Easing Winter's Big Chill
Expert Tips for Staying Warm
What you wear to an outside event in the middle of January can transform a fun winter activity to a chilly, wet, and possibly even dangerous ordeal.
You don't have to buy expensive designer skiwear to stay warm and dry in winter, but investing a little thought into how you cover up can provide big payoffs, said Josh Baker, co-director of Colgate University's outdoor education program.
Baker provides a head-to-toe overview of how protect to yourself against hypothermia during freezing weather:
Top it off. There's an old adage that if your feet are cold,
you should put on a hat, said Baker. "When you get too hot, take it off for a bit; when you get too cool, pop it back on." Another valuable piece of cranium gear? A headlamp, he said. With the days getting shorter and shorter, a headlamp can extend an
outing by an hour or two. "Plus, your hands are free, the light points where you look, and you will be the envy of all your neighbors when the power goes out."
Layer it on thick. "When it comes to your body, think layers," said Baker. "Try a light synthetic shirt first, then a vest, sweater, or fleece topped by a wind-resistant coat. Save your
insulated coat for the really cold daysyou can remove and add layers as your body temperature changes." For pants, rather than sporting a heavy pair, he suggested donning a set of lightweight thermal underwear and wind or athletic pants. An inexpensive pair of wool pantsthough probably not the most stylish article of clothingis great on frigid days
over long johns.
Smitten for mittens. If you wrap your fingers in too-tight leather gloves, circulation is reduced and they will cool faster than if you have some wiggle room. "Mittens are typically warmer
than gloves because the heat generated from your fingers is shared, rather than stuck in a tunnel of fabric,"
"Liner gloves of silk, wool, or synthetic fabrics while typically tight can trap warmth, but they should fit in a mitten or glove easily." Another easy way to keep the blood pumping to hands and fingers is to grab a pair of ski poles when you head out for a walk, said Baker. They help get blood circulating to the hands, and can stop a fall on slippery terrain.
Protect your piggies. Those people who bundle their feet in huge wool socks plus a pair of (or two or three) cotton ones may actually be doing more harm than good, said Baker. "Like fingers,
your toes need to be able to be able to move freely," he explained. "Wiggle room allows for better circulation. If they are crammed inside too much fabric, circulation is impeded and the blood simply can't get around to warm them." Since cotton holds water and perspiration, wear only one pair of synthetic or wool liner socks, he said. They take up almost
no room in boots and are usually quite inexpensive.
Quench your thirst. Believe it or not, drinking a tall glass of aqua even an ice-cold one helps you stay warm, said Baker. "You body need water to keep your blood pumping, and people tend to become dehydrated in the winter without knowing," he explained. Fill a bottle with warm water before you start exercising; you'll drink more, and the liquid won't be as cold going down.