Winter Sports Tips

Dressing for the Outdoors

Outdoor enthusiasts have long recognized that multiple layers of clothing keep them warm in winter and from overheating in summer. Adding or removing garments is a practical way to adapt quickly to different activity levels and temperature changes during your time outside.

Many winter campers wear a system of underwear, a midlayer of polyester fleece (pants and top), followed by a windproof, water-resistant outer layer (windpants with full zips down the side for easy on/off and a high-performance wind shell with zippers under the arms for ventilation during active sports).

Underwear

While cotton was once the mainstay of long underwear and cold-weather clothing, it is no longer recommended for strenuous winter activities because it soaks up moisture. Damp clothes are heavier and, if next to your skin, can pose a chilling hazard.

Modern performance underwear, made from polyester or polypropylene, is most effective in moving moisture away from your skin and into outer layers of clothing where it can evaporate.

In addition to traditional shirts and "long johns," many other garments, including short-sleeve tops, bras, boxer shorts and briefs, are now made with polyester fabrics to wick away chilling perspiration.

Midlayer

If you are performing an active sport such as skiing, or hiking in spring or fall, a polyester fabric, such as fleece, is an ideal second layer over your long underwear. It continues to trap your body warmth while wicking away moisture. Even in warmer seasons, a midlayer is useful to have handy in your pack for those times you begin to chill (particularly during rest stops.)

Outerwear

Depending on weather conditions, you may want to wear wind-resistant, water-resistant pants and an anorak over your other clothes. How many layers you need depends on your level of exertion, personal preference and weather conditions.

Rainwear

Be prepared for severe weather. Carry a waterproof rain jacket and pants or a poncho with you, even if the forecast is for sunshine.

Hat

Up to 50% of your body heat can be lost through your neck and head. Carry a hat with you for added warmth or protection from the sun.

For overnight trips, carry a lightweight polypropylene hat. It stores compactly in your pack pocket and doubles nicely as a comfortable sleeping hat in cool weather.

Winter campers often carry a hat system consisting of a lightweight polypropylene liner and a nylon shell to adjust to changing winter temperatures.

Socks

For maximum comfort and blister prevention, many hikers wear two layers of socks, a thin polyester sock liner with a thicker outer sock. On overnight or extended trips, be sure to carry enough socks to be able to change into a fresh set each day.

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Basic Snowshoeing Tips

Snowshoeing is quickly gaining popularity because today's equipment is lighter, more streamlined and just about anyone can do it and it's great exercise. You can quickly get your heart rate up to aerobic levels in a very short time. Here are a few general tips to help you get the most from snowshoeing in fields around your home, at your local touring center or golf course (with permission from the owner) and for other casual outings.

  1. Generally, a person's size and weight dictates the surface area, or size of the snowshoe that is best for them. But if you plan to carry a heavy day pack or a child on your back, you'll need a larger snowshoe. When choosing snowshoes, let the types of activities and the areas you see yourself snowshoeing in most help direct you to the right model.
  2. Even on casual outings, layering your clothing and regulating your warmth are critical to comfort. When snowshoeing, your body will heat up quickly, so carry a fanny pack or day pack and be prepared to take layers off as you go. When you stop for even a short break, you may want to throw a shell or fleece jacket back on to prevent a chill.
  3. Carry a widemouth bottle of water that is insulated against freezing. If it's not insulated, carry it upside down (if it freezes the ice will be in the bottom of the container so you can still get the water out). Also important are extra clothing and power snacks. Don't forget sunscreen, polarized sunglasses and (if you're any farther than your backyard) a small first-aid kit in your pack.
  4. Begin snowshoeing on flat areas prior to tackling steep terrain or heading onto more remote trails. This will give your muscles a chance to stretch and loosen up before your require more from them.
  5. Using ski poles can really help with balance and they reduce the impact to your knees and ankles (poles are also helpful when getting up from a spill).
  6. Tell friends, family or park officials where you are going and when you plan to return. If you were to have an equipment failure or some other emergency arises, it's nice to know someone knows where you are and where to look for you if you're late coming home.

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