Bust Your Budget And Luxe Up Your Winter Fun
If you’re winter-bound, have some favors to cash-in or a few extra dollars in the piggy bank, now might be a great time to suck up to your spouse, offspring, bestie or yourself, and get a new piece of gear that will encourage you to go outside even when it’s nippy. We’re talking winter fun. Well, exercise.
‘Cos cold weather is a great time to go for a walk, waddle, ski, or snowshoe, and you know you’ll feel better with a new supply of endorphins and a fresh one-up on your scared-to-go-out friends. So, splurge a bunch (or have someone splurge for you) and get something special for winter conditions.
4 possibilities to luxe up your winter fun, not in any particular order:
#1 Cozy wool baselayers
What the ancients knew, outdoor folks have rediscovered. Wool is the cosiest against-the-body fabric. Try on a set of baselayers, and you’ll figure out right away that wool has a much warmer feel than the comparable synthetic. And these days, high end manufacturers—like Smartwool and Icebreaker—get their wool from Merino sheep. Translation: no itch. With fun designs, low stink, and preshrunk materials, what’s not to like?
Aaand, great investment! 5 years later, they may still look like this:
#2 Splendid Snowshoes
Don’t spend another winter without snowshoes if you have consistent snow deeper than 4″. A good pair will last for years, there’s no learning involved, and there are local groups that go out and need more snowshoers! And they’re a great way to see National Parks, either guided by a ranger or just a collection of friends.
Atlas, Tubbs, and Redfeather are popular. But if you can spare a little extra to for a real treat, get MSR snowshoes. They’re more durable than other brands—they’re US made—and are easy to put on even with mittens.
If you have questions about snowshoeing, check out Get Started With Snowshoes: Q&A For Outdoor Seniors and How To Choose Snowshoes You’ll Love: Off The Wall And Onto Your Feet.
#3 Toasty mittens
Now, maybe you’re chuckling that Muddy Boots categorizes mittens as an extravagance? News flash! Good mittens are expensive critters. They may be the ultimate luxe for winter fun. Just think of all the little seams and tight corners that have to be stitched so they don’t pull apart. Just think how complex the hand is, and how a top-notch glovemaker will want to keep you as dexterous as possible but still keep you warm.
For winter, you’ll want windproof or wind-resistant gloves, a finish that is water repellent or waterproof, and insulation. If you feel cold all the time or if you have to stand around while your dalmatian poops, get a fairly bulky insulation. Muddy Boots recommends Primaloft or down.
[Photo above. Young woman in lime green wearing a spectacular pair of Black Diamond mittens.]
If you do more than a little snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or winter hiking, you will bless your gaiters. Snow gets easily kicked up by slapping snowshoes, feet, or skis. Gaiters keep snow from sticking to or wetting your lower pant legs. They also mean you may avoid having to wear bulky ski pants.
[Photo at right. 3 men wearing gaiters. They are also wearing red microspikes for traction on winter hiking trails.]
What are gaiters exactly? See Slush And Scree…What’s So Great About Gaiters?
#5 Spiffy softshell pants
A good pair of softshell pants is versatile enough for coldish hiking, snowshoeing, or shopping. They can be layered up if necessary.
Softshell fabrics are water resistant and wind resistant. If you tip over, snow will fall right off. If you round a bend and get blasted by wind, your legs will be protected from the worst of it.
[Photo at top of post. Two snowshoers at Rainier wearing softshell pants. They have a neater, trimmer look than ski pants.]
Not unless you’re out sledding with the grandkids or unlikely to be moving right along. If you’re even a smidge athletic (which will inevitably happen after a few brisk outings), ski pants will be hot-flash city. You may also find their bulk annoying.
On the other hand, you won’t want a super thin softshell for mid-winter. It still has to do serious duty in keeping the weather at bay.
[Photo below. Several snowshoers are wearing softshell pants, e.g. the woman second from last. The last woman is wearing ski pants.]
Need some ways to enjoy winter in company? Ideas at Get Out Of The Grumps And Into A Park: 5+ Guided Winter Activities.
Luxe up your winter fun photo credits. Featured image…Yellow winter: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr. Rainier, Returning snowshoers: CC BY 2.0 by Blair Cook via Flickr. Smartwool tops: All Rights Reserved, ©DustyCarMuddyBoots.com. Snowshoe panel…Left, Snowshoes on balcony: CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay; right, light green snowshoes: CC BY 2.0 by Karen Neoh via Flickr. Mittens panel…left and right, screenshots, Black Diamond and Outdoor Research mittens; center, Snowshoeing in Lassen: CC BY 2.0 by Lassen NPS via Flickr. Yurt – January 2014: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Over the Arroyo Gang via Flickr. Snowshoe group: CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay. Snowshoe hike, Angeles National Forest, P1000141: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Linny Heng via Flickr.
Note: This post mentions products and manufacturers by name. They are guidelines only and not advertisements.