Get outside this winter: Layer for your outdoor adventures

By Katherine Jaeger
SDSU Extension Youth Outdoor Education Field Specialist

Do you avoid going outside in the winter months because you hate being cold? I used to, too. Then, a friend told me, “There is no such thing as bad weather, but only bad clothing choices.” This message stopped me in my tracks.

Perhaps, rather than avoiding wintertime outdoor activities, I should learn how to dress for them appropriately.

When choosing clothing for those cold winter days, it’s important to plan for your specific activity. Think about the:

• Effort you will be expelling.

• Range of motion you will need.

• Weather on the day you plan.

All of these factors should impact your clothing choices.

Layering works

By using the simple rule of three types of layers, you will be able to stay warm during even the coldest outdoor activities. Layers work on cold days because each serves a distinct function. Just like the wall of a house helps keep the interior warm by using drywall, insulation and then siding, the layers of clothing you choose work together to keep your body warm in cold weather.

The three layers include:

• Base layer.

• Insulating layer.

• Outer shell.

Base layer: Think of your base layer as your long underwear. It should fit somewhat snugly so that your motion is not limited. Base layers are designed to wick moisture away from your body, so cotton fabrics that trap moisture make poor base layers. Rather, choose a wool or synthetic brand.

Insulating layers: Insulating layers are often a fleece material, and they trap heat near your body. This is the layer that you can add to if your day is going to be exceptionally cold or you will be more stationary. It is better to have multiple thin insulating layers than one thick one.

Outer shell: The outer shell is your final protection against the winter elements. This shell should serve as a wind break and to keep out any precipitation that may be falling.

Not all outer shells are created equal, so make sure you make sure you do your research and plan for your specific activity and weather.

By keeping the three layers in mind as your prepare for your outdoor adventures, you will be ready to go no matter what the weather brings!