Mystery Mondays: Staying Warm on Winter Outdoor Adventures

I’m the first to admit that I hate cold weather. I hate being cold and I hate being wet. Still, I head to the great outdoors as often during the winter as I do during the summer. Most of the time, my winter “camping” is limited to day-trips, even though my area of northern Arizona isn’t all that cold (say compared to Flagstaff, AZ or Idaho!)

Here are some of my tips to make sure that you enjoy your winter day-trips.

Common Sense
If you’re not comfortable with your cold-weather gear, don’t go out! If you’re expecting rain, snow, wind, etc in your area and if you’re not 100% sure you know what to do, that’s the PERFECT day to go to EatStayPlay.com and plan a spring activity.

Clothing
Layer your clothing. Wear several layers of lighter clothing instead of one heavy layer. This way you can better regulate the amount of insulation. If you get warm you can take layers off and add some more clothing layers if you get cold.

Wet = cold! And you can get wet from rain OR from sweating. Remember when buying clothes for cold weather that wool retains most of its insulation properties when wet, while cotton does not.

Long underwear can be cute AND warm!

Long underwear can be cute AND warm!

I have and use long underwear! I picked mine up at in the women’s section, so it’s very cute. In the men’s clothing section, I bought a pair of very baggy cargo pants that I wear over my long underwear so I can still move around. I recommend getting something you’ll actually wear — if that’s color or style. Here’s some options.

Fleece pull-over.

Fleece pull-over.

I can’t wear wool, since I’m allergic. A great alternative is fleece, like the stuff made from recycled plastic bottles. Fleece wicks away moisture from the body, so it feels dry, even when soaking wet. It offers tremendous warmth in comparison to its weight. I tend to get men’s sizes so they’re big & bulky. Perfect for layering. Here’s a suggestion: Russell Athletic Men’s Dri-Power Hooded Pullover Fleece Sweatshirt

Wear a hat or hood (or both!) since we lose most of our heat through our heads.

My very ugly green camping jacket is a lined canvas with a deep hood. I put on a hat, pull up the hood, and I’m usually protected from the wind. I also wear a scarf, since the zipper is where most cold air gets into my jacket.

The Outdoor Princess in the ugly green coat.

The Outdoor Princess in the ugly green coat.

I also have a coat that has a material in it that protects from the wind; you know the type of wind that just cuts through all layers like they weren’t even there. The only thing is I don’t like to wear it out to much around in the woods! It’s too nice. But here a pick of us all out geocaching LAST winter and I am wearing my good coat. A winter storm was coming in but I was toasty warm.

The Outdoor Princess & Family.

The Outdoor Princess & Family.

Shoes
Athletic shoes and nylon hiking boots do not provide enough insulation. Wear a pair of cotton and a pair of wool socks to increase insulation and take the perspiration way from your feet. (If you choose to wear rubberized boots, remember they do not allow for ventilation, therefore you will need to change your socks several times a day.)

Waterproof your footgear with the appropriate commercial treatment.

If you’ll be out camping or hiking for multiple days, think about bringing two pairs of shoes and then alternating. That way, it gives one pair the chance to dry out a little bit.

I hate it when my feet get cold. In addition, it’s not really a safe prospect to have cold feet — hypothermia, not feeling your feet, balance, etc. I always take more than one pair of shoes and when I change my socks, I change my shoes as well.

Other Considerations
Wet = cold. It may seem like breathing on your hands, sticking your head in your sleeping bag, etc. is a good idea, but the moisture from your breath will make you colder in the long run.

If you’re going out, even if it’s just for the day, be sure to tell somebody where you’re going and when you’ll be back. (And, when you GET back, call that person!)

Now, considering I’m from Arizona, this might not be the best advice for places where it is truly bitter cold.

For those of you who DO live where it snows in early winter and then stays snowy all season, what do you recommend? What have I missed? What do you do to enjoy your winter adventures?

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