Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Cross Training: Staying Warm and Dry

Layering 101 & Taking Along Something Hot to Drink! 
Winter is perhaps one of my favorite seasons for getting outdoors. My Dad taught us to love the snow and cold weather. He was always taking us sled night. I tell you my brother invented snowboarding by standing up on his Flexible Flyer on his down hill runs! We wore wool sweaters gloves and hats but none of the technical base layers we have available now. How ever did we survive?

Get Those Layers Right
Wool or Silk or even synthetic base layers beat cotton for winter layering. Why? Well, for one thing once cotton gets wet, it STAYS wet causing you to chill down. That's why denim jeans are not recommended for wear in the wintertime. Same thing. It gets wet, stays wet and then freezes... on you. You'll even do better wearing synthetics than cotton.

Women's Super.Natural Base layers shown here in Caviar

Super.Natural Wool Blend Base layers
These offer the best of both wool and easy care polyester. Made of 48% Merino Wool, 48% polyester and 4% Lycra for shaping and stretch, these are very thin and do not add bulk of restrict your movements under your clothes. Wool naturally wicks moisture and resists odor. The wide waist banded pants are also quite comfortable to wear under hard shell ski and snowboarding pants or bibs. See the entire line at

Waistband detail on Super.Natural base layer pants
Mid and Top Layers
A lot depends on the outdoor temperature and your level of activity when choosing your mid-top layers. As I prefer to operate more on the cool side, my base layer is all I would wear under my top layer jersey or thermal cycling jersey like this one below from Giordana with Bib Tights.

Giordana's Silverline Longsleeved Jersey & Bib Tights
Another option is to pick something like SmartWool Midlayers
which offer a bit more "heft" to the fabric. These are made of 100% Merino Wool and are very soft against the skin. I also like their designs with a zippered neck which help regulate your body temperature and keep you from overheating. So your base layer goes on first and then if it's really cold, a mid layer like this before putting on your coat.

Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 Zip T
Top Layers: Your Jacket, Vest or Coat
Once again there are so many ways you can go with this depending on the amount of physical activity you have planned for the day. When hiking, I prefer a vest and gloves which are usually fine enough for 35-40 degrees and above. The vest keeps my core warm without restricting movement in my arms. Gloves and wool socks help keep my extremities warm.

ExOfficio's Storm Logic Vest

I'm also liking the Novara Baker Bike Jacket because the sleeves have a stretch panel in them making it easy to bend at the elbows. It is actually a REI label jacket but really works well on a bike commute or walk in 35-40 degree weather. Read my full review on this jacket HERE. Visit online for the Baker Bike Jacket.

Novara Baker Bike Jacket

Skiing, Snowboarding Snowshoeing Top Layers
If you plan to be out in the snowy elements then you would do well wearing a goose down ski jacket. The second choice would be something like this Jenny ski jacket from Lole. It has a hood which is really important as about 90% of body heat escapes from the head and neck area.

Lole's Ski Jacket & Knit Cap
Wet, Rainy Weather
Some days we are up against the cold AND the wet. If this is you, you'll need to make sure you have a good, thermal waterproof jacket. The Portland Jacket from ShowersPass is amazing for a cold drizzly ride. Has a soft, brushed insulated interior with lots of pockets and zip pits to avoid overheating. Completely waterproof too. This jacket would work well with Giordana's FRC Thermal Bib Tights.

ShowersPass Portland Bicycle Jacket
Warm from the Inside
Our winter expeditions are never quite complete without taking along an insulated container of hot chocolate. It makes a big difference especially when you find yourself getting chilled. It is a very quick way to alleviate frosty feelings. I pack my Kleen Kanteen with hot soup, coffee, cocoa, whatever!

I have a larger Stanley Thermos that holds enough chunky hot stew for two people! Both travel along with us to the slopes and snowy fields.

A thermos of hot soup to keep you warm!

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