Multiple massive snowstorms have battered the United States this past week, sending most of us deep into the winter doldrums. It’s easy to sink into hibernation mode, settle in front of the TV for a nice Netflix binge, and consume copious amounts of comfort food. However, cabin fever will soon set in, and even if you only venture outdoors to shovel the driveway, it’s important to be prepared to stay warm outdoors while it’s really cold.
We consulted the experts at Big River Running Company, a St. Louis-based company that specializes in walking and running gear. How exactly should residents, especially those who are active outdoors, prepare for the bitterly cold temperatures?
Mimi Zielinski, a 60-year-old, has been an outdoor runner for over 40 years and uses her expertise and experience to guide Big River Running customers. She routinely puts together outfits for men and women to brave the weather and stay active year-round. We asked her what items are her favorite go-tos to stay warm when it’s really cold. She cautioned us that it’s important to not skimp on any item of clothing in the cold. Here are all of the essentials for an enjoyable run or walk in cold weather.
1. Base Layer
As Mimi tells us, the most important article of clothing to beat cold weather is your base layer. A good base layer is form-fitting and wicks the moisture away from the body to keep you warm and dry. Look for breathable materials like polyester and nylon because they resist water and sweat. Many long-sleeved base layers also have thumbholes to keep the sleeves securely in place and your wrists warm. She recommends the lightweight Oiselle Flow Long Sleeve as the best base layer for women. For men, Mimi suggests the highly rated Lululemon Metal Tech Long Sleeve 2.0.
2. Outer Layer
The key components to look for in a warm outer layer are waterproof and windproof fabric along with plenty of insulation. In order to move comfortably, it’s also important to avoid coats that are too bulky. Mimi recommends the New Balance Reflective Winter Jacket for women. This jacket is reflective, so you will feel safe outdoors even after dark. It’s made of 85 percent polyester to provide ample wind resistance, and the interior head grid traps your body’s warmth. For men, Mimi says you can’t go wrong with Nike’s Therma, a long-sleeved quarter zip. This jacket zips up over your neck, a vulnerable spot to leave exposed during the cold. Its Dri-FIT technology will keep you nice and dry, and the lightweight fabric allows you to move freely.
While exercising outdoors, no one wants to be held back by bulky snow pants. Tights have come a long way, and Mimi recommends the New Balance Reflective Heat Tights for active women. For men, Mimi loves the Brooks Momentum Thermal Tights. Both of these full-length tights are made with proprietary heat technology to wick away sweat and keep your bottom half insulated. Bonus: Both have zippered pockets to keep your valuables secure.
Finding the right moisture-wicking pair of socks is imperative to keeping your feet dry and saving yourself from blisters and chilly toes. Mimi recommends that women walkers invest in Feetures Merino Wool Quarter Length Socks. These socks are made with a combination of Merino wool for warmth and absorbent, lightweight Tencel fibers. They have a reinforced toe and heel, along with higher density fabric in high-impact areas to provide ample protection against blisters. Of course, if you prefer to keep your ankles covered, they offer crew-length as well. Mimi recommends Balega Enduro Quarter socks for men, which also promise dry feet and a seamless toe for overall comfort.
It’s imperative to keep your head and ears warm, or your walk or run may be cut short. Active women may prefer a headband rather than a hat so they can keep their hair pulled back. Mimi suggests the Sauce Ventilator Head Band. These fashionable headbands are 4″ wide to keep your ears protected and hair out of your face. They are lined with Polartec® Power Dry® insulating fabric to keep your head dry and warm. Since many men may prefer hats, she recommends the Sauce Swift hat, made with the same Power Dry® technology and available in many fun styles and patterns.
Mimi loves the Amphipod Adaptable Run Gloves so much that she recommends these for both men and women. These gloves have four different levels of protection and can be folded all the way down exposing your fingers for easy shoe-tying or phone use or folded up over your fingers into mittens. They even have a zippered pocket available on top to house your keys or credit card!
7. Running And Walking Shoes
Any seasoned runner knows the key to avoiding injury and maximizing performance is a solid pair of running shoes. Be prepared to spend a little more upfront if you want them to go the distance! Mimi recommends On Cloudultra Hybrid Running Shoes for women. The soles of these shoes have Swiss-engineered Missiongrip, perfect for gripping wet or uneven surfaces, giving you peace of mind even in the snow. For men, check out the Brooks Ghost Running Shoes, one of the most loved running shoes. These shoes maximize cushion to allow you many miles of comfort. Bonus: Brooks uses recycled materials to make 30 percent of the upper fabric of their shoes in their efforts for a more sustainable world.
8. Surprising Addition
Of course, we wanted to know all of Mimi’s secrets for staying warm and comfortable outside, so we asked what we forgot. Mimi said sunglasses are a must while outdoors, regardless of temperature. She loves Goodr sunglasses for women. These lightweight polarized sunglasses have silicone gripping inserts on the nose to help eliminate slippage when you’re breaking a sweat. For only $25, these are a no-brainer addition to your wardrobe.
For men (and women), she suggested adding a face or neck buff to maximize warmth outdoors. Your neck is especially vulnerable in the cold, and keeping it covered will help the blood stay warm as it runs through your body.
For more warm winter clothing recommendations, check out: