One could make a pretty convincing argument for spending more time indoors during this season. It's much easier to avoid the cooler temps and falling snow by sitting on your butt in front of the TV or computer instead.
There's a pretty good chance we're over complicating this issue though because when you boil it down, the biggest change from summer fun is simply having the right clothing to get outside and enjoy yourself (if you find yourself arguing with that synopsis, you're not an authentic outdoor enthusiast, but there's still hope for you...read on!)
The technology behind today's equipment makes it effortless to stay warm and dry even in the worst conditions. At the Air Forces' Arctic Survival School, students are taught the 3-W's acronym for cold weather layering.
Warm- the second layer's job is trapping the heat that your body emits. (down and wool are good options, here’s a good one) Typically these materials won't shed moisture and often lose their insulating properties when they get wet so one more layer completes your defense.
Weather-this layer repels water and is breathable so as not to trap the moisture that your body expels. Sometimes a soft shell will get the job done but Gortex is my personal favorite. Check out this full system! And don’t forget the pants.
The 3-W's are foundational to cold weather protection, but rounding out the cold weather defense involves following the COLDER principle which goes like this:
Clean- as in, keep it this way because dirty clothing loses its insulating qualities. Not only that, you don’t want to be the smelly kid on your adventure.
Overheating- obviously, this is something to avoid as sweat makes you cold. Not just like a little chilled either. You lose heat 25 times faster when you are wet so you need to stay dry from the inside out and vice-versa.
Loose and layered- tight-fitting clothing restricts the blood flow that's trying to keep you warm, so baggy is best! The layered approach allows you to take off a shirt if you feel yourself getting a little too warm or loan it to a partner who showed up to the party ill-prepared.
Dry- this has been covered several times above and if it feels like this is repetitive, it is! Staying dry is critical! You know how you feel when you step out of a shower, right? You’re a little chilled and you can’t wait to get toweled off. But now imagine stepping out of that same shower into a winter wonderland. You’ll be a popsicle before you can even say, “Frostnip!”
Examine- adventures are hard on gear, so keep an eye on your equipment to prevent damage and if you find something that needs attention...
Repair-fix it before it becomes a bigger problem and compromises your safety. Frostbite and hypothermia are life-threatening injuries and a really stupid way to die.
Keeping these tips in mind and having the right equipment will ensure you keep the adventure going all season. Additionally, you'll find the places you love less crowded simply because most people are unwilling to go the distance during this time of year. Have fun out there!
About the Author
JD is founder of iwillmakeyouhardtokill.com. His site is dedicated to a wide variety of skills that improve survivability in emergency situations as well as everyday life. He is a retired Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Specialist with 20 years of active duty service teaching aircrew and special operations personnel how to survive, evade, resist and escape at the U.S. Air Force Survival School located at Fairchild AFB, Washington.