The Best Cold Weather Gear and 5 Essential Tips for Enjoying Winter

It’s dumping snow out there (hopefully), the temperature is dropping, and you need to venture outside. Follow these tips, throw on some great cold weather gear, and you’ll welcome the rush of cold air into your lungs this winter.

1. Dress Like an Onion

Layers offer both protection and versatility. Get too hot, shed one or two. Too cold? Zip up or throw another one on top. While this isn’t exactly rocket science, there is a system of layering to ensure the most comfort and optimal protection for cold or wet conditions.  Keep in mind there are 2 to 4 million sweat glands on the average person. Regardless of the temperature, if you’re clothed and exercising you will most likely be sweating.

Base Layer

Start with a good base layer, which should hug your body closely. This will help pull the sweat away from your skin for faster evaporation. Look for synthetic material or a sport-wool that will continue to insulate when wet. The colder it is, the thicker your base layer may need to be.  If the mercury dips below 20 degrees we like to throw on a base layer for our legs as well. And at all costs avoid cotton: the touch, the feel, the fabric of hypothermia…

Mid Layer

Mid layers will provide more insulation, yet should still retain sweat-wicking properties for some activities. The colder it is, the thicker or more lofty the layer should be.

Outer Layer

Depending on the conditions, your outermost layer can provide more insulation or protection from the elements. A heavy down jacket or vest is perfect for dry and calmer weather, but may cause you to overheat if you’re exercising hard. Rain, snow and wind requires a hard or soft shell to keep the moisture out.

2. Protect Your Little Piggies

There’s nothing quite like the stinging pain of frostbite. Nobody likes it, yet without the proper gear you can guarantee toes and fingers will be screaming in the cold.  Don’t forget about your face either. Exposed nose, cheeks, ears, and chins can easily get frost nipped especially in windy conditions. If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold as fast as possible and slowly warm the affected area (don’t rub the skin).

3. Respect Colorado

Colorado is a thief. Go outside unprotected and it will rob you of precious warmth. Clothing works by trapping a layer of your own body heat against you. Wind cuts through most clothing and steals this insulating layer. Fight back with an arsenal of modern soft and hard shells. Many of these jackets now have windproof features, which prevent air penetration while staying breathable and lightweight. The weather in Colorado can change in an instant, be prepared. And if you’re not enjoying the weather, wait 15 minutes, it may change.

4. Have a Drink

You may be familiar with the adage “you are what you eat”, but this applies to temperature as well as nutrition. Consuming warm foods and beverages will provide temporary immunity from the cold and raise your body temperature from the inside out. Soups, teas, and coffees are great choices before venturing outside. For backcountry adventures, consider taking a thermos with you.

5. Watch Those Peepers

Proper eye protection is an absolute must in Crested Butte, on and off the slopes. Bright sunshine, at high altitude, can quickly sunburn your eyes if you’re not wearing sunglasses or goggles with UV protection. Snow goggles are the best solution for snow sports because they protect from every angle–including the bright reflection of light off the white snow, which can easily sunburn your eyes from below in regular sunglasses. If you feel like your goggles or sunglasses just won’t cut it (or you forgot your pair at home), swing through Mountain Tops & Shades on Elk Avenue for the latest Smith, Spy Optics, Ray Bans and more.