Dressing for cold weather takes a little trial and error, but you can stay comfortable in all conditions.
You probably know the basics: dress in layers and avoid cotton during cold weather. It’s good advice, but there’s more to it if you want to stay comfortable outdoors during frigid weather. Here are some tips beyond the basics that may help:
Your base layer (long underwear) is most important because it’s next to your skin. Invest in a good base layer because you can wear it during spring and fall, too.
Match your clothes to your heart rate. Rigorous activities such cross-country skiing, off-trail snowshoeing or winter cycling don’t require bulky clothing like sedentary or low-intensity activities do.
Don’t overdress. Overheating can make you just as uncomfortable as being cold.
Wear something to cover all your bare skin. You will notice the cold on any bare skin and it can affect how warm you feel all over.
Bring extra gloves. Gloves often get wet from snow or sweat and make your hands cold. Dry gloves will rewarm them and don’t take much space.
Your feet also sweat, which makes them cold. Change into dry socks for the drive home and you will have noticeably warmer feet.
Regulate your body temperature with your hat. As soon as you feel yourself overheating, take off your hat. Put it back on when you cool off.
Be steady and consistent with your exertion. If you’re doing aerobic activities, dress light and make it a short outing and then get inside to someplace warm. If you’re walking or going for an easy hike, don’t charge up a hill or do something that will make you overheat and sweat.
If you’re bulking the layers, keep them loose. Bunched-up clothes don’t insulate as well.
Goose down is the warmest insulation for its weight, and the higher the “fill” number, the better it insulates. If you’re wearing it as a mid layer, don’t let the down get compressed or it loses some of its insulating ability.
Your feet usually will stay warmer with a thin sock beneath a midweight sock rather than just a thick sock. Also, they shouldn’t fit too tight, which will reduce circulation to your feet.
In cold, dry weather, a breathable outer layer is better than waterproof, which doesn’t breathe as well and can make you clammy and cold.
If you wear leather boots, waterproof them. Wet leather draws a lot of heat from your feet.