For many of us, moving into autumn means moving into cold weather. That doesn’t have to mean hibernation!!
I’ve found there are two major factors in not retreating indoors during cold weather.
How to Not Retreat Inside when the Weather turns Cold
The first factor is pictured in the photo above: Get Excited about it!
Have the Right Mindset
Our mindset is probably the #1 determination about whether or not we look forward to the cold and are willing to get out in it!
(And, by the way, “cold” is relative—what’s cold to you might be different than what’s cold to me! Doesn’t matter, really.)
When I look outside and look at the temperature, I can have a couple different reactions:
“It’s freezing! Forget it.” Or…“It’ll be invigorating! Let’s go.”
The mindset I have about cold weather is what’ll determine my attitude about it.
Have the Right Gear
The #2 factor is having the right gear. I can have the best attitude in the world, but reality hits the moment I walk outside!
We don’t want to sabotage our good intentions by settling for worthless gear that lets in the cold, wind and wet.
Here’s what you want to look for:
Keep the Warmth In
BE SURE you read the tags on any outwear you buy. If it says “polyester fill” it’s not warm! If it says “down and feather fill” it’s warm! (Just because something is poofy and quilted means nothing. Read the tags.)
Down and feathers are good enough for the ducks and geese all winter long—they’re good enough for us, too! Even a little bit of down is amazingly warm. I bought a $24.99 packable down jacket from Sam’s Club a couple years ago, and it’s great for temps into the 20s and even teens, if it’s not windy (although it’s not in the least wet-proof!).
Get a quality down coat with wind-blocking shell and you’re good for below-zero. (And it doesn’t have to break the bank…You can go with The North Face or Patagonia and spend several hundred dollars—or look into LL Bean or Lands End for the same quality, but affordable!)
Natural fibers like down and wool are wonderful insulators. Synthetic fibers like fleece and Columbia’s Omni-Heat® are also great. Keep in mind, though, that none of these are wind-resistant (except Omni-Heat®)…
Keep the Wind and Wet Out
Here in Minnesota where temps are also measured in “wind chill” during the winter, having a good outer wind-and-wet blocking layer makes a huge difference.
Again, read the tags! If you have a choice between “wind-resistant” and “wind-proof” go with proof every time. That means it blocks it all out. And if it’s windproof it’s pretty much wet-proof, or at least wet-resistant.
One mistake we can make is to focus just on a quality jacket, or just on nice boots.
To really enjoy ourselves out in real cold weather, though (which, again is relative!), we want to be covered from head-to-toe:
- Hat, headband, maybe even face mask
- Insulating top with wind-and-wet-blocking jacket or coat
- Gloves or mittens
- Insulating pants like long johns, running tights for inside or wind-and-wet blocking snowpants
- Warm socks—preferably wool, because wool breathes
- Waterproof shoes or boots with good tread. Insulation depends on the activities you’ll do and the temps you’re in.
Here are a few posts I’ve written that review gear I personally use:
- Marmot Pre-cip Jacket (wind-and-wet-proof shell)
- Seirus Fleece Combo scarf & face mask
- Altra Waterproof Trail Runners (this post talks about running in them, but I spent all last winter walking in them and they were just as good!)
- Black Hills Pants
- Buff® Headwear
Have fun and enjoy our coming cold weather!
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.