How to stay comfy, warm and bruise-free

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010

My personal rule for any outing is: If it's not fun, don't do it.

Hence, when I go out, I go prepared.

Here are a few basic tips:

Any surface that once harbored moisture is likely now covered in a fine layer of black ice. Shoe cleats are key for added traction. Of course, there's always the hazard of getting cold. As long as there's enough internal body heat being conducted, it's easy to stay comfortable on long, or short, outings. But when I stop, even just to snap a quick photo or adjust my laces, I feel the chill creeping in. It's the sweat that does it. So utilize layers to wick moisture away from the skin. I usually wear at least three layers on top, the outermost covering being a shell or jacket of sorts. On the bottom, I opt to endure a bit of chill, hence I top my layers at two. Any more than that and I either swelter or feel restrained. But perhaps the most important of all articles is the socks. Yes, this time of year it's the thick, knee-high wool blends that I prefer. There's just something about warm, cozy feet that keeps me trucking down the trail. And speaking of extremities - specifically the hands and head - keep those buttoned up as well. I'm old school with my gloves. I prefer the $1, thin, cotton variety that can be balled up and shoved in my pocket if I get too warm. For extreme conditions, like blowing snow, I use Nordic skiing gloves because they breathe, repel moisture and wind, and feature a soft inside and often a leather palm. Often, I get very warm when I exercise, so I prefer a hat that breathes. Try out wool blend hats no thicker than a sweatshirt that cover the tops of your ears, but avoid those that wrap around your head or have a fleece lining. Even though wool is scratchy, it stays warm when wet. Fleece just gets cold. But the most important, yes the absolute most important thing to enjoying an outing is having a dry set of everything waiting for you at the trailhead or in your pack when you're done. And don't wait to change out of those damp clothes. Tossing on a dry shirt, hat and clean pair of socks will raise your body temperature fast and leave you relishing in those endorphins instead of shivering all the way home.

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