If you live in a cold-weather state, it can be tempting to curl up in the house all winter and hibernate until spring.
But you don’t have to let the snow and cold (within reason) keep you cooped up or derail your fitness goals. With the right athletic gear, you can enjoy many sports year-round, plus a bunch of others that are winter-only.
No matter which sport you choose, there are a few things to remember before braving the cold:
- Keep dry as well as warm
- Wear layers
- Take care of your extremities
- Be sure-footed
Here are some tips to help you choose your gear:
These are the clothes in direct contact with your skin. Your primary goal when choosing a base layer is keeping your skin dry. You’ll want fabrics that wick moisture from your skin, often synthetic-based and fitted, such as long-sleeve T-shirts and tights. Your base layer can be heavier or lighter depending on how cold the weather is.
The middle layer is where you get your insulation. You’re looking for warmth, plus something that will stay dry. A quality waffle-weave shirt can offer the best of both worlds, and possibly function as both a base and middle layer. Merino wool—lightweight, soft, and moisture-wicking—can be a great option.
Your outer layer needs to keep you dry and protect you from the wind. Nylon and Gore-Tex® provide that while still being lightweight and breathable. If you’re in a really cold climate, you may want an outer shell with a fleece lining. Also, look for a shell with reflective details to make sure you stay visible.
Because your extremities get colder faster than your core, gloves will be among the first pieces of gear you’ll need when the temperature starts to drop. Again, water resistance is key, and fleece lining can make sure you stay warm. If you find gloves made from conductive material, you can still control your devices. When it gets really cold, you may opt for “lobster” gloves, which will keep your fingers extra warm, and reusable hand warmers.
Socks and shoes
Your feet, like your hands, need extra care during outdoor winter workouts. Look for merino wool socks that are soft and warm. Your shoes should be water repellant and offer extra traction. If it’s slippery out, or even if it’s not, you might consider microspikes. They fit right over your shoes and help prevent slipping.
Hats and buffs
If you’re going to be out in the cold for an extended period of time, protecting your head and face is a must. Look for a hat or balaclava that fits well without being tight or restrictive. Wool and cashmere are good fabric choices. A buff or multifunctional headband can be a lifesaver, as you can use it to protect your face, neck, or ears. Make sure you opt for something that retains its shape.
It can be really easy to forget, but your eyes need protection too, especially when it’s windy and snowy. Look for a pair of quality sunglasses, preferably adjustable so you have the right fit.
Once you’ve got the right gear to help protect you from the elements, get out there and enjoy winter!
©2020 Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation. All rights reserved. JO16565 34839-100-2002