How to Dress for Winter Outdoor Adventures

The arrival of winter doesn’t have to mean that we all head inside and wait until spring to continue our winter outdoor adventures. On the contrary, the cold and snow bring opportunities for new kinds of experience, and quite frankly. If you haven’t embraced skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or the host of other winter activities, you’re truly missing out.

More excellent care and caution are needed when heading outside in cold conditions, such as freezing temperatures. It can lead to dangerous situations if we’re not careful. But a proper layering system can ensure that we stay warm and comfortable at just about any temperature, provided you have the property gear.

So what just what gear do you need to stay warm and dry? It is how to dress for winter and stay comfortable in adverse conditions.

Layer Up! Winter Outdoor Adventures

Chance: You’ve heard the advice to dress in layers before, and of course, it seems like common-sense advice. But, there is a measured approach to wearing layers that goes well beyond just piling on more clothes. A strategy that is both more efficient and more comfortable.

A layering system is to have the right clothes to wear, not just more clothes to put on. Each of the three layers that make up this system has a purpose. Working with the others to keep us warmer and dryer is helpful. The goal is to create warmth, keep us dry, manage moisture, and regulate our overall temperature.

Here’s what you need:

Base Layers
Perhaps the most critical layer of all is the base layer. These lightweight garments sit closest to the skin. They are charged with wicking moisture away from the body, drying quickly, and regulating our warmth. These layers come in various “weights” that are meant for different temperature levels. In temperatures close to freezing (32ºF/0ºC), a lightweight base layer will often do the trick.

When shopping for base layers, look for ones made from merino wool or synthetic fabrics designed for these garments. Those types of materials are not just fast drying and breathable. But they won’t retain odors either, something that is very important. When traveling for an extended period. And since you’ll likely be wearing your base layers the entire time you’re in a cold environment. You want them to be soft, comfortable and perform exceptionally well.

Insulating Layer
The middle layer of any proper layering system is for insulation. This layer can take the form of anything from a lightweight fleece up to a down jacket with 800-fill power. Which option you choose to go with depends on personal needs and how cold the temperatures will be. Suppose you’re generating plenty of heat by being active. You may not need anything too large or bulky. On the other hand, if you’re dog sledding in -40ºF/C temperatures, something that provides more warmth will be in order.

The goal of the insulating layer is to not only provide warmth but to trap warm air close to the body. This is an efficient way to protect us from the cold during winter activities when our bodies generate a fair amount of heat.

Other Layer | Winter Outdoor Adventures

The other layer of the layering system is responsible for keeping us protected from the wind, rain, and snow. It usually consists of a shell jacket and wind- and waterproof pants. This also help to prevents the insulating and base layers from getting soaked with moisture.
Shell jackets tend to be relatively thin and made from fabrics like Gore-Tex, Perter, or other propriety waterproof materials. These layers are usually relatively light, as they are not helpful to provide warmth, just protection from the elements.

These types of jackets tended to be warm because they weren’t exceptionally breathable in the past. But that is changing with newer high-tech fabrics such as Future light. Today, we have some great shells that perform at an incredibly high level, keeping wind and rain out while allowing excess heat and moisture outing. The result is a safer, more comfortable jacket for winter.

Putting it Altogether

The beauty of a proper layering system is that it isn’t just warm but highly versatile. If you’re out on a snowshoeing trek and the wind is low, and it isn’t snowing, you may not need your sell to stay warm, for instance. Similarly, in sunny winter days your insulating layer may be not required. This means you can pick and choose which layers to wear as needed and when appropriate.

That said, you’ll want to carry your insulating and outer layers with you to stay safe in the cold. Winter conditions can change rapidly, and while a shell might not have been needed when you set out, a sudden storm can alter those needs quickly. And while staying active, you may find yourself warm enough not to require insulation. But stop for a break, and you’ll cool off quite quickly. Being able to mix and match layers to manage. Warming and conditions are essential for learning how to dress for winter.

Finding the right pieces to make up your layering system mainly depends on the conditions you’ll be using them. How susceptible you are to the cold and your budget. But it can be a revelation when you have the right gear at your disposal. Suddenly your hesitation for embracing cold-weather activities begins to vanish. Open up a new relay of possibility, both in terms of things to do outside and places to go in your travels.