Ski costume

4 Quick Winter Clothing Tips

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Photo by Patrick

After surviving a week or two of polar conditions that would make Shackleton hesitate, it seemed like a good time to share some knowledge about dressing to survive winter that’ll motivate you to keep doing things outside—even though you just finished preparing for full-on hibernation.

After all, everyone needs sunshine in winter as much as (perhaps more) in the summer, so why not delay the start to “treadmill season” just a little more?

1. Wear more clothes

Yup, this is true—you do have to put more stuff on. The clothing doesn’t have to be fancy, either, despite what magazines might tell you.

Start with thinner layers close to your skin (choose pretty much anything but cotton) and get thicker as you work your way out. If you’ll be outside for a while, save your wind layer for the top. That old-school patterned fleece from the 80s you found in the attic? Totally fair game—wool is wool, after all.

2. Prepare to be sweaty

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. Once your blood starts pumping to keep your extremities warm way at the end of your legs and arms, you’ll definitely sweat. It won’t evaporate anywhere, either, because of all those layers you’re wearing. (You’ll also instantly begin to sweat the second you walk inside—speed in delayering is key.)

Sweat isn’t a huge deal if you’re only outside for a short time or if it’s not terribly cold. But if you’re planning to stay outside for a while, then getting sweaty means getting cold. Depending on temperatures and exposure time, that means anything from being mildly uncomfortable to starting down the road to hypothermia.

What to do? First, make sure you’re wearing the right number of layers for the weather you’re in (this may take some experimenting). Second, have a way to take off the layers you don’t need and a place to stash them (a backpack, fanny pack, or behind a bush are all good options).

3. Bring extra shoes

If you’re in a place that requires winter boots to get from point A to point B, pack a second set of shoes so you don’t have to tromp around in your boots all day once you’re inside. A set of bedroom slippers is perfect if you can get away with it—lightweight and deliciously comfy.

4. Plan transition time into your day

With all the extra clothing you’re wearing, you’ll need at least 7 extra minutes before and after arriving at your destination for putting on and taking it all off. It’s just a fact of life.

What do you do for clothes in the winter? Do you have a whole other wardrobe, or just add a jacket on top? Add your ideas in the comments. 

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