Welcome to January: the heart of winter is among us! January is known as the coldest month of the year, and as we experience several arctic blasts this month, temperatures will dip well below zero. It is important to continue to wear appropriate clothing and to bring correct gear out into the woods with you. Factors such as wind chill, temperature, snow, and moisture can cause serious problems like frostbite or hypothermia.
When the temperature drops below zero, frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes on exposed skin, especially when wind is involved. Here are some helpful ideas of what to wear when entering the woods in winter:
For Your Core
- Insulated or wool pants/liners on both legs and torso
- Cotton is not recommended in the winter as it does not hold heat like wool and has the tendency to hold moisture. Cotton is a good summer choice and can help keep you cool.
- Wool holds roughly 80% of its heat even when wet and there are now options of wool that aren’t so itchy on the skin.
- If cotton is your only option, it is recommended to wear a water-wicking layer over them such as rain pants or snow pants.
- A good winter jacket that is also water wicking
- Wear a good winter hat that keeps in heat and wicks moisture away.
- A face covering, buff, or dickie is helpful to protect your face from frostbite and wind.
- Wool socks or thick socks keep your feet warm.
- Winter boots that are both waterproof and insulated are best.
- Mittens that are rated for sub-zero temperatures and a liner under them to provide extra warmth both in the mitten and outside of it are ideal.
- Choose for thick gloves made of synthetic or leather materials.
- Bring extra layers. You can always add more layers or use them to change out of wet clothes.
- Dress according to weather
- Over-dressing can lead to sweating, which will make you feel colder when you stop moving and cause your clothes to become wet.
- A properly dressed person = a comfortable and happy person = a productive person.
Items To Keep With You While In The Field
- Even though it is not hot out and you aren’t sweating, you still need water throughout the day. Dehydration can sneak up on you in winter and make you feel sluggish and confused.
- Food is very important this time of year as you are burning more calories than normal to keep your body warm. If you are experiencing a sluggish feeling or cannot warm up, it may mean you need more calories.
- Wear or pack extra gloves, socks, and layers.
- Portable charger
- Most batteries die faster in the cold, so it important to have a charger with you in case an emergency occurs and for communication.
- Believe it or not, you should wear sunscreen on exposed skin in winter. As the days start to become longer, the sun’s rays will start to increase, and when the light hits the snow, it is reflected upward. This means that you are getting hit by the suns rays from 2 angles and can easily cause sunburn.
- Sunglasses are important to protect your eyes and can help keep wind off your face.
Enjoy the fun that January can bring, and remember to be prepared when going out into the snowy forest. The cold and snow can be enjoyable when you are properly dressed and prepared!
-Nate Loeffler, Forester