The season of chapped lips and cold toes is among us, my friends. This doesn’t mean we have to set our adventurous ambitions on the shelf until next year! Cabin fever is all too real. We all need a way to get outside during the harsh, winter months. The good news is that it all comes down to having the right gear. Whether you’re looking to go on a winter hike, zoom through the trees on a snowmobile, take on the ski hill, or simply just step out to get some fresh air, you’ll want reliable gear to keep you warm.
Typically winter gear is broken down into three main categories: base layers, mid layers, and shell layers. If you use these layers correctly, you’ll become a master of winter! In addition, you’ll need some good boots and gloves, so I’ll show you my favorites!
Real quick before we get to the good stuff, I wanted to let everyone know there are affiliate links throughout this post that generate a small commission for each purchase. These purchases are what help me try out new gear and create content that (I hope) will inspire you to get outdoors. If any of these items sound like what you are looking for, I would appreciate if you followed the links here to add it to your collection. Thank you!
1. Base Layers and Wool socks!
For starters, ALWAYS WEAR YOUR WOOLIES! Wool socks are imperative for cold weather! I wear mine almost every day during the winter, even if I’m just relaxing around the house in my slippers. Naturally, my feet get cold first so if I don’t have a reliable sock when trekking through cold weather and snow, my adventure might already be compromised. I just picked up a few pairs of Columbia Wool Socks and my feet have been very warm, dry, and happy. And of course, you can never go wrong with a pair of Smartwool (Women’s) / Smartwool (Men’s).
A base layer is the layer of clothing nearest to your skin. Your base layer is truly the unsung hero of a warm and happy winter adventure since it is responsible for wicking sweat and moisture as well as trapping body heat. This is why you need to avoid cotton at all costs and instead rely on synthetic fibers or wool. Here is my top pick for a reliable base layer.
- Under Armour Cold Gear
Great moisture wicking capability mixed with UA’s Cold Gear© Technology is a no-brainer for a winter base layer.
For men, I recommend the Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Tactical Fitted Mock for a top and the matching Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Compression Leggings to complete the set. I pick a compression bottom because I hate having loose layers at the bottom for my legs, but I do choose a fitted option for the top because it is a little bit more comfortable than wearing a compression fit for hours. If a compression top is your favored option, check out the Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Compression Mock.
For ladies, try the Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Mock for your top and the Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Leggings for your bottoms! These are basically identical to the men’s options above, just cut for women!
The primary objective of your mid layer is insulation! Different weather conditions will call for more or less insulation. Let’s talk about some cozy mid-layer options.
For a great fleece jacket, check out the Columbia Men’s MountainSide Fleece and the Columbia MountainSide Women’s Fleece. I LOVE COLUMBIA PRODUCTS! This item is no exception to my love affair with the company. The Mountain Side fleece is thin yet warm, allowing it to fit comfortably over your base layer and even your favorite wool sweater (Wool is a great insulator too. Check out Goodwill for the best wool sweaters on a budget). This fleece comes in a bunch of color combinations as well, so when you peel off your jacket you’ll still be the best-dressed adventurer in the room.
Vests are also a great option! A good vest is easy to layer and gives you more mobility in your arms if you are going to be active. Personally, I don’t like an overly poofy vest so my personal favorite is a little thinner. Check out the Columbia Powder Lite Vest (Women) and the Columbia Powder Lite Vest (Men). The OmniHeat© technology in Columbia’s jackets and vests is unbeatable in its ability to utilize your body’s natural heat to keep you warm.
For something a little thicker, you might want to look for a jacket with down or synthetic insulation. The best jacket I own for this is the Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket. It’s a synthetic insulation jacket that performs well as an insulating layer or even as a soft shell layer on a nice day! The fabric stretches with you, offering a comfortable fit even when climbing, running, hiking, or any adventure in between.
3. Shell Layer
The final and most visible piece of your winter ensemble. The goal of this layer is to create a weatherproof yet breathable layer on top of everything else you have on. Remember that wet clothing can ruin a winter adventure, so a reliable shell can make or break your plans! Here are a few of my favorite options.
For the last two years, my winter shell layer has been the Columbia Men’s Alpine Action Jacket and I honestly can’t say a bad thing about it yet. It’s exactly what I was looking for in a winter coat: not overly heavy, weatherproof, comfy, and it looks pretty sharp too! I love the big hood, plethora of pockets, and the snow skirt which stops snow or moisture from penetrating to your other layers, even if you take a spill down a hill or a well-timed snowball to the chest. It’s also a great option for early spring or late fall days where a cold rain is looking to ruin your adventures. Versatile and reliable, just how I like my coats.
Ladies, here is the same coat for you: Women’s Columbia Alpine Action Jacket
If you are looking for the best of the best, then look at the Arc’Teryx Men’s Beta AR Jacket and Arc’teryx Women’s Beta AR Jacket. Made with the hardcore weatherproof material Gore-tex and with features like reinforced shoulders, this is a jacket handcrafted for the outdoor adventure enthusiast. The price tag on this jacket is higher than most, but you get what you pay for.
You’ll also want a good pair of snow pants to throw on if you’re going to be outside for any period of time. When I was shopping for mine, I wanted to find a pair that was durable enough to work and play in, but also warm and comfy. My go-to winter pants are from Duluth Trading Company and are called Men’s Alaskan Hardgear Snowcat pants. They are tough and can be worn with another pair of pants. For women, check out a similar product from Columbia called Columbia Women’s Bugaboo Pant.
4. Boots, Gloves, and Mittens
Waterproof and warm. These boots broke in easily and have been my go-to winter boots for 2 years. These boots have 200g of insulation which has been great for me. If your feet tend to get cold, make sure to wear the wool socks we talked about earlier!
These gloves are thin and can also be used as a glove liner for your mittens! Most gloves feel bulky and cut back on what you can do, but these gloves allow more mobility. I prefer these gloves on days when it’s not extremely cold or when I am doing work outside that requires more dexterity. They also have touchscreen safe fingers so you can still send epic snapchats or add to your Instagram story from your winter escape!
When it gets really cold, I always break out my mittens! I rely on these North Face mittens while doing anything in the harsh wind or cold, such as snowmobiling or a long walk through the woods. They would also be great for skiing and snowboarding since they have a strap to keep them on your hands! I like the straps when I take my mittens on and off. You never have to stuff them into your pockets that way!
Now that you have all the tools you need, go out and enjoy a crisp winter day! I’m the first to admit I am not a huge fan of winter but allowing “cabin fever” to dominate my mindset is not an option. Layer up, load your backpack with snacks and water (dehydration can sneak up on you when its cold!), and set off on your adventure! Let me know if you need some ideas.
Much love homies! If you have any questions on any of these products, or you are looking for something more specific, drop me a line and I can help you out!