Layering for Winter Adventures
I have been an adventure guide for over 20 years. Spring, summer and fall are my busiest seasons. but every year I count down the days until the cold weather sets in and I start layering for winter adventures. As summer turns to fall, the focus of my layering system becomes temperature regulation, no matter what the weather. Layering is the key to outdoor comfort and safety.
Things to consider when choosing what to wear in winter:
- Layering is one of the best ways to stay comfortable and safe during outdoor adventures. Temperatures may change significantly throughout the day, and the ability to regulate the body’s temperature through either shedding or adding layers can have a significant impact in our enjoyment of winter adventures.
- Non-cotton clothing is critical. Once cotton gets wet, it loses its ability to keep us warm. Select wool, silk or synthetic fibers to help retain your body’s heat.
- Wool is naturally anti-microbial, and the development of merino wool has made wool extremely comfortable. Warmth-to-weight ratio is excellent, and wool’s heat retention when wet makes it a great choice for base and insulating layers.
- Silk is a great choice for next-to-skin base layers. Although not as durable and much more expensive, the insulating value and breathability of tightly woven silk long underwear is very good, and it feels great next to the skin.
- Polyester and blended fabrics are less expensive, more durable, and offer many of the same insulation and breathability benefits as wool and silk. For outer layers in particular, nylon and polyester fabrics can offer the lowest price in water-proof and breathable equipment.
- First Layer (aka – base layer – pulls moisture away from skin to keep you dry and warm) – non-cotton long underwear top and bottom, wool socks.
- Second Layer (aka – insulating layer – provides warmth and can be shed to prevent overheating) – wool or nylon fleece, jacket, or sweater,
- Third Layer (aka – shell layer – provides waterproof and windproof barrier from the snow and inclement weather) – waterproof jacket.
- Hat – retains heat that escapes through your head. Especially helpful when stationary (especially sleeping) or down-time between high intensity activities.
- Wool socks – one of the best ways to keep your feet warm and prevent blisters. An added benefit is the anti-microbial quality, which helps prevent bacteria from proliferating (i.e. no more stinky shoes!)
- Gloves – keeping your hands warm helps with maintaining core temperature as it
- Goggles or sunglasses are recommended to protect eyes from the sun reflecting off the snow. Yes, your eyes can get a sunburn in the winter!
Colder weather means an end to crowds in some of the more popular destinations. Additionally, new activities become available when the temperatures dip. Don’t let the threat of cold or inclement weather prevent you from getting out and enjoying the change of seasons. Fine-tune your layering system to provide optimal body temperature control and you’ll be good to go for winter adventures!