Here’s the truth: I just don’t like to be cold. That’s the real deal. I really don’t like to be cold. I will go to great lengths to avoid being any bit of cold. Of course, with my husband and 4 active boys, not going outside for 4 months is really not an option so here are the things that have changed my life from a “run-and-hide-before-he-makes-me-go-out-in-that-frozen-wasteland” kind of girl to an “ok-i-can-do-this-and-I-might-even-enjoy-a-tiny-bit-of-it” girl that follow off Harley’s last post.
1. Stay hydrated. This is very important for all the reasons Harley mentioned. However, you men give very little thought to the consequences of hydration for a girl…especially when out enjoying snow sports. It takes very little for a man to “resolve” the consequences of his consumption of water while for us ladies it means exposing some very sensitive areas not accustomed to exposure to the cold. Unfortunately the importance of hydration cannot be ignored so take a few extra measures to make sure you can still enjoy your time outdoors. If you are a coffee drinker you may want to either tone it down on the morning of an outing or push it earlier so that the effects of caffeine can wear off before you hit the woods. Also, bring a little roll of toilet paper in a zip closure baggie in your pocket or day pack. Keep drinking water as you exercise but do it in small sips. Listen, none of this is backed up by scientific evidence…just personal experience. Men, you get to make sure your girl has a safe place to …well, do what she has to do… You want that girl to keep spending time outside with you? Make it as enjoyable as you can for her!
2. Dress in layers (not cotton)-or I would say “get the right gear!” For most of my life I have gotten by with too big winter wear discarded by my brothers or husband. As cheap as I am I have never been one to spend money on new, cutting edge, fancy pants gear. However, I managed to fall in love with and marry a gear head. Luckily for me he is also a “thrifty Scotsman” so we aren’t breaking the bank. Also luckily for me, early on in our marriage he decided I needed some proper gear. He did a lot of research and spent some money to get me great gear.
How do we define “great gear?” First, it needs to be made from the appropriate materials. People, please don’t wear cotton when it is cold and wet out! I know your sweat pants are comfy around the house but they are not for wearing in the cold. Also, your cute new jeans are out too! Not a good choice. When shopping for outdoor winter wear look for wool or wool blends. If you haven’t checked out modern wool products you really need to. Gone are the days of scratchy, bunchy, thick wool pants and gloves. The new wool clothing is really amazing. Check out brands like Ibex, Stoic and Smartwool. Here’s another little confession of mine: I wear my
The second qualifier for “right gear” is it needs to fit. If gear is too big it won’t trap warm air around your body and you will be always working to warm up the incoming arctic air. If it is too tight you won’t be comfortable but more importantly it can cut off circulation which is one way your body works to warm itself. Also, if gear is too big it gets bunchy and itchy and uncomfortable. Once your brain is distracted from the activity you are doing and onto how your body is uncomfortable, you are more likely to notice the cold and have it become a concern. This goes for boots, mittens, coats and all the base layers of clothing. Making the move from too big hand-me-down clothes to ones that fit has made a huge difference in my willingness to brave the outdoors in winter.
The third qualifier for “great gear” is that you feel like you look good. I know that seems vain and silly but the fact is that the chances of me heading out into the woods feeling like a dumpy dwarf are much lower than if I feel like an ice princess. Even if we probably won’t see people we know, or any people for that matter, I just don’t want to go out feeling like a troll. Girls, we want to look good! Men, we will join you anywhere if we feel like we are killin’ it so get us the good stuff already!
3. Food For Fuel. I like to call this one “permission to Snack a lot!” That’s right, you need to eat! We all know that when we exercise our body is burning calories but we seldom think about the calories burned just trying to warm ourselves in the winter months. Time spent exploring a winter wonderland is no time to be dieting! Your body needs the calories to keep you warm so go ahead and choose some yummy, high calorie treats and allow yourself to indulge. You may not experience feelings of being hungry while out exploring but if you start to feel clumsy, dull, tired or cold you probably need to recharge your internal furnace with some calorie fuel. Keep an eye on your kids too. If they are whining or dragging or falling behind it is probably time for a refueling stop. Make sure to bring snacks they (and you!) are excited about. If you pull out the health-food organic seaweed and chia seed bar you may have a hard time getting them to fuel up.
4. Wear a hat. This one can be tricky since most hats I choose to wear are either all style, no function or plenty of function but if I take them off I look like Medusa. Try to choose a hair style and a hat that will work well together. Remember, we need to look good out there! Also, please note all the other Medusa-headed ladies at the lodge or pizza place who just came in out of the snow and try to feel ok about the look for a bit.
5. Think safety. Ok, mostly I leave this one to my guy. However, should the worst happen and he isn’t able to guide us out of some spot I like to know that he has put a “way-point” on his GPS device that will take me back out of wherever he drags me to. If you are an overbearing control freak you might want your own GPS device but probably one is enough (I do carry a few extra batteries just in case!).
If you follow the first 4 points and have a GPS with you I think you will feel pretty good about getting out and enjoying the winter landscape-at least more than you might have before! Best of luck to you ladies and please, share tips that help you enjoy the outdoors in the cold.