Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to Dress to Survive Cold Weather - 12 Tips on How to Stay Warm Outside During Winter

  1. Dress in Layers - You can always remove outer layers if you get warm.
  2. Wear 100% Polypropylene underwear - or other moisture wicking underwear. No matter how many layers you wear, you will be cold if you are wet. The key is to wear form-fitting, moisture-wicking underwear that will wick the moisture away from your skin. Cotton underwear will soak up moisture and hold it next to your skin, making you cold.
  3. Avoid Unnecessary Movement - if you know you will have to be still later on. For instance, if you are a hunter walking to your tree stand or blind, start earlier and walk slowly so as not to cause excessive sweating. Also, it is a good idea to tie your coat around your waist or put it in your daypack as you walk. You may be cold at first, but with the coat on you are more likely to sweat. As you walk, you will warm up. Save the coat for when you really need it and are sitting still for long periods of time.
  4. Wear a Hat or Cap - Most of your body heat is lost through your head. You will be surprised at how much warmer you will be if you wear something on your head. You may also choose to wear some other type of warm headgear. Something such as a ski mask that covers your face, including your ears, and nose is nice and in some climates essential. Again, save the hat for when you are still or have a lower level of activity if possible. A 100% polypropylene baklava under your head gear will serve to wick moisture away from your head.
  5. Wear a Scarf - or turtleneck. Just make sure your neck is covered with something warm.
  6. Wear Warm Outer Layers - 100% wool is a good insulator, or you may choose from a host of other high tech outer layers such as polar fleece. Always pack a rain suit or other water-proof outer shell that is large enough to cover all of your layers. If it starts to rain you will be glad you did! Take along a heavy water-resistant coat. Don't skimp on something cheap. Get a coat with good insulating qualities and a built-in hood. Outer shells that have a wind blocking material in them will help keep those cold gusts from making their way through your clothing. Wear pants that fit a little loose with layers on under them. Blouse your pants with blousing rubbers or stuff them into your boots to trap body heat and prevent cold drafts from finding a path up your pants leg.
  7. Wear Mittens - Believe me when I tell you that your fingers will be much warmer with mittens on than with gloves! Now there are mittens that have a folding top part which allows you to expose the ends of your fingers when you need to use them. You can then flip the top half of the mitten right back over your fingers for protection.
  8. Use a Hand Warmer - If you're going to be sitting still for long periods of time and it is important to you to have more finger dexterity than pop-top mittens will allow, you may want to give a hand warmer a try. These are usually made from polar fleece or other warm material and have a waist strap with a quick release. The heat generated from your hands inside the insulated sleeve keeps your fingers toasty and ready for use at a moments notice. Also referred to as a hand warmer is a device which operates on butane. The outer shell of the hand warmer is aluminum and it is carried in a cloth pouch with draw strings. For hunters and wildlife observers this may not be a good option, since the scent from the burning butane may alert wildlife downwind of you to your presence. If it's cold enough, you may not care.
  9. Wear Under Socks - Start off with under socks made of 100% polypropylene. You need to wick as much moisture as possible away from your feet and toes. A pair of thick wool socks over your under socks will serve to further wick moisture and they will also act as a good insulator.
10. Wear a good pair of cold weather boots - Your choice of boots should depend on where you intend to trek, how much you intend to walk, and how cold you expect the weather to be. If the weather is not that cold...let's say 40 - 50 degrees above zero, Fahrenheit, and you intend to trek across areas where you may have to step in small puddles wear a good pair of boots that have good insulation and contain a water-resistant material that allows your feet to breath. If you expect to be sitting still for an extended period of time, you will want to wear boots that are designed with a large pocket of air in the toes. This air pocket along with insulation in the boot will keep your toes warm in some very cold weather! The only drawback is that you will look like you are wearing Mickey Mouse shoes! They are cumbersome to walk in for long distances, however for times when you don't need to walk very far and will be sitting for an hour or more in very cold weather, these boots are perfect!
11. Buy Your Boots with Extra Room - Be sure when you try on a pair of boots that you wear the socks you will be wearing in the woods. If you wear a pair of athletic socks when you try on your new cold-weather boots, there will not be enough room for your thick wool socks. I would rather my cold weather boots were just a little on the big side rather than the other way around. Extra air in the toes provides for extra insulation. Tight boots restrict circulation in your toes which will also make them colder. Just make sure you don't get boots that are so big they rub a blister on your heel.
12. Use a Blind - whenever possible for wildlife viewing or hunting. Anything to help block the wind will also help keep you warm.
Darryl Rodgers is a stay-at-home dad, author, and adventurer. He grew up in rural South Carolina hunting, fishing, and playing in the woods near his home for hours at a time. At the age of 19, Darryl started a career as a corporate pilot. He served as a medic in the Army National Guard and eventually became a Copilot/Gunner on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
Darryl has owned several small businesses but has been most successful and had the most fun running an outdoor summer day camp for boys. He has also worked with at-risk boys through a non-profit program. Darryl is the proud father of two boys, ages 8 and 15. Through his years of practical experience in working with boys, Darryl has become an expert on what boys like, how they learn best, and what things they need to be taught that they are missing in school.

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