When life hands you snowflakes, you have a choice. Growing up in New England, I have seen my fair share of snow. But living in Wisconsin takes snow to a whole new level.
I was chatting with my dad today like I do every afternoon and asked about the trees in Connecticut. They are turning but there are still some holding onto green leaves. Here in northwestern Wisconsin, they are bare.
Shortly after the bare trees comes the cold wind from Canada and then of course the snow.
When I first moved here, the extreme temperatures were quite a bit of a shock - especially when the temps were below zero and dropping. Over time, I've learned that with the right clothing and the right attitude, you can continue to enjoy the great outdoors all season long.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors all-year round, it's important to acclimate to the dipping (or rising) temperatures so that you can feel right at home in our varying midwestern temps.
So, when the snow started falling today, I put a hat on and hit my favorite trails in the woods for a quick trek through our local trails. Over time, I've acquired a few preferences for the kind of apparel that make outdoor adventures in the winter comfortable and safe. Here are my go-tos:
A good hat. What makes a hat good? First, it should fit your head. You don't want to keep pulling it down because it's too tight or off of your eyes because it's too big. And second, make it warm. A lined hat can help keep the heat in when the wind kicks up.
Something to cover your ears. Even with a good hat, sometimes the wind can get in there and make your ears cold and that can be uncomfortable. I have both a headband that I will wear under my hat and earmuffs that I will wear over my hat. Find what works best for you.
A scarf or a balaclava. Traditional Chinese medicine says that colds enter our bodies through the winds on our back. And I'll tell ya, keeping the back of your neck covered just makes things that much more comfortable. Both scarves and balaclavas can also cover your face for those really cold days.
Light layers to keep the heat in. Think long underwear. With all of the options that are out there today, it's easy to find a nice thin pair of pants and long-sleeved shirt to wear under other layers to keep the heat in.
The right gloves. I actually have a few pair of gloves and mittens that I use for different things depending on the temps out there. I have my dog walking gloves, my snowball making gloves and my ice-fishing gloves. And then I have the, "These look cute with my jacket," gloves.
Pants and jackets that keep the wind out. The wind can make you cold when it flows up your coat, through your zipper or on your legs. Look for materials that can block the wind to stay extra warm.
Wool anything! I've come to love wool as a favorite fabric for retaining heat. I often wear a wool or wool blend sweater with a lighter layer underneath. And my absolute FAVORITE thing are wool socks from the Darn Tough company out of Vermont. Who can do anything but love socks that are guaranteed for life?
Good boots. Being active in the outdoors means boots that provide both warmth and flexibility so that you can continue to walk, hike, or snowshoe. Consider them an investment that will allow for you to maintain outdoor activity all winter long.
Traction control. I have both Yak-trak which are great for everyday walking around the neighborhood and more aggressive micro-spikes which grip the ice like no one's biz.
In addition to these basics, I've added a few things over the years. Snowshoes make hiking in the winter more enjoyable by dispersing your weight more evenly over the snow. This means less sinking and easier movement. Cross-country skis are another fun winter item to own but I find that it's more fun to do that with someone else.
What are some of your winter must-haves to stay active when the snow starts to blow?