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Stay Warm This Winter

4 January 2019

We could be set for the coldest January on record after the Met Office predicted a cold snap arriving by the end of next week, and snow arriving in the hills this weekend.

Last year we saw the “Beast from the East” cause huge problems across the country when it arrived in late January, bringing with it strong winds, blizzards and freezing fog.

If similar conditions are to be expected this month now is the time to get prepared, and make sure you’re not caught out by the winter conditions. To get prepared we’ve been taking advice from Outdoor Hero Glyn Dodwell, and his excellent blog onthehills.co.uk

Layering up is key

As the mercury drops and the winter conditions set in, it’s important to remember that layering is key.

The layering system is well-known, however Glyn believes that that doesn’t mean it all has to be the same.

“There is no definitive answer or structure to layering.  It is primarily what it says – layers of clothes added to and taken away to control heat, & moisture and protect against the wind and the rain/snow.”

There are four parts to layering up; base layer, insulation layer, outer layer and then covering your extremities.

The base layer is worn next to the skin and should ideally be lightweight and able to keep the skin dry and temperature controlled by wicking moisture away quickly.

“The best material options to consider are merino wool and polyester. Avoid cotton as this does not offer any insulation when wet and takes too long to dry.”

The insulation layer is where we start adding warmth, trapping air between the layers and ensuring adequate heat control.

Usually made of fleece, down or synthetic variants, and utilising different features or technologies, the insulation layer can also be made of several pieces rather than one big thick layer; “it is better to be able to add or remove layers to help regulate the heat.”

When we’re heading out on the hills, we usually like to pack a warm fleece as well as a down jacket for rest stops and lunch breaks to maintain temperature.

Your outer protection

“This is the layer that protects against the rain, snow and wind. It needs to be water and windproof and must be quick drying and very durable; ideally it should also be made of breathable material such as GORE-TEX or similar fabric.

“It also needs to be long enough that you can sit on it.”

The outer layer is designed to keep the elements out and the heat in; for us, a decent GORE-TEX (or similar technology) hard shell with a DWR (durable water repellence) is one of the first things on our winter pack list.

Combined with your baselayer, fleece and potentially a down jacket, the hard shell helps to fully protect you from the winter conditions, but it still needs to be breathable to stop that build-up of heat and moisture that can be counterproductive to staying warm.

“At the start of a walk do not dress to be nice and warm in the car park.  Dress to ensure you will not be too warm in 15 minutes time.  If you over dress from the start, you will get too hot and sweet excessively and make your layers too wet and uncomfortable.”

Heads, hands and feet

“It is a well-known fact that a large amount of our body heat is lost through the head, especially if like me you have little or no hair!  But a large proportion is also lost through the hands and feet.  How many times have you found that your hands and feet are getting cold first?”

Starting at the top, consider getting a warm beanie that covers your ears. In the toughest conditions we go for our Brinzlea Cap, which has a DWR finish and a GORE-TEX insert to protect against the wind and rain, as well as a warm Sherpa fleece lining to protect against the cold.

Similarly, protection around the face and neck can be achieved using one of our Choobs.

However, it’s not just the head that needs to be protected. As Glyn says, it’s important to stop hands and feet from feeling the cold as well.

Much like the rest of your body, layering is key here.

A lightweight liner glove, such as our Merino or Thermal Touch gloves act as a baselayer, wicking moisture and adding warmth.

For added protection, either from the rain or snow, or even just when the temperatures are that little bit colder, then you can add a warmer outer glove or mitt over the top of your liner.

If you’re after our warmest option, then look no further than the Matterhorn glove or mitt; a highly featured GORE-TEX option with Gore plus warm technology and superior insulation for longer lasting warmth.

As you can probably imagine, socks are fairly important to keeping your feet protected in the winter. Similarly, a decent pair of boots is also high on that list.

However, there’s only so far a sturdy, grippy pair of waterproof winter boots, and thick pair of comfortable socks can take you.

Further protect your feet with a pair of gaiters, helping to seal that vulnerable spot at the bottom of the leg and top of the boot.

Our Karakorum, or Cairngorm gaiters, both using GORE-TEX technology and with a durable outer fabric are both good options in winter weather.

Don’t forget to head over to our website to find all the accessories you need to stay warm, and if you’re in need of clothing check out our friends at Sprayway.