Construction and Renovation

Dressing Warm for Winter Activity

I find myself explaining how to dress for the elements almost daily. Why have we gotten away from basics like dressing functional? Especially here in the northeast!

So here's the breakdown.

Thermal Underwear: I've heard complaints about the old waffle knit long johns that we grew up with. Target carries some great options and doesn't charge "outfitter store" prices, best of all they aren't waffle knit. A poly blend will perform the best. Ladies, they make very thin base layers now and yes they fit under your skinny jeans.

Wool Socks: Wool wicks - End of story. What's all this wick talk? Think of a candle, the wax travels up the wick to be burned at the flame. Sweat from your feet will travel up the sock to keep your feet dry. Wet feet are cold feet, dry feet are warm feet.

Flannel Lined Pants: If you haven't found a pair of flannel lined pants yet I highly suggest Patagonia. I know they are expensive but you'll have them forever! Flannel, like wool, keeps you warm even when wet. You'll find if your legs are warm your feet will stay warmer longer. 

** Tuck in your Shirt! I know it's lame and uncool, but it will help create a seal and keep the heat in. You can just tuck in the base layers and no one will notice. Make sure your socks are over your thermals though, remember the wicking? 

Vest: When it comes to mobility a vest represents it in clothing form! Keep your core warm while your arms do all the work. Vests are my go to outer wear but when it's really cold a vest makes a great layer. With a vest under your jacket it's easy to shed layers as your body heat ramps up. 

Gloves: So gloves are a never ending battle for me. I have square hands and they run hot. As with feet, once you start to sweat you'll soon be freezing. So I have a pair of gloves for just about every activity - excessive? Yes! But since they're always in rotation my gloves last for years. MY gloves are more for protection from hard frozen objects, there's nothing worse than smashing your cold knuckles against an even colder piece of steel.

Hats and Face Masks: You have to know what works for you here. I wear a basic wool cap. Again, I run hot and it's all about what I can take off as I get going. Whether it's cutting wood or cross country skiing, when you move you use energy and energy makes heat. The more I wear the warmer I am, but I need to be able to fold it up and stick in a pocket or backpack. So like yesterday, I started the day at 3 above and after a couple hours it was 14 above. By then I had taken off my bellaclava, jacket and vest. My body no longer needed to circulate the heat, it was time to ventilate. 

What's my point?


It's taken years of experimenting but I found layers that work for me and you can do the same. Function before fashion but function can be fashionable. Your base layers do the work by keeping your heat close to your body. It's really up to you what you put on over it. But one heavy jacket is not a fix all. Keep yourself warm with layers and dry with impermeable shells like nylon or canvas and rubber soled boots. 

Now get out there!