Whether you’re hunting waterfowl, cutting a path through the snow on your cross-country skis, or tearing it up on a snowmobile, staying warm is vital. Not just to stay comfortable, but also for your safety.
Hypothermia is a killer. It happens when your body’s core temperature drops. But if you can keep yourself warm, you can stay out of trouble.
Start with a good base layer. That’s the layer of clothes next to your skin. You’ll want something that wicks water and sweat away from you. Synthetics like Polypropylene are great base layers, but so is wool. The trouble with wool is that it’s itchy. I became a big believer in Merino wool a few years ago. Merino wool doesn’t itch, and it’s warm and comfortable. You can now get just about any article of clothing made from Merino wool – even long underwear.
Over the base layer, you’ll want something that insulates well. Again, wool is always a good choice, especially if you’re in the snow or near water. Wool will retain its insulating ability, even when it gets wet. Synthetics like Thinsulate and fleece are great, too. Anything that’s not bulky but insulates well makes a good second layer.
Depending on what you’re doing, you might want a few layers between the base layer and the outer layer. That way, if you’re moving around or if the temperature rises, you can strip off layers and stay comfortable. More importantly, you’ll stay dry. If you start to sweat, then stop moving, you’ll get cold really fast.
The outer layer should be waterproof. It should keep the water off the layers below it so they keep their insulating ability.
Whatever you choose for any of these layers, do what you can to avoid cotton. When cotton gets wet, its insulation value goes to nothing. You’ll get cold, no matter how much physical activity you’re doing.
If you don’t have good outdoor clothing, ask for some for Christmas. High-quality outdoor clothes aren’t cheap, so if you can get someone else to foot the bill, all the better. Stay warm, comfortable, and safe this winter.