Three Simple Tips to Stay Warm Outside This Winter
You've committed to go outside more often this winter. Now what?
After a few weeks of seesawing temperatures, it appears winter is really here. We always find this time of year a little tough, as it takes time to adjust to the newfound negative temps. We both hit the ski slopes this weekend and my goodness, was that wind ever cold. Minus five feels downright balmy in February, but right now… BRRRRRR. Plus who even remembers how to layer?
On that note, this week we’re sharing some simple tips for feeling warmer this winter. As the New York Times recently said, Yes, Your Kids Can Play Outside All Winter. We’d like to add that Yes, Adults Can Too. We promise, once you get over this initial hump where winter feels extra cold and dark and grey, it’s beautiful out there...
Merino Wool is a blessing. Cailynn here, a merino wool enthusiast. For me, this fiber has made the biggest difference to staying warm during outdoor activities. I swear by my merino wool base layers — long johns and a long sleeve top — for pretty much every winter activity I do. I also have a merino wool toque that fits perfectly under a bike or ski helmet and a merino wool buff (aka neckwarmer) that I wear all the time. The bad news about merino wool is it can get small holes in it, especially the long johns (but maybe that’s because I wear them so much?). The good news is that it’s versatile: I put on the same pieces for a variety of winter activities, from skiing to skating to walking, and often pack them for overnight hiking trips in the summer. If you’re new to merino wool, I recommend starting with long johns.
Annalise here. Also a big fan of merino wool. While the price tag may seem steep ($90 for a long sleeve!? $120 for long underwear!!?), it does make a huge difference to your winter warmth. And keep in mind, these layers will last a long time (I’ve been using the same buff for a decade) and you can build them up over time. I’d also advise you to keep an eye for sales at local stores or check out TheLastHunt.com, which is Canada’s largest online outlet store for outdoor gear. No, they’re not paying me to promo their site; I just like a good deal. I’ve been ordering off TheLastHunt since 2014, and find it a great way to get reliable clothing and equipment at 25-70% off the retail price, as long as you know your size and are OK with the no return policy.
Why is there a photo of a cute winter-loving doggo when we’re talking about merino wool? Why not!?
Pack a warm drink (but not just any warm drink). I (Annalise) am going to let you in on a secret. We would have done an entire post about this, if Cailynn had let me. Packing miso soup when recreating outdoors during winter, spring, fall, and yes — even summer — is life-changing. Seriously. Whether you make it at home or purchase soup packets from the grocery store, there’s something about the salt and warmth that’s the perfect combination when exercising outside in the cold. It’s easy to become dehydrated quicker than you realize during winter so ensuring you hydrate often is important. Miso soup is a staple for me when I reach camp on summer backpacking trips and a must-pack when cross-country skiing or alpine ski touring.
If salty isn’t your style, pick another drink like hot chocolate, tea or even warm Nuun, and experience the joy of a few quick sips instantly warming you up. A key to keeping your hot drink hot is a vacuum insulated bottle. For years, I’ve used this GSI Bottle daily (and raved so much about it Cailynn also bought one). On Sunday afternoon, I skied at Lake Louise. I filled my GSI bottle with hot miso soup at 9 a.m. and closed it. I opened it for the first time around 2 p.m. and my soup was still very hot. A few sips and I instantly warmed up.
It’s very likely Annalise enjoyed some miso soup after this beauty ski in the Purcells last year.
Dramatically improve your drive home. Our last tip is a simple one, albeit easy to forget. After snowshoeing, hiking, skating or skiing outside in the cold this winter, put on dry clothes for the drive home. That’s it. That’s the tip. Instead of sitting in the car for an hour or two on the ride home in wet, sweaty clothing and then wondering why you’re chilly, pack something cozy, dry and warm for the drive home. It will keep you warm every time.
If you have any simple, tried and true tips for staying warm while going outside in winter, please comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
COVID-19 restrictions have led more Albertans than ever before to explore their own backyards. We’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood, and we want to help more people Go Outside. Subscribe to get our newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday.