We live and play in Colorado. You will never hear me complain about Colorado weather because it is beautiful and there are so many things to do year-round. However, there is one aspect to Colorado weather that makes things a bit less fun, and thats the cold….more specifically, trying to recreate in the winter and just being cold the whole time.
Each time out, I try a new idea, or devoice or “hack” to staying warm when out camping, snowboarding or heck, just even out for a walk with the dog. While I’d love to report all the great things I’ve learned, the fact is, one tool above them all works the best for controlling that inner thermometer, and thats keeping your core warm. Let’s chat about staying warm in the winter when camping or just enjoying the outdoors.
Why Do We Still get Cold Even Though We Are Wearing So Much Clothing In The Winter?
Short answer? Not wearing the right type of clothing, not layering, not covering hands, feet or hands the right way and not keeping our core body temp regulated. I’m not pointing fingers, but there some easy steps you can take to stay warm in the winter, even while camping or hitting the slopes. First off, we can’t control the weather, but we can control how we prepare and experience the weather, and that starts with our clothing choices.
Stay Away From Cotton
Most of the clothing we grab comes in cotton, it’s no surprise at all that people wear it so often, myself included. However, cotton is not your friend when experiencing the outdoors for a variety of reasons. Cotton does breath well, but it does not wick away moisture well and if it gets wet? You’re gonna be in a bad spot if it’s the winter. Lets look at some alternatives to cotton when winter exploring.
Alternatives To Cotton
Wool: Wool has been a timeless pick for winter weather and for good reason. Wool has snuggly woven fibers making it a great insulator. Wool is excellent at wicking away moisture, yet can be a bit cumbersome to wear. I remember being issued cold weather gear in the Army and getting wool sweaters.
When I received my wool sweater, I thought it was ugly and dumb (I was 18, relax), but, once the temps really dropped and were running around outside living out of a duffle bag and sleeping under the stars for weeks at a time? That same wool sweater became my best friend and to this day, I love a good wool layer. Also, wool will last longer than you in life.
Fleece: Fleece has been a winter go-to for some time, I’m pretty sure The North Face exploded in popularity after the software bros in Silicone Valley couldn’t stop wearing them back in the early 2000’s. There’s a good reason everyone loved them though, most of the properties that make wool great are also shared in fleece, yet you get them in a much lighter material. Machine washable, moisture wicking, warm and not too heavy, fleece is a great mid-layer.
Polypropylene: Polypropylene is a very popular man-made fabric that carries lots of great warming properties. Polypropylene is warm, thin and form fitting, making it a great choice for base layers. Polypropylene fabrics also carry some of the best ability to wick away moisture, a needed property in winter recreation. Most modern base layers are made of polypropylene.
Down: Ever see a duck or goos laying on snow for hours and wonder how they never get cold when they just have feathers? Well, it starts with their “down” layer of feathers. If you look behind the beautiful colored feathers on a duck, you will find the down layer that does the true insulation for the waterfowl. Just like ducks, when we wear a good down jacket, you can bet that you will be warm, making down a great choice for an outer layer.
Cover your Hands, Head and Feet
We lose body heat the fastest through out head, hands and feet. Because of this, we need to ensure we take extra caution and ensure we use quality fabrics with good insulation to cover these vital thermoregulation areas. In the past, i went cheap on gloves, socks and beanies, but as I’ve gotten older and wised-up a bit, I genuinely see the value in well manufactured winter gear that use good winter-friendly fabrics to keep me warm. In fact, I recently picked up some Outdoor Research wool gloves that are phenomenal.
Layer, Layer and Layer Some More!
The best “hack” to stay warm when out in the winter, is good use of layering your clothing. Layering works well because each “layer” of clothing creates its own thermal barrier from one another and with each layer, you have another layer to your own body temperature. Layered clothing to stay warm in the winter starts with a good base layer. In fact, dont even head out in the winter without a base layer, just dont, it’s arguably the most important aspect.
Signs Of Hypothermia To Be Aware Of
After reading this article, you will be warm and ready for the outdoors, however its good to know about the signs of hypothermia just in case you are out longer than expected or didn’t dress appropriately. Some of the signs to be aware of with hypothermia as stated by the experts at the CDC:
Signs of Hypothermia in Adults
- Exhaustion or feeling very tired
- Fumbling hands
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
Signs of Hypothermia in Babies and Kids
- Bright red, cold skin
- Very low energy
While you may feel like you need to “tough it out”, if you find yourself or a loved one showing signs of hypothermia, you need to take action and move to a warmer area, take in some warm fluids and stay in that warmer area until your body gets back to healthy temperature. You can learn more at the CDC.gov
So, What’s The Secret To Staying Warm?
So, we know why we get cold, we know how to layer and we know the signs of hypothermia, now, whats the real secret? It’s heated vests and great socks/gloves. I would have never guessed this in the past, but after a couple test cases, I can confidently say that a heated vest will do a tremendous job of keeping your core warm
Heated vests are a special commodity in the clothing world. They keep you extra warm but do it with style. So what if the wind chill factor is threatening to start a goosebump garden on our neck? Now, there are heated vests. A heated vest is a cross between a futuristic runway outfit and a heating pad on steroids. All you have to do is wrap yourself in one of those cozy world warmers, and you’re set. When prepping for your next Winter Camping trip, there are a couple things that must be figured out, staying warm is one of them, and thats where heated vests start to save the day.
What To Consider When Choosing A Heated Vest
The hardest part about finding the perfect heated vest is finding what’s right for you. Like most things, there are several good ones out there. You just need to talk to yourself a little bit before making a choice. If anyone hears you talking to yourself and tries to call for help, just start singing a song. Tell them it’s really bothersome, getting a song stuck in your head, then smile (Works every time for us.).
When choosing a heating vest, the first person to listen to is yourself. Whether you are looking for a vest as a gift for someone else, or hunting for one for yourself, you need to know a few things, such as:
Where Will it Be Used?
If you are planning to give it to a friend who lives in Texas or Florida, a heated vest probably won’t see a lot of use. Unless, of course, that friend enjoys traveling to chilly places. Then, you are choosing exactly the right kind of gift. Because people who live in warm climates can feel cold very keenly. When they travel, a heated vest might be a life saver.
What is the “Personal Thermostat” of the Person?
If the person is you, do you find yourself feeling cold a lot? Can another person in the room say the temperature is just right, and you know it is just plain cold? That is a good case for a heated vest. We are all different. We will all experience things in our own way. That includes the temperature of the room day by day.
How Does a Heated Vest Help When Camping?
Remember how a hot shower helps your muscles relax? Well, heated vests can have beneficial properties, too. Release of tension, among other things. You might be looking to stay warm on that hike or trip to the mountains, but don’t limit yourself.
Heated Vests For Women
1. Venustas Heated Vest for Women
Runs on a 5-volt battery., which is smaller than many heated vests. So it might seem that you would have trouble staying warm in this vest. However, several things work together to be able to use less energy and still keep you toasty.
The zippers are made by YKK, a Japanese company that started clear back in 1934. Today, they make approximately half of all the zippers in the world. Sounds like they are doing something right. So what do zippers have to do with using less energy? A good zipper means things stay closed. But that is only the beginning of how we keep-our-goose-bumps-at bay. The lining of this heated vest is made of a thermal material called silver mylar, the same kind of “fabric” they make emergency blankets out of. With the 10000 m/Ah battery, you can enjoy up to an amazing 11 hours before the next charge.
On both sides of the vest, there are pockets. Not just pockets, either, pockets with zippers. After all, you don’t want to lose your phone before you get it hooked up to the USB port in your heated vest. Yes, you can charge your phone from your vest. Well, it only makes sense. If you are going to be out for a while, you don’t want to be without a phone, now do you? Comes in four colors. Go ahead, get it dirty. It is machine washable. Comes with a battery pack and a waterproof bag.
Now might be a good time to check out our Guide to Winter Hiking Essentials
2. Venture Heat Women’s Heated Vest
This heated vest features carbon fiber heating. Carbon fiber is incredibly thin—.0001968 inch. With that barely-there-but-very-efficient fiber, the Venture heated vest will warm your neck, back and chest. The heating panels have been made larger than they used to be—20 per cent larger, to be exact. You put those two characteristics together, and you have the start of a cozy friendship.
Then, add a button on the chest of the jacket for control. That’s right. When you need to change the temperature—there are three settings for heat level—you touch an insignia on the chest. Just don’t expect to be able to talk to someone on a ship in space. Maybe that upgrade will come in a couple years, who knows?
We like how straightforward this company is. Rather than say the heated vest will run “up to” a certain number of hours on a single charge, they get down to specifics. If you operate the vest on “high”, it will run for three hours. If you operate it on “medium”, it will run for six hours. If you operate the vest on “low”, it will keep going for 10 hours.
Psst! Did you know? Not all tents are created the same, you might need a 4-Season Winter Tent, check out the Best Winter Tents! Phone Charger and Flashlight: This heated vest has a USB port like most of the other heated vests, so you can charge your phone. But it takes it further. Press a button, and you have a flashlight. That is good thinking. Washing and Warranty This vest comes with a packing cube and it has a one-year warranty. For cleaning, it can be washed and dried just like all your other gear.
Heated Vests For Men
1. Ororo Men’s Heated Vest
This lightweight vest is made of 100 per cent nylon. The design is specifically made to be sleek and trim, while still affording plenty of movement. Heated with carbon fibers (.0001968 inch thick), the vest will keep you toasty warm. The heat generated is spread across the middle of the back, in the collar area, and in the pocket spaces. It is also resistant to wind and rain.
This heated vest is quick starting, heating up in a few seconds, then holding a charge for up to 10 hours before needing to be recharged. Has a phone USB port because, come what may, we hate to be without our phones. Now, you can charge your phone off of your heated vest. This is an easy-to-wear warm-up, wherever you happen to be. The company that made this vest made it to withstand at least, at least, 50 machine washes.
2. Ororo Men’s Fleece Heated Vest
Staying true to the Ororo type, breathability is a keyword with this heated vest. But it takes it a step—or two—further by adding a stand-up collar, and lining the vest with fleece. Using the incredible carbon fibers as futuristic heating elements, a button is pushed on the chest in order to control heat levels. Whatever level is chosen, it will be spread across the middle of the back and the right and left chest.
Push the button on the vest, and within only a few seconds, warmth will spread around your back and chest. It comes in fast, then the heat hangs around for up to 10 hours, keeping you at the level of warmth you want. Don’t forget to charge your phone—or other devices—while you are keeping warm. In this time of things being built so they can fall apart, it is nice to know that this heated vest is made to go through more than 50 machine wash cycles.
These heated vests are about more than just being cozy. They are about practicality, as well. Hitting the slopes? Bombing single track in the winter? A heated vest is low-profile and effective. You know the drill by now, GET OUTSIDE!