How to properly dress in cold weather

Goldstocks How to Keep Warm Composite

Layers. Lots of layers.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Ahhhh, winter in the Northeast: feet of fluffy snow one week, inches of painful, crusty sleet and freezing rain the next. You have to be prepared for anything in these parts, which is why I visited the folks at Goldstock's Sporting Goods in Scotia. They've been outfitting the Capital Region with cold weather gear since 1896.

Owner Ladon Roylance and retail employee Lisa Clock took time out of their day to explain to me the art of keeping warm. (Apparently, the soccer socks and NKOTB shirts I used to wear skiing weren't helping me much.)

Technology has come a long way since I was a kid: Goldstock's has vests that heat up, gloves with their own warming finger inserts and a machine that will form fit a ski boot to your foot.

But you don't have to go to such lengths to stay warm. Five principles will keep you properly bundled in the cold...

Goldstocks How to Keep Warm Ladon and LisaCover - When it's very cold, cover every inch of your skin. That means when you're skiing you should wear a balaclava, goggles, and helmet on your head so that not even your nose is exposed. If your snow pants don't fit quite right, mind the gap (aka plumber's butt) and make sure your long underwear is tucked into your pants and your coat covers your rear. And watch that area around your wrist: long glove liners and cinching sleeves will solve that problem.

Fabric - Every outdoorsy person I know uses this phrase when talking about warmth in the elements: "cotton kills." When choosing a base layer, never go with cotton -- it won't wick the moisture away from your skin. Instead get fabric like merino wool (softer than regular wool) or wicking synthetics to keep warm. Gore-tex or something similar is a good choice for an outer layer. It's waterproof and breathable.

Fit - Not too tight, not too loose. It goes for almost everything you wear to keep warm. If you are wearing boots that are too tight you can constrict circulation to your toes. If you have on long underwear that's too big, it can't properly wick away sweat. While you may want to give your sweetheart that awesome pair of snow pants for Valentine's Day, a gift certificate may be a better choice. Trying on your clothes is key to getting the correct fit.

Moisture - If you take one thing away from this post, it's that moisture is root of all coldness. It is difficult to avoid getting sweaty when you are working hard, but if you do and your socks aren't doing their job, take them off and put on a new pair says Ladon. Once you're wet and cold it's difficult to warm back up again. That goes for hanging out in the lodge, too: they're often warm and crowded -- take off some layers so you won't overheat.

Layer - Even the world's most expensive snow pants will make you cold if you don't have the proper layer on underneath says Lisa. Ladon owns three different types of long underwear: a thin pair, medium thick pair and a heavy pair. For people with circulation issues (or whose hands just get cold), glove liners with Gore-Tex mittens are great, "that way your hands never have to be exposed to the cold."

So, CFFML to keep warm. Or in the spirit of learning through acronyms (a la, My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas): Call Frank For Mom's Lamp.

Have any tricks or tried-and-true methods for bundling? Please share!

Find It

Goldstocks Sporting Goods
98 Freemans Bridge Rd
Scotia, NY 12302


COTTON KILLS! .... who knew? I always think I am doing the right thing with a cotton t-shirt as my first layer! Learn something new everyday! Thanks!!

But what about looking psychotic in a balaclava?

I think I had balaclava for desert last week...

I skied on MLK Day (the high was about 15, but at 9am it was definitely colder), and only my toes, hands, and face (in the wind) were cold. I wore three pairs of pants---Under Armour Cold Gear tights for running, old school long underwear on top of that, and then Adidas windbreaker pants for good measure. Then three shirts, a fleece, and a down jacket. Layer, everybody.

Haha, the first thing I said as I got to the bottom of the post on the front page and was clicking over to the full article was "Cotton kills!" (Out loud, in a triumphant tone, to myself, in my empty apartment. Yes I am a nut.)

You're not alone, Carol. :)

Maddie, that's a tough one. I think avoiding the ones that have openings in the mouth help. I wouldn't go into a bank wearing one either.

Mmmmm... honey and nut balaclava...

Good tips, DC. I don't even want to know what the windchill was. Ouch.

Phoebe, you're just passionate about spreading the word. I completely understand.

Aside from the basics, one essential item that I never leave home without is a "Buff" (brand headwear). I usually use two, one around my neck and the other for my head. They're perfect for active snowsports like snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Keeps the wind off your grill, wicks away the sweat, and won't overheat like other furry neck gaiters. Plus, you can constantly change their shape to adjust to your body's needs.

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