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January 30, 2014 Comments (2) Gear Reviews, Training

Guide to Winter Layering

By Jennilyn Eaton

Dressing appropriately for winter is often similar to doing a science experiment blind. Factors such as wind, temperature, trail conditions, sunlight, sweat-rate, and length of run all play a part into what to choose for dressing. Understanding a few key layers, and when to use them, will help you stay warm this winter.

Base Layer: It all starts here. A good base layer will both transfer moisture quickly and ventilate heat. While thick base layers may seem like a good idea, during endurance aerobic activities these layers can encourage sweating and trap (cold) sweat against the skin. An ideal base layer for running is a thin, moisture wicking layer to keep the skin dry and warm. The base-layer needs to fit snug as a “second skin” for it to wick properly. Base layer tights with shorts on top are great for warmer winter (25-35F) temperatures.  Author’s Essential: silk base layers

Mid-weight Layer: This is often the “go-to” layer for warmer winter days. A thicker and warmer version of the base layer, this layer can often be worn with a tee over it on a sunny winter day or under a wind jacket during most cool-weather temps. For runners who are often cold during their runs, a mid-weight layer can be worn over the base layer. Author’s Essential: Terramar Hottotties 3.0

Tights: Compression and other spandex-based tights are great for warmer winter temps (20-40F) but are too thin for colder temps. Thicker tights, featuring fleece, wool, or wind-resistant fabric are options for colder (below 15F) temps. Layer tights with a base or mid-weight layer when the temps drop below 0F. Author’s Essential: Wool tights

Still a lot to see in the winter!

Still a lot to see in the winter!

Outer Layer: A light-weight wind jacket is great for breezy winter runs, but can become problematic on runs longer than 3 hours, since the condensation these jackets retain can freeze. A grid fleece offers great ventilation, as do jackets with a wind-proof core panel and ventilation fabric on the sides and arms. Wind-resistant fleece hoodies are also a great outer option for longer, potentially breezy runs. A simple waterproof vest can be paired with any outer layer for snowy days. The vest will keep the core warm and keep the most important parts of the body dry without compromising proper ventilation. Author’s Essential: Wind-proof core fabric jacket

Dress for the weather - mid run break in a warming hut. Snowbird, UT.

Dress for the weather – mid run break in a warming hut. Snowbird, UT.

Hands & Feet: Wools socks are a great for keeping wet feet warm, but preventing wet feet is even better. Pair waterproof gators with waterproof winter shoes as a preventative solution for winter. If investing in waterproof running shoes is not an option, regular gators and thick wool socks should keep your feet toasty. For your hands, a thin glove with a wind-and-water resistant mitten on top allows you to keep dexterity, warmth, and still use hand warmers as necessary. Author’s Essential: Wool ski socks

Taking a break in the snow

Taking a break in the snow

Head: Hair length greatly influences beanie type. Bald men often prefer a wind-resistant layer, and men in general can utilize thicker winter hats. Women with longer hair will find these too sweaty and hot, and may prefer beanies with vents. Headbands designed to cover the ears are also an option for those with hair. A balaclava, or a Buff, are also a necessity for bitter cold (below 5F) winter days. Author’s Essential: Buff Headwear

Keeping the head and face warm!

Keeping the head and face warm!

2 Responses to Guide to Winter Layering

  1. Kevin says:

    nice guidelines! I need to look into the new tech fleeces out there. my down jacket works great for my walks, but i over heat if i run at all. During the first “polar vortex” here in iowa, i wore my cabelas dry-plus coat over the down because of the wind. worked great, until i started sweating.

    Also, i’m almost never without my buff, summer or winter — who knew that thin little piece of fabric could do so much? =)

  2. […] 3. Guide for winter layering […]

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