Before you know it old man winter will be literally breathing down our necks. Cold weather can be a real impediment to a walking routines. Who after all wants to get out of a nice warm bed and take a walk on a cold frigid morning. So staying reasonably warm and comfortable is important to staying active during the cold winter months. What sort of walking equipment should we be looking for to help keep us reasonably warm and comfortable? Each body part has different heat retention and moisture wicking requirements and needs to be addressed separately. So one by one we’ll give you the low down on the things you should consider when you gearing up for a winter walk.
An key to keeping your upper body warm is to layer your clothing. It’s important not only to keep your upper body insulated from the cold but you’ll need to deal with moisture (sweat) issues as well. The best approach for the upper body is to use three layers of clothing: a moisture wicking layer, an insulation layer and a waterproof/windproof layer. The fist layer, the one next to your skin, should me made of materials that draws moisture away. With the exception of silk, synthetic materials perform the wicking function better than natural. Look for garments that contain a high percentage of acrylics or polypropylene. These materials have excellent wicking properties. There are trade names that you can look for: Themax, Thinsulate and Themion for examaple. Surprisingly to some I ‘m sure, cotton is not a good wicking material and should typically be avoided for this application. The next layer’s function is to keep the body heat where it belongs, next to you. Here natural fibers are king. Wool, fleece or down work best. Finally comes the waterproof/windproof layer. Here again look for synthetic materials, nylon being the most prevalent. Heavy duty “rubberized” rain gear is not recommended. The materiel is typically not “breathable” and will trap too much heat and moisture, making it difficult for the insulation and wicking layers to keep things in balance.
Two layers should be sufficient to keep the legs warm and dry. A wicking inner layer of the above mentioned synthetics materials plus a nylon outer shell will do the trick.
A hat and or ear protecting headband is a “must have” to stay warm and dry. If you go the hat route it’s a good idea to get a ski cap style or one with a neck drawstring to keep it in place during a sudden gust of wind. If you chose a headband or ski cap, it should be of a high wicking materials composition . A neck scarf should also considered, depending on the configuration of your other clothing.
Mittens work well, keeping the fingers a bit warmer by keeping them in close proximity to one another. But my favorite glove design is layered. An inner glove of wool with an leather or nylon outer layer.
Here again insulation and moisture control is important when selecting the proper winter walking sock. For the right combination of wicking and warming, select a sock of wool blended with an acrylic or polypropylene.
Shoes or Boots.
Waterproof walking sneakers or boots are an absolute necessity during the winter. Even if you boots or sneakers claim to be waterproof, it’s best to apply additional waterproofing protection to insure that they provide the best possible protection and are able to stand up to rough conditions present during winter. Care should be taken that the shoes or boots have adequate tread to insure proper traction.. Should your shoes get soaked, stuff them with paper or a cedar shoe trees and let them air dry. Never put them in the dryer or near any heat source,
A cheap thin plastic hooded rain poncho and a change of socks would be good extras to keep in your fanny pack during the winter months.
As with all things common sense should reign supreme. Match the layering to the temperature and weather conditions and don’t get overheated. If you get uncomfortable, remove a layer. The insulating one would be best. Just tie it around your waist. The walking equipment and clothing selected should not interfere with your walking motion and provide for a full range of arm and leg movement. They should be relatively light and loose fitting. No need to layer like Ralpy’s brother in the movie “Christmas Story”.
Proper layering is the key to keeping you reasonably dry and warm during your walk and that’s the key to keeping you active during the cold winter months. Take the time to match your walking equipment to the conditions on the road and it will be spring before you know it.