweat or precipitation, and take a very long time to dry. In cold conditions, this could spell trouble. Instead, she says to opt for nylon or polyester.
Confusing waterproof and water-resistant：Newbie layerers often misunderstand the difference between waterproof and water-resistant fabrics, Windbreakers, for example, are often coated with treatments that make people think they’re fully waterproof when they’re really only meant for light drizzles.
Forgetting to use your ventilation: It’s common to see people struggling with their layers throughout the day, constantly stripping items off or putting them on. Pro-level layerers, however, know that the best way to manage your heat is to use your apparel’s ventilating features such as pit zippers, cuff tabs, or adjustable hems.
Ready to layer up? Check out TBMPOY’S winter selection here.