Cold weather is supposed to blow in this week, so make sure you are prepared!
If you plan to spend a significant amount of time outdoors, be sure to dress in layers and make sure your extremities are covered. That means a warm hat, gloves or mittens, and warm socks.
Here are our recommendations:
Base Layer: We recommend moisture-wicking thermal underwear, either made from synthetic fibers or wool. If you are going to be very active, go with the silk weight thermals. If you are going to be in a tree stand, riding a snow machine, or sitting on a bleacher watching a football game, go with the heavyweight thermals, which are surprisingly warm.
Exterior layer: You want something for your outside layer that is wind and water resistant and will keep the weather from sapping your heat. Ideally, it will be breathable so any moisture you generate can escape rather than build up inside. We have a ton of options, from traditional military parkas like the N-3B or the M65 field jacket to modern Gore-Tex and similar parkas and the popular Rothco 3-in-1 jacket that includes a zip-out fleece liner. For cold – but not sub-zero temperatures – when you expect to be active, a soft shell jacket may be your best bet because it combines wind and water resistance with excellent breathability.
Mid layer: Everything between your base layer and your exterior layer should provide insulation. This can be a heavy flannel shirt with a fleece over it. It may be a lined sweatshirt or a sweater. You can put as many insulation layers as you want or need, depending on the temperature and your expected activity level. Just be careful not to overheat, and to unzip or remove a layer if you start to perspire due to exertion.
When not to Layer Up
Layering is important any time you will be exposed to the weather for more than 10 or 15 minutes, or when you will be exerting yourself in cold weather. It’s not necessary for a quick trip in the car, such as to pick up the kids from school, zip to the office in the morning and home at night, or to go out shopping. In this case, you need a single garment that offers you both insulation and an external layer that can cut the wind and shed moisture for at least a little while. You can use one of those all-in-one jackets, or a heavy parka like the N-3B. If you have to dress up, nothing beats wool, whether it’s one of our pea coats or a dress coat.
What is important under any conditions are keeping your head, hands and feet warm.
You have many choices when it comes to head wear, from a simple knit cap to a full face mask for cold, windy days or when riding a snow machine. Whatever you decide is right for you, be sure it can cover your ears.
When it comes time to pick your socks, you can’t go wrong with wool. Wear a 100% wool sock or a wool sock with some nylon in it to improve durability. Consider layering on your feet as well, which can be achieved by wearing a sock liner and a wool sock with a boot that is waterproof and may contain some Thinsulate or other insulation.
Finally, we come to your hands. Today’s insulated gloves do a great job of keeping your hands warm. Look for a glove that is insulated and waterproof, such as Rothco’s Cold Weather Duty Gloves or HWI’s lined neoprene glove. Match your glove to your activity and make sure it provides grip as well as warmth.
Winter Clothing = Shelter
Think of your winter weather gear as portable shelter. You can’t take your house with you, but you can keep the weather out and your body heat in by choosing clothing that is appropriate to the conditions and your activity level.
Your body will generate heat just like your furnace at home; you simply need a plan to help contain the heat. Wind is enemy number one as it will suck the heat away from you. Water is enemy number two, because it will cause you to get cold and clammy and it renders many insulation materials ineffective. You want to keep moisture away from your skin, which is why a wicking base layer is important. Better yet, don’t perspire and you will minimize the moisture that needs to be wicked away. One way to do this is to open your zipper, remove your hat or otherwise adjust clothing when you exert yourself so that you do not build up too much heat. Then when you stop exercising, gradually re-apply those layers as you cool back down.
For more information on keeping warm in the great outdoors, read the following sections of Captain Dave’s Survival Guide: