Growing up in the Yukon I got to spend a LOT of time outside while it was cold. There is no such thing as a snow day in Whitehorse...Only because it gets sooo cold it can’t snow. here we get snow days because it’s unsafe for vehicles to drive. but that’s no excuse to not play outside... and so no matter what the weather was, we always had to be prepared to spend time outside.
A mantra that my dad passed on to me when I was young, and something that I want to share with everyone, especially those interested in our programs is that
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!” ...YESS! It’s a great mantra.
And I will speak from personal experience and say that it is 100% true... I agree, if you’re prepared anything is possible. From giving a presentation, to making dinner to playing outside. If you’re prepared it will make things a lot more fun.
I definitely had some years where I was “too cool” to dress warm. I wouldn’t wear a toque because it would mess up my hair, I wouldn’t wear boots because all of my friends were wearing running shoes, and I never had the common sense to even think about wearing base layers under my clothing….And to think a kid from the Yukon had to be reminded by a kid from Ontario that it’s ok to dress warm. silly Janna. I’m glad you grew out of that stage…. Do you think I enjoyed being outside in the cold dressed like that? No way! I hated it. So I wouldn’t spend much time outside.
I fear that something this simple, how to dress properly, is a major barrier that prevents people from going outside and enjoying it. I have seen it so many times before, running outdoor camps and teaching outdoor education in schools, that people will have the opportunity to participate in an amazing outdoor experience, but they hate every second of it because all they can think about is how cold they are... or wet, or hot.
So my mission today is to share a few of our tried, tested and true tips for dressing properly to be outside. I (Janna) am writing this first (as I always do with our blog), and so I will be interested to see what Alycia adds, or doesn’t need to add, to the list that I create...Well I hope you didn’t miss anything.. We are outdoor experts after all.
When you are preparing to go outside for an activity, whether it be only for a couple hours or all day long, it is important to remember the following:
Layers! Layers, layers, layers! ….And layers and layers !!... Start from your skin and work your way out. Think about what will happen if you get hot while doing activity. You want to have a layer to take off without it taking off all of your warm clothing. For example if you go outside with just a winter jacket and a t-shirt on, then if you are too hot in your jacket, you’re just left with a t-shirt.
The most important part about the layer closest to your skin (also referred to as your base layer) is its ability to wick moisture. There are a lot of phenomenal synthetic products that can do this, such as polypropylene. Wool is also really great. Cotton is BAD! No cotton!... Well cotton isn't bad but it's bad when it comes to the outdoors. It's super comfy when you're sitting at home watching movies on a lazy Sunday….Especially when it is in direct contact with your skin. So do not wear cotton t-shirts, sweat pants, or cotton socks as your first layer.
The majority of the heat from your body is regulated from your head! So use your head (literally and figuratively) to adjust your temperature levels. Too cold? Put on a toque, buff or headband. Too hot? Take off some of your other layers but keep your head covered.
Your body is hardwired to protect what is most important, and that is your core. Logically that makes sense. Your body would way rather protect your lungs, heart, and other internal organs than it would your measly fingers or toes. Therefore, when you are not producing enough heat your body directs blood (and thus heat) away from your extremities and towards your core. What’s the first thing that usually gets cold outside? Fingers and toes. How do we fix that? Make sure your core is warm... Oh and wearing mitts and boots are a good idea too... You can do this by wearing a base layer, having one or two nice mid layers, and then making sure your outer layer has some protection against wind and water. Don’t forget about your head either. If you focus on your core, the extremities will also stay warm.
Footwear is very important. I think an essential component of good footwear is keeping your feet dry. Insulation is also important and a good rubber sole. If you are standing on snow, ice or cold ground all day, you don’t want your feet getting cold from the bottom up... But if you don't have great footwear I hear garbage bags are really great replacements :) seriously.
We definitely have more tips and advice, especially activity specific advice (skiing vs skating vs snowshoeing vs tobogganing) but by following the suggestions above you will have a good start on making your experiences outdoors way more enjoyable.
Our hope is that you can then spend your time enjoying the activity you are doing, and loving every second of it, as opposed to wishing it was over so you could go warm up…. At the very least you'll hate what you're doing but you'll be warm :)
So now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of what to wear, you should probably come test the advice for yourself ...or test us and see how smart we are about dressing for the outdoors... and do some of those fun activities we are speaking of with us here at GO Adventure Co.
We love playing outside, regardless of the weather, because “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!” ….And bad attitude ;)
Ps. Janna nailed that one! No added info from this kid! High five Words.