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Cold Weather Gear

Good Morning Everybody! Welcome Back! We hope the New Years is treating you well. I know these are hectic times so always remember to take care of your health. Today, we thought it highly relevant to write a quick how to on Cold Weather Gear. So we hope you find this helpful and informative. Lets start.

Back in the day, staying warm in cold weather meant wearing the bulkiest and the biggest clothing and gear you could find.

However, times have changed, and thanks to high-performing materials and layering systems, you can protect yourself from the cold while looking stylish at the same time. Read on to learn about the ins and outs of cold weather gear. It’s easy to follow and can mean the difference between a safe, fun day out versus a very unpleasant one.

Cold Weather Gear

Upper Body Gear Essentials

Head Gear

Keeping your head warm is important. You can definitely rock any type of headgear to help with your head, from hats, bucket hats, earmuffs, but of course, if you want the ultimate warmth for your head, we recommend a good ole beanie. Luckily, this is an easy item to acquire. You can easily find a beanie at any retail store, outlets, malls, online, even in a state that is relatively warm like Arizona. If you want one with the best style though, click here

Full Ski Mask

A great option to consider if you are going to spend a lot of time in cold, snowy areas. The full ski mask covers the entire head and face with an opening for the eyes providing ultimate warmth.  

Gaiter

In the Marine Corps, we used “gaiters” to help keep our neck area not only for cold weather keeping our neck warm, but also to keep us safe from the sun. We also use a gaiter to cover our face from strong winds and dust storms. We definitely recommend having one of these in your closet as you may never know when you will need it. Please consider gaiters do not protect the top of the head like a full ski mask would.

Scarf

A scarf has been used around the world for generations dating back to the ancient Egyptian times. It has been used to protect the neck and head from the sun, from the cold, and is also a highly fashionable item that holds religious significance in many parts of the world. A good scarf will definitely help keep you warm and are easily available in both retail and online.

Cold Weather Gear

Torso

Sweater

Depending on how cold of an environment you are visiting, we recommend layering a long sleeve below your jacket. A thermal sweater is a great option to layer below a jacket and are cheap and affordable. Also known as “Long Johns,” thermal sweaters are usually made of wool, a great fabric to help keep you warm. There are also synthetic options available.   

Jacket

The most important component of any cold weather gear is of course going to be what covers most of your body. That is why we recommend investing in a high-quality jacket. One that will keep you warm even in the coldest environments.

Bomber Jacket

Popularized by the military, bomber jackets were first designed for fighter pilots during WW1 to keep them warm. Today, they are very popular and have their roles in the civilian world keeping us insolated. They are great for chilly days out in town but of course, if it gets too cold, you may want to layer your bomber jacket with a sweater underneath for that extra warmth.

Down Jacket

The invention of the first down jacket was due to a near death experience during a fishing trip. Attempting to hike back after catching over 100 pounds of fish, Eddie Bauer nearly lost his life as he attempted to hike back with his fresh caught load. In response, Eddie invented what he called “Blizzard Proof,” a jacket that wasn’t to light or to heavy that could keep you warm in such events. Since then, down jackets have drastically improved.

Filled with either duck, geese, or synthetic material, down jackets are designed to keep you extra warm. These jackets are ideal for many situations in the cold whether it’s enjoying a football game outdoors, hiking, skiing, the down jacket will not let you down. One metric to utilize when investing in a down jacket is the “fill power,” the ability of the jacket to trap air. The higher the fill the warmer, but more expensive and vice versa.

Parka Jacket

Originally created in the artic by the Inuits using caribou or seal, the Parka jacket is the ultimate in combating extreme cold. Think of a parka jacket as a combination of a rain coat and a jacket keeping you warm and safe against the elements.

Parka jackets are longer usually traveling right below your knees covering more of your body then a traditional jacket. Most parkas also have a fur-lined hood and contain heavier and warmer materials.

Besides warmth and comfort, the parka also has space for bigger pockets, and can be worn over most clothing, even suits. Parkas were adopted by the military because of these key attributes. Service members could easily store ammo and other supplies with the oversized pockets and could also wear it over there uniform with ease.

Many brands also exist to combat the cold, such as The North Face, Patagonia, Canada Goose, Carharrt, Eddy Bauer, the list goes on and on.

Cold Weather Gear

Hands

To keep your mitts warm, there are several options to consider.

Mittens and gloves are great, and have been used since ancient times to keep hands warm. They keep your hands warmer because of the material and design. Wool, synthetics (Fleece, rubber, neoprene, faux), and leather are popular materials used in manufacturing mittens and gloves.

Mittens cover the entire hand while gloves cover each finger independently. Although mittens will keep you warmer, gloves provide more functionality especially if you are out in the cold to work.

Thickness, material, and style will affect how warm the mittens / gloves keep you. Here are some options to consider:

1.       Classic winter gloves / mittens: Highly recommended, easy to find, you cannot go wrong with simple, classic winter gloves/mittens. They get straight to the point and there are many affordable options available at retail and online.

2.       Heated Gloves / mittens: A battery is used to heat the gloves / mittens keeping your hands extra warm, however consider battery life and ensure they are wind proof and water proof. These can also be a bit more pricey  

3.       Fingerless Gloves: Great for rock climbing, operating machinery, using your thumb print to unlock your phone, these types of gloves will keep your hand warm while allowing some flexibility. Consider what you will need these for, as they of course have their weaknesses. Will you be in the cold longer then normal? Are you going to workout in a cold environment where you prefer to lift having exposed fingers for better grip? Some mittens have similar options and there are even combinations of both mittens and gloves called “glittens.”

