Levels of Cold Weather Gear

When the mercury dips, proper cold weather gear is essential to keep you toasty. Insulation and warmth are the most important factors, but there are also other considerations such as fit, breathability, and durability that can make all the difference in your comfort levels and ability to function outside. Getting your winter wardrobe right can mean the difference between owning the cold, and the cold owning you.

Level One: Baselayers

For most activities, you'll want to start with a lightweight, quick-drying base layer that will wick sweat and dries quickly. Next up is a midweight insulation such as a lightweight fleece or wool. Finally, a thicker outer shell or insulated parka will provide protection from wind, snow and rain.

Level Two: Insulated Jackets

For serious cold conditions, a puffy jacket is the best option. Puffy jackets are filled with either goose down or synthetic materials and are rated by how warm they are and how water resistant they are. Down is the gold standard and offers unparalleled warmth, but it's not very effective if it gets wet. Synthetic options like The North Face's McMurdo Down Parka offer similar warmth and waterproofness without the drawbacks of down.

Level Three: Extreme Cold Weather Gear

For very cold conditions, you need a piece of extreme cold weather gear that can handle the lowest temperatures on earth. This type of equipment will be thin and light, but it will have enough insulation to withstand extremely low temps. A good example is the Shiver Shield line of clothing that was recently featured on CBS' Innovation Nation show where it withstood liquid nitrogen -320 degrees Fahrenheit.

This type of extreme cold weather gear can be worn as a top or bottom layer, and includes things like fleece hats, gloves, and even shoes. Gloves should be insulated and feature either waterproof or breathable shells to prevent moisture from getting inside and freezing your fingers. A hat helps retain body heat and is often a key element to a complete outfit for cold weather adventures.

Footwear: Boots should be insulated and have good traction on snow or ice. If you're going to wear boots that aren't insulated, consider adding insoles for extra warmth and comfort. Hand warmers and toe warmers are easy to buy at most outdoor gear stores and provide an inexpensive way to add more warmth to your hands and feet.

Whether you're summiting big mountains, shoveling the driveway or just running to the car, the right cold weather gear can make all the difference in your enjoyment of the outdoors. With the right combination of layers and insulation, you'll be able to withstand even the most brutal cold weather. So put on your cold weather gear and hit the trails! Just don't forget the marshmallows.


Green is the new colour. Gear up and begin your flow with the new green journey.