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What to Wear for Winter Walking

How to keep walking in the cold


Updated May 20, 2014

Two Couples Cold Weather Walking

Dressed for Winter Walking

© Jim Cummins / The Image Bank / Getty

Walking for fitness outside in cold weather can be more comfortable if you prepare with the right clothing and gear. But there is more of a trick to it than just putting on what you think will be the warmest clothing. You will be moving, producing body heat and even sweat. You need to protect your skin from the cold and wet while still allowing enough breathability so you don't overheat and sweat doesn't make you clammy and chafed.

Dressing in Layers

Next to the skin: Your base layer should wick sweat away from your body to keep your skin dry. Cotton should not be used -- save your cotton t-shirts for other purposes. Good long underwear pieces are appropriate. Choose those made from fabrics such as Thermion, polypropylene, Thermax, Thinsulate, or silk.
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Insulating layer: This layer will keep you warm, but you may not need it once you are warmed up. That's why it's smart to wear a vest or shirt as your insulating layer rather than wearing a jacket that is insulated. The insulating layer can be made of wool, polyester fleece, pile or down. You can vary this by the temperature.
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Outer layer: A windproof and water resistant jacket will protect you from wind and light moisture. It should be worn loosely. If you expect rain, you should wear a waterproof jacket. Look for breathable jackets that will let your body moisture evaporate, but still keep out wind and rain.
Top Picks for Waterproof Jackets

Pants: If the weather is below freezing, you may want to wear long underwear bottoms or tights underneath another pair of pants. Cotton and denim should be avoided because if they get wet, the heavy wet fabric will stick to you and be very uncomfortable and could even lead to hypothermia. Choose running pants or running tights made of synthetics that wick moisture and will keep you more comfortable in rain and snow.
Top Picks for Walking Pants

A Change of Clothes: If your walking route is away from home, bring along a set of warm and dry clothes to slip into immediately after walking to keep from getting chilled by wet walking clothes.


Hat: A hat is essential to keep your body heat from escaping, as well as to shed rain. A polar fleece hat with ear covering is my ideal winter headgear when it is below freezing. Top Picks for Winter Walking Hats

Earband: For those whose ears get cold, earbands and other earwarmers are the answer. Top Picks for Hats and Ear Warmers

Gloves or mittens: Mittens will keep your hands the warmest as the fingers work together to build up warmth. Look for windproof mittens.
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Water bottle: You need water in winter as much as in summer, and drinking fountains may be turned off. Bring water along to stay hydrated.
Top Picks for Single-Bottle Packs

Scarf, neck gaiter, ski mask: Having a scarf or similar item along to wrap around your neck when the wind turns brutal can save your walking comfort.
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Sunscreen and lip protector: The earth is closer to the sun in December through February. so you need to protect your skin. Lips and face can chap without protection.

Umbrella: These are known to prevent rain when carried along on your walk. Buy a very lightweight, collapsible umbrella to carry along.
Top Picks for Umbrellas

Happy Feet

Waterproof shoes or boots: If your walking is wet or snowy, invest in a pair of waterproof walking or hiking shoes. Many shoe and boot companies have lightweight styles to keep you dry. Coating shoes with a water repellent fabric treatments is another option. Compare Prices

Traction: Don't wear slick-soled shoes if there will be wet or snowy pavement. For icy conditions, see Stabilicers, YakTrax or Ice Walker slip-on cleats. Compare Prices

Socks: Switch to heavier socks or wear two pairs for more insulation. Test your socks with your chosen shoes to make sure there is still room for your toes to wiggle. Snow and Ice Walking Gear

Next > Reward Yourself for Cold Weather Walking
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