I hate being cold. Like, I really hate it.
So, it’s a good thing that I’ve figured out how to never be cold – ever. I grew up in International Falls, MN and now live in Minneapolis, MN. There’s a big, nasty polar vortex ripping through the state right now and a lot of people are freaking out about it. Not me. My system is dialed in. I know how to stay warm all winter, and I’m going to share my secrets with you. Here are all of things that I swear by (and also the topics I annoy my coworkers with by discussing ad nauseam):
1. Start Stockpiling Merino Wool
In my opinion nothing beats modern merino wool. Five years ago base layers were all polypropylene and you didn’t have many merino options. Today you can get anything you want in merino wool, and in my opinion you should. It’s antibacterial, doesn’t stink, is very durable, and keeps you warm if you get wet. It’s also very breathable, so it’s comfortable across a wide temperature range. It’s not going to be cheap. It took me 2-3 years to get everything I wanted. Head to toe, these were the best deals I’ve found:
Hat and neckwarmer: Smartwool.
Base layer top and bottom: Minus33 all the way. I’ve worn my top base layer almost every day for two winters and it’s showing no signs of wear whatsoever. Their clothing is well made and reasonably priced compared to Icebreaker, Smartwool, etc.
Socks: Darn Tough socks are as good as it gets and it’s money well spent because they have a lifetime guarantee. Be wary of blends. Always look at the percentages. Target actually has an excellent 80% merino unisex wool sock for about $8. It’s an incredible deal. For some reason they only stock them in the women’s dept. If you need to spend a little less they’re also a great deal.
2. Flannel Lined Jeans Are A Little Bit Life Changing
I start wearing these in November and don’t take them off until March (no not the same pair). Seriously – it feels like you’re wearing pajamas and no one is the wiser. You’ll never go back. Personally I didn’t want a pair that made it look like I was going to work on a pipline somewhere. A lot of them a too heavy duty for casual wear. My current favorites are Mountain Khakis.
3. Steger Mukluks
My Steger mukluks are hands down the warmest boots I’ve ever owned. Nothing is even a close second. They’re only for really cold weather though. If it’s above freezing and it’s slushy and wet, you don’t want mukluks. I can run around in -10 all day in them and my toes are toasty. With that said, I know that Stegers aren’t for everyone. My advice outside of Stegers is to find a boot with a flexible sole and try them on with thick wool socks. Get a pair that gives you a lot of room in the toe box. If you feet can’t move very much you’re going to get cold. If you can’t afford a sweet new pair of boots right now but you love to be outdoors get some adhesive toe warmers. They’re amazing.
4. Get A Boot Dryer
Think your boots aren’t damp? Wrong. They are. When you wear your boots every day they never fully dry out, and that compromises their ability to keep you warm. I have this little one ($60) and it works great. You’ll use it for shoes, boots, gloves, hats, etc. At least once a week I’ll forget my boots out on the porch in the winter. If you have a boot dryer it’s no big deal. They’ll be toasty warm in 10 minutes (a hair dryer works well in this situation too).
5. Get A Pair of Smartwool Liner Gloves
Even the best winter gloves/mittens tend to get sweaty after awhile, leaving your hands cold. A pair of thin Smartwool Liner Gloves ends that. You hands will stay dry and warm all day.
6. Stay Hydrated
I have a friend who, when asked about staying warm in the winter will just say, “water and wool.” She says that staying hydrated and wearing a lot of wool is your best bet. I agree with her, and if you Google it, you’ll find that you do need to drink more water in the winter. The air is drier and dehydrates us quicker. When you’re dehydrated everything is more difficult, including staying warm and avoiding illness. Pound water in the winter!
7. Get Remote Start For Your Vehicle
Try to find someone that regrets dropping the cash for remote start on their car. You won’t. My wife and I got it for the first time three years ago on our SUV and I can say that I’ll never own another car in my life without it. You can get by with less gear if you have it too, because you’re just running from warm place to warm place.
8. You’d Care A Lot Less What Others Think Of You If You Realized How Seldom They Do – So Wear What You Want
No one is paying attention to me when I’m walking around with every piece of merino wool I own so I wear what keeps me warm. People in really cold climates are generally very practical in the winter. However, we all see those people scurrying along in almost nothing complaining about the low temps. When it’s -20 you can’t have it both ways. Personally, I think everyone around you benefits when you’re warm and in a good mood, so I say wear whatever you want and don’t worry about it. Besides, I think Steger Mukluks are pretty sexy.
I asked my friends on Facebook how they stayed warm on the coldest days and got some great responses. I’m adding them because I don’t want you to get cold and crabby. No one wants that. Especially you.
- If I’m doing anything outside I chew on candied ginger and make sure to reward myself with pho afterwards.
- Carharts and Keens and Smart Wool.
- Those Heater packs (all day heat), under Armour 4.0 base layer, a hood over your beanie, lots of liquids cause if dehydrated your body works harder to stay warm, and eat a big meal the night before.
- Well I recently purchased closed cell neoprene (scuba dry wear material ) gloves. They’re incredible . Way back in the eighties my friend and I were skiing in subzero weather with scuba gear under our ski gear. We were the only two people out there.
- It’s all attitude! The crisp air makes me feel alive, alert and ready to conquer whatever task at hand. Of course I go outside dressed appropriately so I don’t freeze my skin. Layers! And enjoy warm beverages , soup, etc. when inside.
- I layer myself.. Three deep at minimum!
- My Ugg gloves were a brilliant purchase 3 years ago. Worth every dollar. Also SmartWool socks. I also wear a Patagonia fleece layer almost 24/7. Have two favs that I alternate. And I never venture out without a scarf. And great hand lotion for liberal applications throughout the day and before bed.
- Bird chirping sounds in the am and crickets in the pm on my coy pond app. And watching movies that take place in the summer.