Winter Weather - How to stay warm & safe, and have the most fun in the cold!

Many of us are heading into cold winter weather. Since I have a self-diagnosed allergy to treadmills and would prefer to exercise outdoors than indoors in almost any kind of weather, I often get asked for tips and ideas for how to stay safe and warm in the winter weather. Making sure you're properly prepared for the conditions will ensure that you can get the most out of the winter season!

Here are my top tips for staying warm, safe and comfortable in winter weather. 

1) Layer, Layer, Layer: I like to do a base layer made of a tech material that will wick away sweat, and then layer on from there, depending on the weather. Your core will warm up as you get moving, so wear an extra layer that will be easy to remove when you heat up.

I always make sure my hands, feet and ears are well protected because if they are not, you can bet I will be miserable! I prefer tech materials and wool because they do not hold the moisture like cotton does. To me there's nothing worse than being sweaty AND cold at the same time!

*See the caption and photos at the bottom of the post for some specific brands that I like to use

2) Proper footwear: This could technically be included in the clothing category, but I feel it deserves it's own discussion. Footwear includes socks (again, I prefer wool), warm/water resistant or waterproof shoes or boots and, if necessary, some sort of traction control on your shoes so you don't slip. You can find YakTrax or Microspikes for various types of activities online or in your local running/sports store. This year, I'm considering investing in a pair of winter running shoes with traction that is built in!

3) Take a Buddy: This is a great idea to do at all times, no matter the weather. If you're going on a trail or in cold (or hot) weather conditions, having a buddy with you is always helpful. If you're heading out by yourself, make sure a family member or friend knows your route and approximately when you'll be back. I always tell my husband "the time to start worrying if I'm not back yet is X"

4) Protect your face and exposed skin: Wind, sun and cold can do a number to your skin. The sun is surprisingly strong in the wintertime, especially when reflecting off the snow, so I always put on face lotion with sunscreen, as well as lip balm with sunscreen. Nothing like chapped, raw skin to make you not want to go out in the cold again!

5) Lighting: If there is even a tiny chance you will still be out and about in the dusk or dark, bring a headlamp or flashlight with you! My husband and I recently took our daughter and our dog on a hike. We decided to take a loop that ended up taking us longer than expected. Thank goodness I had my headlamp, because my husband was carrying her in the backpack, and it was great to be able to keep up our pace and not worry about tripping hazards on the trail. I personally like the Black Diamond Sprinter, which is adjustable, and has a light on the front and on the back. It's also rechargeable!!

**Bonus tip: Take notes from one year about which clothes worked best for what weather. You'll be glad you did the following year when you can't remember at what temperature you need that extra pair of socks or the thicker tights! Everyone is different, so making your own custom cheat sheet is a great tool.

My cold weather ensemble includes: Cold weather tech material  Underarmour  mock turtleneck, thick running shirt over (various brands) and then a variation of my  REI  running vest,  Canari  cycling jacket/convertible vest (in neon yellow!) and heavy duty  Columbia  winter jacket. I use an  Athleta  headband for anything down to about 20 degrees, and below that I use my balaclava (also from REI), an incredibly flattering face mask (as pictured I have it pulled down but it goes all the way up over my nose!). 3 different thicknesses of running tights keep me warm the whole winter long, no matter the temps.  *None of these brands are sponsors, I list them in case you want to look for a similar item!  The layering continues with the hands and feet! A thin pair of  Smartwool  gloves underneath thick mittens and a pair of tech 5 toed socks under Smartwool socks allows the moisture to be wicked away. And if I get warm, I can take one layer off.  Don't forget your proper shoes/boots along with some  Yaktrax  or  Micro/Nanospikes ! They both have different versions depending on what activity you're doing.  Enjoy your winter!!

My cold weather ensemble includes: Cold weather tech material Underarmour mock turtleneck, thick running shirt over (various brands) and then a variation of my REI running vest, Canari cycling jacket/convertible vest (in neon yellow!) and heavy duty Columbia winter jacket. I use an Athleta headband for anything down to about 20 degrees, and below that I use my balaclava (also from REI), an incredibly flattering face mask (as pictured I have it pulled down but it goes all the way up over my nose!). 3 different thicknesses of running tights keep me warm the whole winter long, no matter the temps.

*None of these brands are sponsors, I list them in case you want to look for a similar item!

The layering continues with the hands and feet! A thin pair of Smartwool gloves underneath thick mittens and a pair of tech 5 toed socks under Smartwool socks allows the moisture to be wicked away. And if I get warm, I can take one layer off.

Don't forget your proper shoes/boots along with some Yaktrax or Micro/Nanospikes! They both have different versions depending on what activity you're doing.

Enjoy your winter!!