woman in winter forest

How to dress for your winter adventure

When it comes to an outdoor excursion during the winter months, clothing can make or break your experience.

If you’re cold or wet it’s going to be much more difficult for you to enjoy your time in the outdoors. Making sure you’re properly outfitted for whatever weather comes your way is crucial.

Luckily, our friends over at SAIL have some great tips for staying warm and cozy on your foray into winter.

Layers, layers, layers

person walking in snow

You burn up energy and get warmer as the day goes on, so being able to adjust your layers is critical to staying dry (the key to being comfortable and safe).

Sure, this can sometimes mean taking a layer off, but savvy winter adventurers choose the right options.

This might mean wearing an outer shell that packs down into a small carry bag (slinging a heavy jacket over your shoulder for half your hike can be a real pain). It could also mean choosing options with airflow zippers that can be adjusted as your ramble.

Here’s how to get it right…

Start out with a merino wool base layer

This layer is designed to evaporate sweat and keep you dry under your other, additional layers. Merino undergarments will keep you warm and dry, even when your body’s working hard!

man and woman walking in snow

Naturally antimicrobial, Merino does not retain odours, and therefore does not need to be washed after each wear. In fact, the less often you wash your Merino wool socks, sweaters and underwear, the better they will be!

Here are more tips on maintaining your Merino gear.

Next, you need an insulating mid-layer

This layer’s purpose is to keep warmth near the body. Although your base layer helps you stay dry, this layer is helps you stay warm. And we’re all for that!

two cross country skiers in snowy field

What’s the difference between down- and synthetic-filled insulated jackets?

If you prefer to take a light stroll and won’t be exerting a lot of physical energy, a down jacket is the way to go. It’ll keep you warm even when you’re not moving around much. Lightweight and highly compressible, down is also good for layering, and has a durability that’s hard to beat (if well maintained).

Synthetic jackets are hypoallergenic, easier to maintain and more economical. They also have more moisture resistance. That said, they’re also less durable and bulkier.

Top it off with a shell

This is especially key on a rainier, snowier, or windier day.

Either a soft shell or a Gore-Tex jacket will help retain the warmth you’re generating. Make sure it’s wind- and water-proof and that you can move around easily in it.

Don’t forget your head, hands, neck, and feet!

Try a light synthetic or wool toque for your head, and a buff for your neck.

people snowshoeing

A buff is a bit like a tube, but it’s super versatile. You can put it up to protect your chin or whole face, like a balaclava. And buffs offer excellent heat retention, wind protection, and moisture management.

Socks and mitts are important because your body loses warmth from these extremities. Keeping them covered is also part of regulating your body temperature and keeping you warm.

Well-stocked pockets

Tuck small items — like chapstick, sunscreen (the sun’s rays reflect even more off the snow in the winter!), a whistle, a spare pair of gloves — in your pockets. Stashing snacks, like dried fruit and trail mix, are a great way to reward yourself for a successful hike.

And, of course, don’t forget your water bottle.

See you on the trails!

Ontario Parks thanks corporate partners like SAIL for their support.

Interested in supporting Ontario Parks? Become a corporate partner, or make a donation here