How to Dress for the Cold: Staying Warm in Freezing Conditions

How to Dress for the Cold: Staying Warm in Freezing Conditions


Today we are headed on a big adventure up above treeline during the winter months. Now the high peaks in New England during
the winter can be furocious places where the elements can be severe. It’s crucial to dress appropriately and
safely to navigate these winter conditions. The
first element is a base layer. The base layer is designed to fit snugly on your entire
body from your ankles to your neck, without any
bunching or gaps. We’re now going to tackle the first
elements of protecting our feet. Now, just like on the rest of our body, I use a base layer for my feet. In this case it’s
a liner sock. Over that we want our warmest insulating sock possible. I prefer a heavy-duty wool stock, which provides
padding still insulates well even when it gets slightly
damp and provide extra padding inside your shoe. OK. Our next layer is our our bib or pants. This is our first wind-proof,
waterproof layer that we’re going to be adding over top of our base layer. The bibs are
your armor for your lower body and chest. I prefer bibs because they
provide ankle-to-waist coverage with the
additional extension over your torso that eliminates any potential for gaps
around your waist. OK, our next layer is one that’s entirely
dependent on conditions and your personal preference and
tolerance to cold. Now your options are either something as simple as a vest, you can wear your insulating jacket of preference. OK,
your next layer is your jacket. This is our windproof over-layer that
goes on top of our base layer bibs and whatever
insulation we’ve provided. Key features to look for in selecting your
jacket is wind-proofness— anything that’s GoreTex or another kind of
waterproof breathable material—will be 100 percent wind-proof. Some materials like soft-shells that
provide better breathability but are not necessary 100 percent waterproof, would be appropriate for a very cold weather excursion where you’re dealing with snow and ice rather than liquid rain. It’s imperative to have a hood that easily and comfortably fits over your head and all of your headwear. OK, we’re down to
just our hands and our head. Just like your feet and body, it’s important to have the equivalent of long underwear for your hands. Just like
your socks, these would be called liner gloves. We’re going to need more than this to keep our hands from becoming frigid popsicles on our adventure. We can either go with an over-glove or an over-mitt. An over-glove provides you with a fair amount of dexterity. The drawback is that they’re not nearly as warm as a mitt. Mitts are essentially sleeping bags for your hands. The tradeoff is a loss of dexterity. I find manipulating an ice ax or trekking poles with mittens to be quite challenging. Alright, we’re
down to the final piece of the puzzle: Our heads. Anything that’s exposed
can frostbite in a matter of minutes when conditions are severe enough. You’ll notice that nowhere on my face or head is there any exposed skin. I’m
fully protected from the wind. Be safe above treeline!

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