How do you have fun outside in winter?
If you are going to be outside for any length of time, having the right gear will go a long way to having a fun time. There are a lot of people I know who hate the winter. I get it…it’s cold. Sometimes it’s REALLY cold in New England, but if you have the right gear, you can dress for the temperatures and get out there and enjoy winter activities outdoors.
Snowboarding, snowshoeing, splitboarding, and cross country skiing, are a few of the activities that come to mind to have fun when the flakes start to fly.
There are some basic principles to keep in mind when considering your attire for the day. Your baselayer, the layer up against your skin, should be moisture wicking, and quick drying. That way if you do work up a sweat, the shirt will pull it away from your body and dry quickly. If you stay wet or sweaty, the heat will get sucked out of you 25% faster. Wear merino wool or synthetic materials. Do NOT wear cotton. Cotton retains water and is very slow to dry.
The next layer should be an insulating layer. And it should be something that will insulate even if it gets wet. Primaloft, wool, and fleece are a few examples of layers that will do that.
You also want to have a weatherproof shell. This layer should be waterproof and windproof. Jackets with zippers that allow you to dump heat are ideal. If you feel like you are warming up too much, you open the zip, let the heat escape and then close ‘er up when you need to warm up again. Affectionately call pit zips, or venting zippers, you should find these on most quality jackets. They usually run along your armpit extending a bit up your arm and down your side. The length and zipper configuration vary by jacket, but the point is all the same, to release heat quickly and effectively.
Windproof and waterproof pants with venting zippers can be very helpful too for regulating heat and keeping you dry.
Depending on the temperatures, you may not need all three layers, this is just a starting point, and different activities will require different gear. When you snowboard at the resort you will generate heat on the way down and you can get pretty darn cold on the lift ride up. But at many resorts (especially on the East Coast) most of the runs are not so long that you will work up a sweat that could cause a problem on the cold ride up.
Splitboarding or other backcountry snowboarding requires your own effort to get to the top. You will generate a tremendous amount of heat here. Sweat is your enemy so you need to be smart about your layers and make it easy to dump heat on the go. And you need to have the option to heat up quickly when you stop, because all of that heat that you just generated will be sucked away quickly by very cold air. You need to be able to throw those layers back on quickly when you are ready to transition back to ride mode.
Other activities like cross country skiing or snowshoeing, can be more sustained efforts (without the transitioning and riding down the mountain aspects of splitboarding) so you will still generate a lot of heat, but you shouldn’t have the same fluctuations of temperature. And once you get your setup dialed in, you should have a good idea of what you will need to stay warm (but not too warm) and dry.
Don’t forget your hat. You lose the most heat out of your head and a good hat will help minimize that. Waterproof gloves are also a must. You will have trouble transitioning your splitboard, eating your snacks, and even adjusting your layers if you have no feeling in your hands. So get yourself a good pair of gloves (or mittens). Glove liners can be helpful to keep your dexterity while your hands stay warm. I love my merino wool liners because they keep me warmer when they are wet than other types of liners that I have tried. A facemask will help prevent your face from chapping if it is windy. And don’t forget the sunscreen! Snow reflects a lot of light and cold air can be very drying. Joshua Tree Skin Care makes a fantastic winter stick that has SPF15 and beeswax to protect your skin from sun, wind, and cold.
When you are out in the cold you may not realize how important hydration is. Getting enough fluids can be more challenging because you don’t tend to feel as thirsty. Hydration mixes like those from Skratch Labs are great for replacing lost electrolytes, salts, and sugars without loading you up with a lot of chemicals. They use just the basic, necessary ingredients to replenish you, and the flavors come from real, dehydrated fruits. They even have an apples and cinnamon flavor that is designed to drink warm. Drinking warm fluids will help you feel warm from the inside out. Keep your hydration packs and bottles close to your body to keep their contents from freezing.
You also need to fuel properly to keep your energy level up. When you’re outside having fun, and working hard, it’s not always desirable to take a break….especially when it’s really cold and you have layers to contend with (you will cool off fast when you stop). So something you can grab as you go can be a really great solution. Pocketfuel Naturals are a great option. They are individual servings of nut butter with mix ins that are easy to eat on the go and they provide a tasty and balanced energy source. Skratch Labs has also published a couple of books full of great energy supplying recipes. They are Feed Zone and Feed Zone Portables. These will show you how to make lots of delicious treats ahead of time that are sized and packaged for easy grabbing and eating while you are working.
Don’t let the cold deter you from getting outside and having fun. If you are well prepared, you will realize that the cold is just a temporary inconvenience on the way to having a great time!
Tags: snowboarding base layers, base layers for snowboarding, enjoy winter activities, how to dress for winter activities, dressing for winter activities, base layers for snowboarder, splitboard ri, splitboarding adventures, splitboarding adventure, splitboarding ri