I have to admit to being somewhat agnostic when it comes to winter weather. Living in southern California, it’s something I hear about but do not experience.
I am aware that it gets cold in some areas of the world. I’ve heard the term “polar vortex” and know the principle behind the windchill factor. But honestly, I just don’t care one way or the other. Well, I didn’t care until a couple of weeks ago.
I traveled to Colorado on business, booked into a nice hotel and settled in to get ready for a meeting the following morning. I woke to snow and temps in the low 30s F. There I was in open-toed shoes and a light sweater trying to break through some kind of frozen material disguised as ice and snow on the car’s windshield.
Normally, I would have chalked it up to poor planning and forgotten about it. But this was different. As I stood there in the snow, chipping away at the windshield feeling more foolish than cold, I kinda’ panicked. In just a matter of months, my husband and I, our business and all that we own will pack it up and move to Colorado!
All I could think was how do people who live in cold climates manage to do that without majorly interrupting their lives and messing with their minds? Friends have assured me it’s not difficult, provided you “have the right clothes and you know how to layer.”
Sounds easy enough if you now what that means. But I don’t. So I posted a plea for Help! on our DPL Facebook page.
Within minutes, readers who know how to live happily and comfortably through cold winters began pouring in. You guys are fantastic, and I’m grateful. I have learned so much. In fact, I’m feeling very confident. Here’s what I’m learning:
Proper winter dressing, means three layers: wicking, insulating and protection.
Wicking is the layer worn next to your skin, usually consisting of long underwear. This means the fibers will wick (move) moisture away from your skin and pass it through the fabric so it will evaporate. This keeps you warm, dry and comfortable. Readers are divided on the details of this wicking layer. Most insist (and I mean passionately) that silk thermal underwear is the secret of happy people in winter weather. Others are equally insistent that it has to be the brand Cuddle Duds because they fit so well and these items are so warm and comfy. I’m torn but plan to go with the majority, opting first for silk.
Insulating is the middle layer, and includes sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and pullovers. The purpose of this layer is to keep heat in and cold out, which happens when air gets trapped between the fibers. Popular insulation materials include fleece, a synthetic material that works well to insulate because it dries quickly and wool which naturally wicks away moisture.
Protection is the exterior layer, like a jacket and pants or a coat that serves as protection against the elements of winter. The protection layer should repel water from snow, sleet or rain. It should also block the wind while allowing perspiration to evaporate. Most genuine winter shells and pants are made waterproof and breathable to some extent by using tightly woven fabrics that have a coating or laminate. This keeps moisture on the outside but allows perspiration to escape, keeping you dry and comfortable.
Many readers strongly suggest that a down-filled coat or jacket is well worth the investment and something that I will not regret. I’ve been looking around and wouldn’t be at all surprised to find this beautiful packable down coat in shale, under the Christmas tree with my name on it.
Headwear is essential because most of the body’s heat escapes from an uncovered head. I’m pretty excited that I’ll have a very real need to knit more hats, headbands, and beanies.
Sunglasses will do more than make us look cool. They’re essential to protect our eyes from the damaging solar radiation. And as we’ll be living in the high elevation of northern Colorado, I’m learning that the ultraviolet rays are particularly powerful, making sunglasses with UV protection an absolute must for good health and comfort.
Socks. Oh, my. You people really do know your socks and have totally convinced me that we’ll each need a pair of SmartWool socks. I was skeptical. I mean really, aren’t socks just socks? A bit of research convinced me that my readers are pretty smart. About wool. SmartWool socks are made from a perfect blend of New Zealand merino wool, nylon and elastane, engineered to be ideal for cold weather, addressing all of the problems regular socks and winter can produce (too hot, too cold, too tight, too bulk, too stinky). Let’s just say that my husband is going to find a pair of SmartWool socks in his Christmas stocking.
There’s no doubt that preparing for our first winter is going to require an investment of time and money. Thank you so much to everyone who weighed in with such excellent and specific information. You can still find that post and the highy entertaining comments at Facebook.com/DebtProofLiving. And while you’re there, click on that “Like” button to join in the fun.