Cold Weather Gear

 Lower Body Gear Essentials

Pants

There are many options to choose from when considering leg wear to keep you warm. Jeans, although sturdy, is usually made of cotton. Cotton does not trap heat and in fact does the opposite. This makes denim not the greatest choice for cold conditions. This doesn’t mean you cannot wear jeans. There are many options to keep your legs snug for the winter:

Cold weather Jeans

These types of jeans usually have some type of extra lining to help keep you legs warm. Flannel lined jeans are a great example as they help retain heat. Some cons for these types of jeans are scarce, and also aren’t the most stylish. If style is more important then warmth, you could consider a heavier denim weight instead. The thicker and stiffer the fabric the warmer.

Thermals pants

Also known as thermal fleece, there are many thermal options available that can be found easily in most retail and online. You can simply wear a thin layer under your jeans to keep you warm all while retaining some style.

Sweatpants

You could also consider wearing sweatpants underneath your jeans if extra warmth is needed while maintaining some style. Although warmer than thermals, sweatpants tend to be thicker depending on material and design.

Footwear

Like gloves and mittens, keeping your feet and toes is essential if you want to thrive in the cold. We recommend the following in footwear:

Winter Socks

Winter socks will be thicker using materials similar to mittens and gloves. Cotton does not retain heat well, so most winter socks are made of wool, shearling, fleece and similar synthetic materials. Luckily, you can find winter socks anywhere, both retail and online.

Winter Shoes

There are some options out there to keep your feet warm that do not involve wearing boots. Made with materials like Gore-tex, fleece lined interiors, and other water resistant materials, these shoes can keep you warm while retaining some style. To see these options in more detail click here.

Boots

There is no other option better then winter boots to keep your foot warm and dry from rain and snow. Although there are shoes that are water-resistant, they could never replace the longevity of a well-made boot. There are different types of boots ranging from snow boots to simply winter boots. Some are water resistant; some are water proof.

 If you plan to be outside in a snowy environment, well then cop a pair of snow boots. If you are going to be in a cold area where you are mostly going to be indoor, then a winter boot will suffice. Keep in mind snow boots are bulkier and heavier due to the materials used. These types of boots are usually used by people who have to spend a lot of time outside in the snow like construction workers, farmers, etc.

On the other hand, winter boots will do the job if you are visiting a cold area and do not expect to spend most of the day outside. These are also lighter and retain more style if that is important to you.

Most of the boots will have some sort of temperature rating so you can use this to figure out what boots make sense for you. Breathability, comfort, boot traction, should also be considered. Luckily, there are a ton of options available both retail and online.

Next On The Cold Weather Gear Article is The Layering System

I’ve introduced the gear needed to provide warmth from head to toe. Now lets get more in depth with layering, and how to combine all of the gear mentioned.

No matter your winter season activity, staying warm in the cold weather requires finding the right combination of layers. The specific layers depend on the temperature, your body, how much you sweat, and wind speeds. When it comes to layers, there are three that you should pay attention to.

These include the following:

Inner Layer

Inner layer or base layer is your next-to-skin layer. It regulates your body temperature by moving moisture away from your skin. In other words, it helps keep you dry and reduces the risk of hypothermia during the winter season. A base layer can be anything from sports bras and briefs to tights to long underwear sets (bottoms and tops) and moisture-wicking shirts. Inner layer should fit snuggly up against the body for best results. Polypropylene, silk, and wool are ideal choices as they hold more body heat than other materials, e.g. cotton.

Insulation Layer

The insulation layer or mid layer traps air close to your body to retain the heat. This layer fits right over the base layer and it is a bit loose, hence has sufficient room to move freely. For high-energy activities in the winter, e.g. running, cycling, cross-country skiing, etc., it is recommended that you choose lightweight fleece for your insulation layer to prevent overheating. Natural fibers like goose down and wool are also good options. Thermals should also be considered.

Outer Layer

The outer layer is extremely important for cold weather, because if water and wind are allowed to penetrate your inner layers, you will start to feel cold. The outer layer or shell layer protects you from snow, rain, and wind. Outer layers range from simple windproof jackets to costly mountaineering jackets. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape and have water repellent properties. As mentioned, the jackets we recommend will definitely help you against the elements and keep you warm.

Cold Weather Gear Dos and Don’ts

Apart from above-listed guidelines, following are some dos and don’ts of cold weather gear that you should keep in mind:

Do
  • Wear a high-wicking inner layer for optimal results.
  • Ensure that you keep yourself dry both inside and out.
  • Keep in mind that breathability is important in all layers, similar to insulation.
  • Shoot a size up with outer layers so that there’s sufficient room for your inner layer and mid layer.
Don’t
  • Wear cotton. Other materials, e.g. wool, silk, polypropylene, etc. are much better options.
  • Allow yourself to work up a sweat before you shed a layer. This is because it can lead to increased risk of hypothermia as that sweat can quickly cool off.

Cold Weather Gear Conclusion

Keeping warm in the cold winter season is easy with a little preparation. It’s all about utilizing the right combination of layers according to your body, temperature, and other factors. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually very easy to do.

Simply follow the above-listed guidelines and cold gear recommendations to keep you snug and warm even in extreme cold weather. If you don’t have the budget, you can always layer pieces that you already have with various thrift store finds. In this way, you will be both economical and cozy. We hope you find this to be very helpful if not informative. Till Next Time- The Black Sheep

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