Mélina Lamarche

By Mélina Lamarche

February 16, 2016

Health

How to Stay Warm and Bundle Up This Winter

Article revised on 16 January 2018

If you want to brave the winter cold and have fun skating, tobogganning, skiing or just walking outside, it’s important to dress appropriately. Here are two easy steps!

1. Dress in layers, and customize according to your level of exertion

The goal of layering is to allow you to add or remove layers in order to regulate your body temperature. When you sweat, your clothing becomes damp. Since water conducts heat better than air, your body can lose heat 25 times faster when in direct contact with damp clothing. A little difference can have major consequences, particularly in frigid temperatures.

Outdoor professionals recommend wearing three layers of clothing. The base layer is especially important, because it is next to your skin. Its role is to keep you dry by wicking moisture away from your body.

The mid layer protects you from the cold by trapping your body heat, while wicking away moisture and drying quickly. More than one article of clothing may make up your mid layer, depending on the level of protection required.

The weatherproof outer layer must be windproof and waterproof, while allowing moisture from your body to evaporate. This layer is generally the most technical (and expensive) one.

Placing one layer over another enables you to take advantage of warm air that’s trapped between each article of clothing. The layering principle is important not only for protecting your core but also your legs, hands and head.

2. Carefully choose the fabrics for each layer

A waterproof rain jacket over a cotton shirt can ruin your winter activity, since cotton absorbs water and takes a long time to dry.

Base layer

In general, your base layer should be made of quick-drying hydrophobic fibres. Various synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, acrylic and polypropylene, have these qualities. Merino wool – pure or a wool and synthetic fibre blend – can also be used as a warmer base layer. It has the undeniable advantage of being odour-resistant.

Mid layer

Light, warm and affordable polar fleece, natural down (although much more expensive) and synthetic insulating materials such as PrimaLoft or softshell fabrics are recommended for the mid layer. This layer also includes hybrid materials, which have insulating and waterproof or windproof qualities. A wide range of outerwear is made of WINDSTOPPER® or softshell fabrics.

Outer layer

Lastly, the well-known Gore-Tex® shells – or their less well-known equivalents, such as eVent or Pro Shell® – most often make up the outer layer. The waterproof, windproof and breathable exterior is bonded between the lining and the outer textile. Although such generally high-performance clothing items are fairly expensive, you can consider them as a long-term investment, because a well-maintained quality outer layer will last for many years.

Ready to go play outside? Don’t forget that the way you dress can make all the difference between winter fun and misery! Consult an outdoor professional for advice on what to wear, based on your needs. Have fun out there!

 

Sources:
Mountain Equipment Coop
Camp to Camp

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