Heads, shoulders, knees and toes… Wrap up, winter is here!
With the arrival of December, we are pleased to announce that the festive activities can begin, so … Merry Christmas, chaps! And that means winter walking is well and truly on the agenda. Ah, those glistening mornings where the whole world seems frozen; swathes of grass have crystallised overnight and almost call out to you to come and test the icy crunch underfoot.
And then, one morning it actually snows! Pull your boots on, get the ski-jackets out from the back of the wardrobe and where did you put the sled last year… Hmm, the bin lid may have to do for now.
Wow, this is all we’ve been waiting for since the winter first hinted it was on its way.
So, come on, step outside with us, we’ll wrap you up from head to toe in the very best winter kit so that you can enjoy this very magical time of year and still be warm!
There is a common and widely accepted statistic that says we lose up to 80% of our body heat from our heads.
This isn’t true. It’s actually only 10% … and that might turn out to be a myth too. But 10% is still quite a lot, and even if it’s not true, we feel warmer with a hat on.
For a truly versatile garment that will keep heads, faces and necks warm, check out Buff. You can wear your Buff in up to 13 different ways to keep your head insulated in cold weather!*
That’s a lot of ways to keep warm. They also have a great range of classic beanies which are always a winner.
We never think about sunglasses in winter, usually because it’s overcast and gloomy in the UK. However, we do have some stunning days of clear skies when the winter sun can be almost blinding! Make sure you keep those peepers protected with a pair of sunnies.
And if you’re spending winter in snowy, alpine regions… take care. UV radiation increases by 5% for every 1000m above sea level, so we highly recommend getting a pair of Oakley sunglasses for ultimate UV filtering. Try the Radarlock model for 100% protection from UVA, UVB and UVC.
Earmuffs are cool, okay? Cooler than freezing cold, red ears.
Barts has your ears covered, literally.
The cold tends to dry our lips out, especially going from the cold air and back indoors into the warmth. We also forget that our lips are particularly sensitive to UV, even the weak December rays, and can easily get burnt. Make sure to keep this sensitive part protected in the cold weather with Lifesystems Active Lipsalve. With SPF20, this is a brilliant product to hold on to for use all-year-round.
We admit scarves they can be really annoying when they are flapping around or get caught on fences or in doors (come on, we’ve all been there). We like this Infinity Scarf from Craghoppers which has managed to find a way around this issue.
Red and raw fingers are not the best look. Gloves are the most obvious solution to this issue, but we fully appreciate that they hinder our dexterity.
Most annoyingly, perhaps, is that we can’t use our bloomin’ phones, and we all want to be taking photos on a snow day!
Thank goodness for The North Face e-tip gloves which allow full touchscreen use whilst keeping fingers toasty.
Top Base Layer
If we have one piece of advice for you about keeping your trunk warm in winter, it’s to wear a thermal. Yes, we do admit they can make us look a few sizes chubbier than we are, but hey, it’s winter, and maybe we actually are a size bigger and could use the excuse of a thermal… Hmm… Anyway. Get one. Or two, or three. The Ronhill base layers for men and women are brilliant for outdoor activity and streamlined so don’t feel uncomfortable under clothes.
A jumper is perhaps at its greatest when we can snuggle into it whilst curled up on the sofa, ideally by a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate in hand and reading a book… or watching TV, we’re not fussy. And we’re not fussy when it comes to the jumper either – fleeces, knits, sweaters – we’ll just take them all.
And yeah, they are pretty useful for being outdoors where we actually need the extra warmth…
Try Jack Wolfskin for thinner fleeces that are easy to layer over a thermal and under a coat. We just love the Zero Waste styles for men and women. Not only do they lock in the warmth, they are made from 100% recycled microfibre – a big thumbs up from the TOG team!
Jackets and Coats
Finding the right winter coat can be a seemingly endless pursuit. There are SO many options, all of which have their own USP. We would recommend heading over to the experts at your nearest Cotswold Outdoor who can give you the lowdown on what coat is best for you this winter. In the meantime, you can read about different types of insulation here, or browse Cotswold’s Top 5 Recommendations for men and women’s insulated jackets.
Legs are usually the last thing we consider when it comes to winter dressing. We worry more about keeping our top half and extremities warm, so legs go by the wayside a little. We don’t know about you, but cold legs seem to go unnoticed when our nose feels like it’s about to fall off.
We recommend using base layers for your bottom half too, especially if you’re going hiking in cold weather, or are an active winter sportsperson. We must admit we are suckers for Rab’s Power Stretch Pants. They use a Polartec fabric blend with a tough nylon outer layer and a cosy fleece inside. We’ll happily hang around in these on a cold winter’s day. Versions for men and women are available from Cotswold Outdoor.
Socks, glorious socks! The Christmas present no one wants, everyone gets, and everyone actually ends up using (unlike the spiraliser you asked your Nan for last year and is still sitting in its box). Well, why not specify the pair you really want this time?
Here are some tips for choosing winter socks:
1. Don’t buy cotton
Cotton in winter = cold, wet feet (gross). This material has low insulation ability, and once your tootsies have sweated in your boots, that cotton sock is only going to hang on to all the moisture. Delightful.
2. Do remember a sock liner
Wearing a sock liner will transfer any perspiration directly to the sock, keeping your feet dry and therefore warm.
3. Go natural
Nature has given us materials that naturally retain insulating properties when there is moisture present. Wow, you might think, how did Nature come up with that? (Think of sheep… on a mountain… in the rain). Choose wool or shearling.
Our favourites? SmartWool. Literally what it says on the tin – smart, wool. These socks use Merino wool which is a brilliant, natural material for temperature regulation and odour control. Moisture and bacteria repellent, you can count on these for warm, dry and fresh smelling toes at the end of a day of winter walking.
There are loads of styles to choose from, but we especially love the Hike Medium Crew socks for their cushioning and support.
So, now you’ve read this, if you follow the advice, we’ll be very surprised if you feel even the slightest chill this winter. And if you do, you can blame us. We hope we’ve given you some good tips for keeping warm and some pointers to the best products around. Have a wonderful time walking this winter and make sure to stay warm!
For ideas on where to walk this winter, click here.