Monday, February 6, 2012

In Like a Lamb and Out Like a Lion?

     So the weather last month didn’t feel or look like January weather. We ended the month with a 65 degree day – not exactly ideal skiing conditions. But guess what? According to the National Weather Service, snow totals in the Mid-Atlantic often peak in February (remember the two feet of snow on February 11, 2010? Or the 28 inches of snow on February 21, 2003?). With or without the white stuff, we’re not done with the cold weather yet. If you’re wondering how to dress for temps that range from 32 to 62 degrees, here is a “dress for success” guide adaptable to any February day.

     The best way to dress for winter is to wear layers. This gives you options depending on the temperature and your activity.

     First, there’s the wicking layer—the clothing closest to your skin. You want this base layer to act as a moisture manager. High-tech fabrics that wick away moisture include spandex, polyester, nylon, and Lycra®. Avoid moisture-absorbing cotton – fluffy cotton towels are great for drying off after a shower, but they retain moisture, making them ill-suited for wicking. It’s safe to say that a sweaty cotton turtleneck in windy conditions will spell heat loss. The wicking layer should fit snugly, but offer room to breathe.

     Your next layer should insulate your body and protect you from the cold. An insulating layer creates a pocket of warmth and lets you retain heat. Fleece and pile (plush material), both lightweight and non-bulky fabrics, let the body breathe and allow moisture to escape. Another great thing about fleece: it comes in pants, pullovers, vests, hats, and gloves.

     The shell is the final layer of your outdoor ensemble. This outer layer works hard to protect you from wind, rain, and snow. Jackets or pants should fit over your insulating layer and be breathable and well ventilated (so inside moisture can evaporate quickly). Shells are made from tightly woven fabric, like nylon, and are usually treated with a water-resistant finish. Keep in mind that water-resistant is not the same as waterproof. Water-resistant material is typically lightweight, while waterproof material is heavier and less breathable. Outdoor experts stress that you should never venture out into the cold without your protective shell. It’s your armor against the elements. You can always shed the outer layer when the sun pops out and the winds die down.

     Without trying to sound like mom, keep your head covered! Here are some tips for your extremities:
  • Headgear is in right now. There are hats that look like a Mohawk, earflaps with braids, even furry bunny caps; the styles are endless and fun. An uncovered head lets up to 60% of your body’s heat escape, so get fashionable and warm! 
  • Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves because your fingers create side-by-side warmth. Look for breathable, water-resistant fabrics. 
  • Socks should be made out of breathable materials like nylon, wool, and polyester. Don’t layer too many socks – it can restrict blood circulation and cause cold feet. 
By Anne Gill

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