Winter activites are a ton of fun even during the coldest of cold snaps. The days are shorter and the temperature drops, but we still want to get outside and play in the great outdoors. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or just walking around town, it’s easy to get cold when the temperatures plummet.
Staying warm when it’s cold outside is challenging in the mountain environment. If you’ve experienced the Rocky Mountains in winter you know that the weather changes from minute to minute and it can be unusually warm to downright freezing in a given moment. When you combine outdoor activities, cold temps, and mountain winds, it’s incredible how quickly you core temp will drop. Your body can easily lose heat through conduction, convection, radiation, and evaporation, unless you know how to stay warm when it’s cold outside.
Luckily we have a few tips for staying warm when you are out playing.
Check The Weather Report – Every morning read the weather forecast for the day. Will it be sunny? Cloudy? Windy? Snowy? What are the high and low temps? The more you know, the easier it is to prepare for the day.
Cover Up – Wear a hat and get a Buff or a balaclava. The more skin you can cover the better!
Mind Your Extremities – Often the fingers and toes are the first things to get really cold. Increase circulation to your extremities by wiggling your fingers and toes regularly. For your toes, wear warm boots, unbuckle your boots on chairlifts, and invest in boot warmers. For your fingers, wear mittens, not gloves.
Stay Dry – Wear the right clothes to protect yourself from the elements. Do your best to avoid getting wet from snow or from sweat.
Hydrate and Eat – What you put in your body plays a major factor in how warm you will feel when you’re outside. Eat and drink water regularly throughout the day.
Take Breaks – When you’re really cold, go inside and warm up. Eat food, drink water, and go to the bathroom. You won’t earn any bragging rights if you stay out all day and become hypothermic or get frostbite. Go inside. It’s warmer in there.
Avoid Booze – While a stiff drink might make you feel warmer, alcohol actually drops your body’s core temperature.
Stay Active – To stay warm, your body needs to generate heat. Do a set of jumping jacks, wiggle your arms and legs, or ski a bump run. Don’t just stand there, do something.
Layer Up – Proper layering can make or break your day. Layering is an important part of thermo-regulation. The classic layering formula is Base Layer + Mid Layer + Outer Layer. Let’s take a look:
-Base Layer – Wicks moisture away from your body. These under layers go against your skin and are usually a wool or synthetic material. NEVER wear cotton.
-Mid Layer – Captures warmth. These insulating layers are typically a fleece layer. If it’s really cold, add additional fleece mid layers or even a down jacket as needed.
-Outer Layer – Protects you from the elements. These weatherproof layers should be windproof, waterproof, and breathable.
Finally, if you are need of some gear or advice the local shops and outfitters are the best source for tips, gear and the appropriate layers for the entire family.
Hopefully these tips for staying warm when it’s cold outside will help you enjoy your favorite winter activity even more.