Love Winter Like Summer
It’s winter and it’s time to get out and play. When people tell me, it is too cold or they hate winter I try to figure out why they live here haha. Our summers are legendary, but our winters are spectacular. I always say winter fun is all about the gear. Typically, when people tell me they are too cold I look at what they are wearing. If you have a coat and boots on from a big box store that is usually part of the problem. Most of these products from the BIG BOX stores have low breathability and waterproofing. The second reason is that they have on cotton pants and a shirt with no layer wear. I love cotton but it won’t keep you warm. It’s great if you are from the home to the car quickly but a nail in the coffin if in the back country.
Layering isn’t just a fashion statement it is a critical part of a winter outdoor ensemble. When planning on enjoying outdoor activities the first thing you should put on over your skivvies is a moisture wicking shirt and pants. Moisture wicking layer wear will keep your body dry by moving perspiration off your skin, so you are not cold and damp. This helps your body regulate temperature. Moisture wicking layer wear is typically synthetic but can also be wool. What you put on over that depends on your planned activities and how cold it is outside. Some people just “run hot” and don’t need a lot of insulation but most of us like to have something that helps us retain the body heat. You can get a moisture wicking base layer of varying weight to help with warmth, but the first goal of that layer is to wick moisture. A second or mid layer will help you maintain body heat. There are many companies that make under gear layer wear but some of these products are not equal to the task of being under outdoor gear with heavy zippers and suspenders rubbing on them. These under products will show abrasion marks. Also look for something that is anti-microbial, so you don’t smell like a locker room.
What goes on outside depends on the activity. Now a jacket from the big box store is ok if you are just going to roll around in your front yard with your kids for an hour. You will be wet from the snow penetrating the jacket and because your perspiration had nowhere to go. When back in the house you can change out of your wet clothes and hang your jacket to dry. If you are out skiing or riding a snow machine that does not work. There are many companies that make activity specific outdoor apparel and some that make cross over apparel. When skiing you typically don’t need the high strength nylon material that is needed when on a snow machine. Riding between trees, the edge of a trailer and sometimes your equipment will tear most conventional skiing apparel and a big hole in the backcountry is a bad thing. Durable nylon is important. The fabric must be breathable. Breathability is the ability of the fabric to allow perspiration evaporated from the body to move outside the fabric. Why is this important? When we move the wet air off our body, we can maintain our temperature and be more comfortable. Look for products that are proven winners; Gortex® Sympatex, and HydrX Pro™. These are usually a two layer system of waterproof, breathable material that is designed to keep water on the outside and is typically bonded to a waterproof membrane. When looking for a jacket, bib/pant or monosuit you are looking for numbers like 20,000mm/8,000g/m² the first number is how waterproof the item is and the second is it breathability.
Whatever outdoor activity you are participating in go to a retailer that has staff that specialize in gear and apparel to help point you in the right direction. They know how things are supposed to fit and can help you get the right gear the first time. Get the right gear now and you will love winter as much as you love the summer.