Though winter doesn't technically start for a little while, the weather doesn't tend to accommodate the calendar. You may already have experienced dropping temperatures or your first snowfall, and there's more coming across the country as the season wears on. If you want to maintain your active, outdoor lifestyle, you'll need to bundle up appropriately to stay healthy and safe all winter long.
Once the snow melts and the moisture reaches your skin, you'll have a much more difficult time getting warm again. Your innermost layer needs to work against that and keep you as dry as possible. Look for moisture-wicking materials for both top and bottom, avoiding fabric like cotton that will absorb the moisture instead. Try to find a size that fits you snugly — you've got a couple of layers to go.
The second layer you put on should be thick and warm, insulating your body from the elements. Look for sturdy fabrics and fillers that promise heat, like thermal tops or leggings. Animal fibers keep their former owners warm, so opt for something like a fleece turtleneck or down jacket to get as much cloth as you can between you and the chills.
However, your activity will affect your choice in this insulation layer. You don't want to pick something too bulky if you're planning to hike or move quickly for a sustained amount of time. If you're planning outdoor winter sports, opt for something that's still lightweight and moisture-wicking so you can keep enjoying your time outside even as you get sweaty. Jackets with zippers or mesh sides can be a perfect choice here.
The final layer of protection against the winter weather acts as a shield from wind and water. Synthetic fabrics work well here since they tend to shed water and can still be breathable. Buy the coat and snow pants, if you choose to use them, a size or two higher than your usual choice, since the garment will have to fit around at least two extra layers of cloth.
When you have your three layers on top and bottom, you're almost ready to head out the door. Get a hat that shields your head against the wind. If you're going into the extreme cold, look for a facemask or scarf to protect your skin and lungs from the cold air. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from reflected UV rays, and if any part of your face will show, don't forget the sunscreen.
Make sure you grab a layer or two of moisture-wicking socks (can you see how important it is to stay dry?) and water-resistant shoes to protect your feet. Get a pair of gloves that keep your hands warm and cozy, and keep an eye out for touch-screen compatibility so you can use your phone if necessary.
If you plan to exercise outside or participate in winter sports, the rules of layering still apply, but you'll have to keep track of them differently than if you were only outside for a few minutes. You'll sweat and get warm like usual as you work out, so remove layers as soon as you start to feel warm and make sure your layers are still lightweight enough to let you get the exercise you seek.
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