Going outside this winter? Stay warm!

Winter is here, and for some in more northern or frigid climates, that means that being outside can get miserable.


In the Northeast, you can get dry, sub-20 degree days that are still full of sunshine. Feet upon feet of snow might line the sidewalks of your street, and you can see the neighborhood kids grabbing their sleds and heading to the nearest hill. In the Northwest, the temperatures might stay above freezing, but you’ve got pouring, cold rain to deal with. And during a pandemic, your normal retreat inside — for socializing, for relaxing, for visiting your mom — isn’t an option.


We’re going to have to stay outside to socialize, and that means we’ll have to dress for the occasion. Your body needs to stay dry and insulated in order to remain warm. Remember how people used to dress in all those layers back before the 20th century? Yeah, we’re going to have to get back to doing that.


Always start with a baselayer, on both your top, legs, and feet, that is skin-tight and moisture-wicking. Wool, silk, polyester, all of these will suffice, so long as it keeps your skin dry if you build up a sweat. Leggings or yoga pants are a great baselayer that can keep you warm, too! On your feet, wear a thinner silk, wool, or polyester sock to wick sweat from your feet.


Follow up that baselayer with a mid-layer. The mid-layer keeps you warm by being a loose, air-capturing space. You could wear six tight long-sleeve shirts one on top of the other, and still be cold, because there’s no way for those shirts to trap air. The kind of things you want to wear are lofty. Think “cloud shaped.” A fleece sweater, a hoodie, a down puffer — all of these pieces of clothing will trap air between its outermost fabric and your baselayer. On your feet, layer up with a bigger, more lofty sock than your baselayer sock. Just as on the rest of you, you want to keep your feet dry and trap some warm air there. Try to avoid cotton if you are in a wet environment, because if the cotton gets wet, you’ll get cold. That means, no cotton socks, no cotton t-shirts, and try to wear pants that aren’t jeans. Speaking of pants; a great mid-layer for your legs are fleece joggers or sweatpants. If you have insulated snow pants for skiing, these will work great too, as they’re a two-in-one of mid-layer and shell.


And now we’ll move onto the shell: this can be any layer that protects you from the wind. Since you’re trying to trap warm air close to your body, any wind that blows through will also blow away all of your warm air. Rain coats, leather coats, wool coats, ski jackets, or a Carhartt work coat. If you’re in a wet climate, definitely make sure you have a good rain jacket and some rain pants. On your feet, make sure your shoes are also water-resistant or water-proof. Don’t go walking about in sneakers if it’s raining, or stomp through the snow in them! Many kinds of hiking and working boots come water-resistant or water-proofed. Rain boots, while non-insulated, are inexpensive and will keep your feet and ankles dry. A good pair of snow boots is a great investment if you like to go on winter walks or have a daily commute that takes you on some un-plowed streets or sidewalks. Just make sure you clean them occasionally, as road salts can build up on the fabric.


Hats, scarves, and gloves are always needed for keeping your hands, neck, and head warm. Even if your jacket has a hood, protect your crown and your ears from exposure to wind or cold air. Your ears, nose, fingers, and toes are the most susceptible parts of your body to frostbite.


Make sure you wear a mask when speaking to people outside of your household, even from six feet away, and enjoy the winter season as best as you can!