How to Stay Warm Outdoors

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Enjoying winter means staying warm. Try these tips to stay toasty from head to toe.

1. Layer your clothing. Wearing one thick, bulky layer is less effective for keeping you warm than wearing several thin layers, which traps heat between the layers.

2. Wear the right base. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, such as synthetic material or silk. Cotton traps perspiration against the skin which will make you feel colder. Many outdoor outfitting stores sell base layers designed to keep you dry.

3. Pick a warm mid-layer. Synthetic polar fleece or wool are very warm materials and can help you retain body heat.

4. Layer your outerwear. An insulative layer covered by a waterproof shell offers great protection from the cold. Look for snowpants and a coat that offer you the freedom of movement you will need for your activity. Many newer outerwear designs are thin—and seemingly not warm enough—but if you check the tag, you will find a cold rating to let you know you have the right gear.

5. Cover your head. Don’t just grab a thin knit beanie. Wear a hat lined with fleece or faux fur that covers your ears and provides a windproof shell.

6. Use the right gloves. Repeatedly tugging off your gloves to operate your phone unnecessarily exposes your hands. Instead, wear a pair of texting gloves which include conductive fiber woven in the fingertips. Over these, wear warm, waterproof mittens or gloves. Whenever you want to take a selfie or text a friend, you can keep your fingers covered by a layer. Bring along hand warmers if you plan to be outside a long time.

7. Select the right footwear. Once you’ve layered moisture-wicking socks topped by insulative socks, you’ll need lined boots rated for the temperature and tall enough to keep snow from falling inside. Tall boots that fit snugly at the top can also help keep snow out. If your feet are especially prone to cold, try rechargeable heated boots for hours of warmth.

8. Stay dry. Bring along extra clothing—especially socks, gloves, and hat—to peel off and exchange for dry clothing should yours become sweat or snow-soaked.

9. Don’t imbibe. It may seem like alcohol warms you up, but it’s not true. “It can actually be quite dangerous,” states Kate Goldbaum on Livescience.com. “The natural tendencies of your body—to detect cold, for example—are there to protect you from frostbite or hypothermia. Usually, your blood vessels constrict in lower temperatures in order to direct blood to your vital organs.” Because alcohol reverses this effect, your extremities feel warmer, but your organs lose heat. In addition, this effect can cause you to sweat, which can make your body feel cooler. But you should drink beverages to stay hydrated, as it’s easy to hydrate less while active during cold weather.

10. Take breaks as needed. Most winter activity centers offer a warming station. Get a warm drink like coffee, tea or cocoa.