The 5 Rules Of Staying Warm

Be it winter or even summer, it can get surprisingly chilly in the outdoors without four walls around you! We’ve consolidated the 5 most important commandments to staying warm, co-written by the folks at WeatherBug!

Rule #1: know what to expect

A knit sweater may be great for a brisk day but absolutely terrible if it’s raining! Depending on where you are going, you can face a range of temperatures and weather conditions—so be sure to plan accordingly and check the weather (our co-authors at WeatherBug have an app for that! (Google Play store, or Google Play store)!

Rule #2: layer

It can be tempting to save yourself time by just bringing one multi-purpose coat. But what if that coat gets wet and you have nothing else that’s dry? Layering is the key to staying comfortable while being fully adaptable to whatever weather conditions may bring. It’s especially critical if you’re going to alternate from being active to being still. When you’re active, it’s important to shed layers (even if it doesn’t initially feel like a good idea) so that you don’t overheat and sweat (See rule #3). Check out our ultimate guide on outdoor clothing for more detailed information on how layer keepings you warm, and examples of what to layer with.

Rule #3: stay dry

It’s a no-brainer that getting wet means getting chilly. For this reason, you’ll want to shed layers when starting physical activity to minimize sweating, and while you’re at it, wear layers that are moisture-wicking as much as possible. Fortunately, fabric technology means we can stay dry in a wide variety of climates, and it’s why we rent outer layers for snowsports!

Rule #4: mind your extremities

Your hands, feet, and head are the regions of the body that are most sensitive to cold, and most likely to get cold since your body will try to focus blood circulation and warmth on the core. That’s why perceptually speaking, a nice pair of gloves, a thick pair of socks, and a beanie will feel like they’ve made much more of a difference in keeping you warm than another jacket layer.

Rule #5: fuel your fire

Keep yourself warm by eating more, and eating high-fat foods (fat burns slowly), and never neglect a meal (it’s worth the effort to stop moving and eat!). For that matter, also be sure to hydrate. It’s easy to confuse “I’m cold” with “I’m not thirsty”, but people do get dehydrated in the winter.

And that’s it! But in case you’re now fired up for more, here’s a good list of other tips that will help (or good trivia info!):

  • Tuck-in! Don’t forget to tuck your shirt in, and even your pants into your socks and your gloves into your jacket!
  • Bring extra clothes. If weight isn’t an issue
  • Don’t drink alcohol. Sorry for the spiked holiday beverage fanatics, but alcohol lowers your body temperature
  • Don’t touch cold things so you don’t lose body heat via conduction. Always try to keep a layer between you and something cold. For example, if you brought a backpack, sit on it instead of on the cold ground or on cold stone
  • Remember that mittens keep you warmer than fingered gloves (because it allows your fingers to touch each other)
  • Insulate creatively! Keeping warm means trapping body heat, that’s all clothing does (unless it’s like an electric blanket, no clothing actually produces its own heat). If you’re in a pinch, think creatively about what can help trap body heat, back in the day, folks stuffed newspaper or even dry leaves into their jackets!

For tips specific to camping and awesome places to go in the winter, read our guide on winter camping. Have a great time out in the snow!

Thoughts, ideas, questions? Let us know in the comments below! We're Last Minute Gear, the only outdoor gear shop where you can buy, rent, or borrow gear!