Believe it or not it was only 8 months ago that the UK was covered in deep deep snow and Dogface was practically living in his black Equafleece jumper. As the days turn colder here are my top 10 ways to stay toasty warm when out and about.
1. Check For Wind.
A constant North wind can turn a pleasant sunny day into a freezing one. Check the wind forecast as well as the temp before bowling out of the front door in a pair of short shorts.
2. Warm Your Middle Bit.
The most important bit to keep warm is your torso. You’ll never keep your hands and feet warm if your kidneys are exposed and cold. Make sure your tops come down long enough to overlap your bottoms.
3. Be Defensive.
Start off warm by trapping your body heat before facing Jack Frost in battle. Pre-warm your jumper and jacket and do them up before leaving the house.
4. Get Yer Thermals On.
Thermal undies are out. ‘Base layers’ are in. Look for garments made from Merino wool as it doesn’t make you sweat and doesn’t get stinky and it’s an excellent soft insulating layer. Modern base layers can look great too. Head to your local outdoor activities shop rather than Marks and Sparks. I’m very happy with my Icebreaker black leggings and long sleeved top I picked up a year ago. Still look like new, wash beautifully (non-bio detergent and no fabric softener), and they dry very quickly. Plus of course they’re toasty warm!
5. Luv A Duck.
A lot of jumpers and coats for sale have ZERO ability to keep you warm. It’s all about insulation and they just don’t have any. That military style coat from Next might look great but there’s nothing but 2 thin layers of fabric between you and the cold.
Real goose down is your friend. Buy a coat, jacket, or body-warmer with goose down in it (not synthetic foam) and you will be laughing in the face of Mr Freeze. Natural down doesn’t work well when it’s wet, so avoid making the snow angels, but nature still beats science hands down when it comes to insulation. Goose down is also light so it literally won’t weigh you down the way a heavy woolen coat will.
In the Spring sales I bought a goose down body-warmer. It ‘s my go-to item when I’m feeling the cold. 5 minutes wearing it and I’m toasty warm! It also works well in combination over or under other items. Worth every discounted penny.
6. Embrace Science.
Okay so Mother Nature produces amazing stuff, but the companies that make outdoor clothing have some smart cookies back in the lab. Fleece is warmer than wool, dries quicker, washes easily, and is better wearing. Gore-tex and Paramo waterproof fabrics keep you dry without getting soaked themselves. ‘Soft shells’ are generally wind-resistant (closely woven fabrics keep the wind out), insulating with fleece of some kind on the inside, and water-resistant all in one smart fitted jacket.
Okay so branded outdoor clothing costs more than the stuff in the department stores and supermarkets but it A) works and B) lasts. The highly competitive outdoor clothing market is pushing high levels of technological advance. Modern outdoor clothing is warmer, dryer, better wearing, and more practical than ever before. Forgot the geeky oversized ugly clothes from Millets of yesteryear too. These clothes are funky, beautifully cut specific to gender, and fashionable. Also for some brands guaranteed FOR LIFE from manufacturing defects. Plus with all the competition you can always find bargains online.
7. Be The Cat In The Hat.
It’s true that you lose a lot of heat through your head. Hats don’t suit you? You feel silly wearing a hat? Well… it’s a choice. Hats aren’t popular at the moment (they’ve been incredibly popular historically, we’re just going through a hat dry spell) so if you wear one people will probably comment in that “my eyes are directly connected to my mouth” way. So it’s a simply a choice between being comment-free or having a warm head.
8. Cultivate Warm Pockets.
A few stores sell those little heat packs that you can crack and they give off heat for a few minutes. I love them. I have 4 so that I can be refreshing a couple at home and still have two in my pockets. In addition the tiny wheat packs you heat up in the microwave are good to pop in your pockets on a cold morning before you leave the house. Good old fashioned hot water bottles are great at home. Blankets as well, although I recommend thick fleece blankets over wool ones as they wash easily and are warmer.
9. Speak Softly And Carry Secret Coffee.
A train or bus station is the coldest place on Earth at the end of a long day, in the dark, waiting to go home. Train stations really collect the wind and it whistles down the platforms making herds of commuters shiver. This is when Starbucks make big money 🙂 Save your pennies and make a flask of hot whatever-takes-your-fancy before you travel. My Web-Tex Flask is always filled with hot chocolate before a cold night’s camping just in case I wake up in the middle of the night freezing cold and the one time I needed it it was worth it’s weight in gold.
10. Watch Our For Small People.
Small people lose heat quicker as they have a greater surface area to mass ratio. Little kids, skinny teenagers, small women will all feel much colder than a grown adult male on a cold evening. Bear in mind that you may be warm in a t-shirt but the small person with you might need a coat, a hot drink, and a cuddle.