There are two kinds of people: those who can’t wait to run outside into that first snowfall – and everyone else. Regardless of which camp you fall into, tobogganing, skating, skiing and snowshoeing are just a few of the activities that can make winter special – but only if you’re properly dressed for them. After all, as the Danish saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” To get the most out of the snowy season, ensure you feel toasty from top to toe with these six winter dressing tips.
Start with three layers
On those extra-cold days when you want to enjoy the outdoors, you’ll want to think in threes: First, make sure you wear a base, like long underwear, that will wick sweat off your skin. Next, layer on a sweater, fleece or lightweight jacket that will retain heat. Finally, add a waterproof or water-resistant winter coat to protect you from wind and snow. The same layering technique applies to your lower half.
Choose fabrics wisely
Avoid cotton at all costs, including cotton sweatshirts and flannel button-ups – the fabric soaks up sweat and precipitation and takes a long time to dry, which will keep you cold on a long day out. Instead, opt for one of these materials to keep you warm:
- For your base: Go with a synthetic like polyester, or wool or silk if you prefer natural fibres. Be mindful of thickness, too. Midweight will work best for most activities. If you won’t be moving a ton, go for heavyweight.
- For your mid-layer: Stick with a synthetic fabric or wool. If you opt for a lightweight puffer, avoid down fill unless you’ll mostly be standing around in dry conditions, since it stops retaining heat once it gets wet.
- For your coat and snow pants: Once again, down works fine for commuting, but skip it if you’ll be sweating from exertion. Instead, try synthetic insulation, a mix of synthetic and down or a blend of synthetic and wool. Though usually more expensive, outerwear that says “waterproof” instead of “water resistant” on the label will keep your under-layers dry even in a climate that faces heavy, wet snow.
Pay attention to sizing
Your base layer needs to be fitted so it lays close to your skin. Otherwise, it won’t be able to properly wick away sweat. Anything that goes on top should have a relaxed fit, so it’s easy to take off and won’t constrict movement or blood flow.
Invest in proper footwear
Cold feet can ruin an otherwise well-planned outfit. Make sure your footwear checks these boxes:
- Laces: Boots that lace-up (rather than slip on or zip up) will maintain a better fit, particularly around your ankle, and will keep your foot in place. Don’t tie them too tight, though! If you strain your circulation, your feet will lose heat much faster.
- High shaft: A taller boot will be more effective at keeping out snow than ankle boots.
- Rubber treads: Grip is important for keeping you upright, so opt for boots with a rubber, lug sole.
Make sure your boots aren’t too big, but still leave room for thick, non-cotton socks. For even more insulation, you may want to try adding an insole.
Keep your head (and face) covered
If it’s a sunny day and the weather is mild, you might not need a toque. But for those windy days when you’ll be out in the snow for long hours, choose a hat that covers your ears. A winter coat with a waterproof hood can act as an extra layer that protects your neck. And if you’re still chilly, a neck warmer (also called a tube scarf or neck gaiter) or balaclava that covers your face will trap more heat.
Choose mittens for the coldest weather
If your main priority is staying warm, waterproof mittens will be a better bet than gloves; they have less surface area for warmth to escape from and your fingers will share their heat. The only problem? Mitts tend to make fine-motor tasks – like adjusting buckles and zippers – more difficult. If you really need use of your fingers or you’ll be doing an activity that generates a lot of body heat, insulated gloves will do the trick. For fit, leave about a quarter inch of material at the end of your fingers and ensure you can comfortably make a fist.