During the winter months, outdoor activities are often associated with chills and frozen extremities. But that’s all in the past! With our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to spend hours hiking, skiing, or skating, all while staying toasty warm with a full belly (because fuelling up is also essential!).
Adopt the multi-layer technique
The principle is simple: wear multiple layers of clothing to better manage heat during your activities. When practicing sports in the cold, you probably tend to sweat while active and then freeze once you take a break; wearing several layers will help avoid such extremes.
This layer is mainly used to absorb perspiration and transform it into water vapor. A long-sleeved shirt will usually do the trick. If it’s made of polyester, it will dry very quickly, but can create a sudden cooling effect when you stop to take a break, since polyester doesn’t absorb water very well. Those who aren’t a fan of polyester can turn to merino wool, which is very thin and doesn’t itch; it absorbs water well but dries more slowly. As for cotton, it isn’t recommended, because it retains moisture for far too long.
Over your sweater, we recommend wearing a so-called active mid-layer. Fleece fabric, or polar fleece, is ideal because it does a good job evacuating the moisture produced during exercise.
In your backpack, bring a coat with puff insulation, to replace your polar fleece with once you sit down to admire the landscape or have a bite to eat (the inactive period). There are two types of puff insulation to choose from: natural (down) or synthetic.
If you want to bring only one mid-layer, we suggest opting for a coat with synthetic puff insulation, which allows moisture to pass relatively well (but not as much as a polar fleece).
This is the shell, a waterproof windbreaker, that you can put on if the wind is very strong or lots of snow begins to fall (or both).
And what about the legs?
You can also apply the multi-layer technique to your legs . . . that way you won’t want to run straight home the moment the temperature plummets!
Gearing up on a budget
Holes are fun in the snow, in the form of tunnels, not so much when it comes to your budget! To help save money, visit thrift stores, or join Facebook groups that are focused on outdoor activities, where you can find second-hand items for the whole family that are affordable and in good condition.
Goodbye, frozen fingers!
Everyone is familiar with hand warmers, those little sachets you slip into your gloves or boots during long days spent hiking or skiing. Yes, they’re super efficient, but they end up in the garbage—such waste! But good news! There exists an eco-friendly version that can be reused up to 100 times. We’re talking about the Hot Poc, a product that’s proudly made in Quebec and that is offered in various formats. So you can be comfy and warm wherever you go!
Fuel your body
Drops in energy can make us more prone to the shovers, which is why it’s so important to fuel your body with the right snacks and beverages. If your activity is less than 3 hours, opt for a snack that’s rich in carbohydrates, such as a cereal bar or fruit-filled muffin—this will provide your muscles with the energy they need. If your activity is over 3 hours, you should also add some protein and healthy fat to your snack. Think cheese, seeds, nuts, or nut butter sandwich.
When it comes to hydration, water is key. To jazz your water up, consider infusing it with cucumber, lemon rinds, or mint, for example. During your breaktime, warm up with a hot beverage, such as herbal tea, mulled wine-style kombucha, or hot chocolate. Try to limit your caffeine intake, as it can dehydrate, and keep those alcoholic drinks for at night, as a post-activity treat.
Don’t forget about your furry friend!
If you’re heading outdoors with your favourite four-legged friend, make sure to bundle them up accordingly. Some short-hair breeds need protection against the cold. A coat and booties will help ensure they can run around and play in the snow for hours!