Growing up in Wisconsin, our winters get pretty chilly. But cold doesn’t correspond with miserable. There are plenty of ways that you can dress in order to thoroughly enjoy a chilly, winter day outside. If you have the right gear, winter can be just as comfortable as every other season.
Here are a few tips and recommendation on how to layer your clothing and dress properly to get the most out of every brisk, winter day! Linked is what I own and highly recommend! However, there are affiliate links within this post that I could receive a small commission on if you purchase through these links. We would appreciate it if you purchased through these links for it is how we keep our content free for all readers. Thank you.
Cover your noggin- wear a hat!
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself from getting cold is covering more surface area of exposed skin. If you do not have anything on your head, you can lose lots of heat through your head, thus making you feel colder. Personally, hat’s keep me the warmest but if you are going to be active and want your ears covered but not your entire head, go for a headband.
Neck Gaiters can make a difference!
I only wear a neck gaiter when it’s either really cold, really windy, or I’m doing a winter sport where I’m going to be going fast like snowmobiling or skiing. Gaiters are a way to keep the wind from getting within your layers and cooling them off. They have lots of uses and come in all styles. I have a fleece one for snowmobiling but a regular one for more everyday, casual use.
For Everyday: BUFF Original
For Colder Days:BUFF Polar Neckwarmer
Layer your tops heavily
Layering your tops will give you so much warmth and the option to take layers off if you happen to get too warm or go inside. Here are the recommended layers:
1. Base Layer- Moisture Wicking
Make sure that this baselayer is not 100% cotton! Cotton soaks up all of the moisture and leaves you chilled. Instead, you will want some type of Merino Wool or Polyester (A cotton/polyester blend is good too). These materials wick the moisture and allow it to dry faster, in turn leaving you nice and cozy!
2. Mid Layer: Breathability
This layer I recommend a breathable, fleece quarter zip. A lot of this layer will have the waffle pattern within the fleece to leave air to breathe. You don’t want this layer to be anything heavy, just a layer to leave some room for the air to heat up in between layers. If you are going to be active or it is a bit warmer out, you do not always need this layer but it is a game changer when it is cold out.
Mid Layer for Women:Patagonia Capilene Mid Weight Zip
Mid Layer for Men: Patagonia Capilene Mid Weight Zip
This layer is what will really retain your heat for long periods of time. You can use merino wool, goose down, or fleece for this layer. For the coldest temperature goose down will be your best bet for warmth to weight. Down is easily compressed under layers and keeps you very warm. There are different weights of fleece and some can be a bit bulkier but it does leave room for breathability. Go for a bulkier fleece in colder conditions if you prefer fleece.
Insulation Layer for Women:Patagonia Snap-T Pullover
Insulation Layer for Men: The North Face Campshire Pullover
4. Shell Layer- Weather Protection
This layer is going to be weatherproof for all conditions- rain, snow, sleet, etc. You can get a shell layer that is also an insulation layer as well to cut down on bulkiness or you can get a shell layer that is just weather resistant, like a rain coat. You will want a shell layer that is breathable. If you are sweating within your other three layers, your shell will not absorb it and it may create more moisture within. I recommend a jacket with zippers in the armpits to allow the sweatier parts to breathe a bit.
Keep your fingers nice and toasty!
When your fingers get cold, everything gets cold. I would recommend wearing a pair of liners and a weatherproof, insulating pair. The liners are good for moderate cold and functionality but the insulating gloves keep your hands warmer and dry. To maximize warmth, mittens will keep your hands the warmest but you do lose a lot of functionality.
Layer your bottoms too!
It’s easy for the wind to go right through a pair of pants and that can be detrimental to warmth. Depending upon the activity you are doing depicts on how many layers you want. On any day I am spending time outside more than just in and out of buildings, I wear a base layer and a normal pair of pants/leggings.
1. Base Layer- Moisture Wicking
I wear a base layer under my clothes if I am doing anything outside in the winter. It is a way to keep a large part of your body warm with very little bulk being added. This should be moisture wicking just like the base layer on top. I recommend Merino Wool or Polyester.
2. Insulating Layer- Warmth
This layer has a lot of variabilities depending on the type of activity you are doing and the temperature. I normally wear a pair of fleece leggings for this base layer and it keeps me warm enough for most activities and I do not need another layer. For men, I recommend just a pair of jeans or fleece lined jeans for this layer.
Insulating Layer for Women: Athleta Polartec Pants
Insulating Layer for Men: Carhartt Fleece Lined Jeans
3. Shell Layer- Weatherproof
This is an optional layer depending on what you are doing. You do not need this layer if there is little snow or you are just going for a hike. However, if you are sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, or doing anything in the snow for a long period of time, you will want this layer. Snow pants are made so well now that they are insulating, comfortable, breathable, and keep you completely dry. Although snow pants are optional, I would highly recommend them in any situation where you will be in the snow or in very cold conditions.
Shell Layer for Women:Columbia Snow Pants
Shell Layer for Men: Columbia Snow Pants
Wool Socks will rock your sock off- well, not literally
I don’t know about you but my toes are the first things to go numb when I’m in the cold. Wool socks make a massive difference. You can also buy a pair of sock liners to keep your feet even warmer. You want to make sure your socks fit snug to your foot or the heat won’t be retained as well.
Invest in a good pair of boots
Boots are the key attribute of your toes warmth. Socks will help but with a good pair of boots, you will not have to worry. Make sure your boots have an insulating mechanism whether it is wool, fleece, down, etc. Rubber boots paired with no insulation and warm socks will not cut. Like any new shoes, do not be afraid to wear your boots around the house at first to make sure you are able to walk comfortably in them.
Boots for Women: Sorel Snow Boots
Boots for Men:KEEN Summit Winter Boots
With these layers, you will be able to explore and enjoy the outdoors all year long! Winter is a beauty that all should be able to see at some point. You can truly enjoy it if you are comfortable! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!
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