Best of … warm thermal layering
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
Contributed by Aurora LaJambre, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Dressing right in winter makes the difference between catching a chill walking to the mailbox and spending hours on the slopes, sightseeing or enjoying almost any other outdoor activity.
The best warm thermal layering will insulate you for hours while feeling soft and comfortable against your skin. You’ll need to wear at least three layers to protect your body sufficiently, and tuck the ends in to winter essentials like thick socks and gloves.
Long underwear sounds hilarious when it’s 90 degrees outside and you’re sipping something frosty by the pool, but in winter it’s no joke. The inner layer, a.k.a. base layer, does the crucial job of insulating and wicking moistures from the skin. You need a snug-fitting base layer for your top and bottom made of merino wool or synthetic materials like polypropylene and silk blends to ensure you’ll stay dry. On the other hand, if you’re only running errands and looking for a simple way to stay comfortable, wear a thermal Henley and pant from ValueFest beneath your jeans and sweater to stay toasty without overheating.
The middle layer traps warmth. Thicker than your base, a thermal fleece or pullover should fit well or it can’t do its job. Multiple thermal layering is far more effective at keeping you warm than an over-sized sweatshirt no matter how heavy it is. Plus, fitted layers allow you to move easily. When asked what the best middle layer is for heavy winter activity, Outside magazine recommends a down sweater by either Patagonia or MontBell. These sweaters cost more than $150, but they last for years, provide all the warmth you’ll need in temperatures as low as the teens, and won’t take up much room in a suitcase.
The outer layer is the layer people see when you’re outside. This needs to be wind and water resistant, yet breathable so moisture can escape. The best outer layer for you will depend on your purpose and the temperatures. You can always add another middle layer in colder temperatures so choose a lighter weight shell so you won’t overheat once you’re skiing or hiking. Parka pants and jackets are a common sight on slopes for this reason. Winter sports coats range in price from sort of high to very high. Keep an eye out for major sales, particularly for North Face at Gander Mountain and Columbia brands.
Hats and Hoods
Covering you head and ears helps insulate the entire body, but choosing the right coverage for your purpose and style can be challenging. The Giro Merino Winter cap is comfy, doesn’t block peripheral vision and it tucks down into a high-collared jacket. For runners and cyclists, the fleece balaclava at Sierra Trading Post is a flexible option that covers your neck, face and head.
Protect the Digits
Thermal gloves give you full control of your hands whether you’re driving or working outdoors. For play, choose thick synthetic gloves with a grip (if you’re a skier) like Altrec’s triclimate gloves. Your fingers are vulnerable even during intense activity like running so keep them covered with a wind-blocking material, and save the stylish knit gloves for errands.
Socks and Shoes
The best way to keep your feet warm is to keep them dry. Choose waterproof boots made of a breathable material, and remember that fleece and wool socks keep feet significantly warmer than cotton. Thorlo winter socks come in different thicknesses depending on your activity and feature pressure point padding. Choose a boot made for your sport of choice, or try a good hiking boot with warm socks and remember to tuck your pant legs in.