There’s a well-kept secret among cold-weather adventurers: winter is the best season outdoors. No crowds or bugs, but plenty of fleeting winter spectacles, from the Northern Lights to frozen waterfalls.
What else do these winter devotees all have in common? They know the key to enjoying winter’s bounty is staying warm, and they’ve dialed in all the cold-weather tricks, layering strategies, and outdoor skills to do it right. They are Masters of Warmth, and here are some of their tips. Find dozens more here.
Maximize Body Heat
Feeling chilled? Do the boot dance, says Tres Barbatelli, an ice climber and ice farmer for Colorado’s Ouray Ice Park. “If you’re cold, someone else is usually cold, too. And the great thing about the boot dance is that if you and a partner start doing it, at least two other people will try, too. Just tap the insides of your feet to the other person’s, then the outsides, in a rhythmic pattern. Pick up the pace; it can get going pretty fast. Pretty soon, everybody’s warm.”
Choose the Right Insulating Materials
- Down: Duck or goose feathers. Packable, lightweight, and ultra warm. Doesn’t retain warmth when wet. Look for down insulation with a water-resistant coating that makes it more effective in wet conditions.
- Synthetic: Human-made fibers or insulation. Usually heavier and bulkier, but more affordable and continues to insulate even when wet. Many synthetic fills are now made with recycled content.
- Omni-Heat Infinity: A cutting-edge, heat-reflective technology from Columbia. Uses a dense pattern of gold foil dots to reflect body heat, dramatically boosting warmth without adding weight or compromising breathability.
Keep Your Feet Warm
“Wear thin socks,” says John Wingfield, a pro photographer and Alaskan Northern Lights guide. “People think that when it’s really cold, you need to wear thick socks or two pairs. But really, the layer of air between your foot and the boot actually works as an insulator. If your socks are too thick, they’ll cut off your circulation and make your feet colder.”
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