Outdoor workouts in the colder fall and winter months can be invigorating and offer refreshingly new settings and conditions. The colder temperatures and added rain or even snow can make for challenges, put a damper on a workout, or even post risks of injury. Having the right kind of winter fitness clothing can go a long way in increasing your comfort and keeping you in the game. Layering allows you to customize your comfort according to the changing conditions as well as your body temperatures.
- Inner Layers: Cotton, while it is breathable and soft is usually one of the worst choices for cold and wet conditions. It doesn’t wick moisture away from your body and the moment you slow down or stop, you begin to chill. Cotton also traps sweat and can impede proper cooling of your body. The same issue occurs with cotton socks. However the result of trapped moisture usually is blisters in addition to the cold. Look instead for moisture wicking fabrics especially for the layers close to or immediately next to your skin. On the label, look for technical or performance fabrics such as polyester and Lycra. Smart wool or merino wool are great options for the colder regions. The “no cotton” rule applies to your undergarments as well, so check those before you head out into the elements.
- For insulation or middle layers, fleece is one of the best materials on the active-wear market. Consider your activity as well as duration and make sure to pack along options for layering and removing layers as your activity level and body temperature changes. If you are running, make sure to keep an additional dry top to quickly change into in your car when your run ends. Natural fibers such as down and wool make wonderful insulation layers. The only drawback is they lose insulation factors as they get wet, so using these with an outer shell or on days when you know for sure there is no chance of encountering wet conditions is advised. Fleece options range from light weight such as Polartec 100 to heavier and wind resistance such as Polartec WindPro and Gore WindStopper.
- Outer-Shell Layer: This one is for weather protection. If you are running in town and just encountering wet and a bit cool or cold temperatures, a lighter, water resistant shell is sufficient. Those with zip vents at the arm pits are especially nice for running to help regulate your temperature. Shells that are both water proof and breathable are the more expensive options, but allow for lighter weight and still offer waterproof protection for mountaineering, hiking, or skiing. Garments made with eVent and Gore-Tex are some of the best choices. Some shells come with a zip-in fleece layer which allows for more flexibility.
Although quality winter weather gear can be spendy, making the investment in your comfort and safety is worth it and well made products with a good warrantee will last you for years with proper care.
Stay warm and safe and keep on getting out there!
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