Layering For Winter 101
Updated: Jul 4, 2022
Here are some proven tips from our friend, Sergeant Jon B. from the Canadian Military, who is currently stationed in Yellowknife, NWT, on how to dress appropriately for winter!
Layering is the key to comfort in the winter. You don't want to be too cold, or too hot, so lots of layers that you can add and remove when you're moving around and generating body heat will help avoid soaking your clothes in sweat, and then freezing when you stop moving and cool off.
The following are key items to wear (and make sure you pack):
A moisture wicking layer next to the skin will move sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton next to the skin. It will absorb and keep moisture against your body. Synthetic materials (polypropylene or polyester) is good as it wicks, and dries quickly. Merino wool is even better as it wicks extremely well, and insulates even when wet.
Worn on top of the base layer, a thicker insulating layer (or layers) is what will provide most of the insulation to keep you warm. Sweaters, fleeces, and puffy jackets/pants are all good mid layers. Again, synthetic options such as polyester fleeces, and polyester filled puffy jackets dry quicker, but wool insulates even when wet. Down-filled clothing is extremely warm but loses most of its insulation value when wet.
3) Outer shell
A breathable waterproof (Gore-Tex, or similar products) outer layer (jacket, and pants) are great choices. It breaks the wind to keep cold air from chilling you, protects against moisture from the snow, and allows moisture vapour from perspiration to escape so your clothing stays drier. Depending on what activities you have planned, as well as the weather conditions, a tougher canvas type outer shell (Carhartt or similar) might be what you want, as it is very abrasion resistant, and will be more impervious to sparks from the campfire than a nylon or Gore-Tex shell. A jacket with a hood is always a good choice as it keeps your head and neck warmer.
Warm insulated boots are an absolute necessity. They should be waterproof, and the higher they are, the better they will keep the snow out. As with other clothing items, wool or synthetic socks are the best choices. Cotton is never a good idea. A thin liner sock next to the skin, combined with a thicker insulating sock is a good system to adopt. Looser fitting footwear allows for better circulation, which keeps your feet warm by allowing warm blood to pump into your feet. Boots that are too tight will impede circulation and cause your feet to get colder. If your boots are not sized to accommodate extra layers, trying to cram in a second thick pair of thick socks will be too tight, and can actually make your feet colder.
Warm hats and gloves (or mitts) are a must. Gloves allow more dexterity to accomplish tasks, but mitts keep the
hands much warmer because the fingers are kept together so they warm each other. These items tend to get wet the most often, so you will definitely want to bring lots of spares so you can put on dry ones when this happens. Hang the wet ones in a warm area, or next to (but not too close to) the campfire to dry, and soon enough they'll be ready to put back into the rotation the next time something gets wet.
Now that you know how to dress properly for winter, come join us around the campfire at Camp Moose Trail. Book now.