Happy New Year! It’s January in Winnipeg, our most exotic month. With downtown skate trails, toboggan hills, and fine dining on a frozen river, The Forks has cultivated a bustling, active winter city. I’m proud of us!
I spend a lot of time skating at The Forks, and when the Red River Mutual Trail opens (very soon!), I will begin skating to work. Now that is a hilarious, unique, and wonderful winter novelty in Winnipeg. Whether you’re skating, tobaganning, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, walking or having dinner at RAW Almond, I’ve got all the tips and tricks to keep you warm all winter long at The Forks.
I recently visited with Garret at Wilderness Supply to get the best advice on how to properly dress for winter, including layering, different materials, and the kind of socks that should be mandatory for every Winnipegger.
Use these as guidelines, depending on the activity you are planning, your personal preference, and the weather outside.
Here are the three main layers (tops and bottoms!):
The base layer: or as most people call them, long johns. These are a game changer. Your old, thin cotton long johns may need an update. Your base layer should be fairly tight and close fitting to the skin. If you’re especially active, this layer also helps to wick moisture (sweat!) away from the skin. I prefer a synthetic or wool base layer.
The mid-layer: the layer you’ll add for the coldest weather. This layer doesn’t have to be too technical or specific. Let’s be honest, it’s usually an old pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Think leisurewear for this layer.
The shell layer: this is also your wind protector, commonly known as your jacket and ski pants. Pants can be insulated (a bonus built-in mid-layer!) or just a nylon shell. When I cross country ski or do a more active sport, I usually leave the jacket at home and go for the thin nylon shell on top of my layers.
Head, hands, and feet: No one wants to end a romantic skate date because of cold feet! Wool socks are a Winnipeg winter must. I don’t often recommend brand-specific items, but Smart Wool socks are the Cadillac of socks. I only need one layer; they are that good. One layer of socks is also more comfortable in my skates—not as tight as multiple layers of socks. I’m perfectly comfy and warm! I pretty much live in Smart Wool socks all winter. If you take away one thing from this, it is: invest in good socks.
Sporty toque, fashion toque, or hood, you can really play around with head fashion on the skate trail. As long as you cover your ears and forehead, you’re good to go. On windy days, face covering is essential! Personally, I find scarves too cumbersome for activity. They get untied, and I feel like I’m constantly having to adjust them, so I’m all about the neck warmer. Again, I prefer wool; it aerates well (condensation when you’re breathing into it) and doesn’t stink if you’re susceptible to sweating! I can pull it up and over my nose and ears, and it stays put. I love my neck warmer. Winter got 78% more enjoyable when I purchased it.
For hands, I’m all mittens, all the time. Gloves are never warm enough for me. Down filled, waterproof mittens are pretty much the cat’s pyjamas. I also like the old elementary school trick of tucking your mitts into your jacket or one of your underlayers. Snow on the wrists is the worst!
So there you have it! Once you’ve figured out all your layers, winter is truly an invigorating time of year. So for all you winter ‘haters’ — put on some layers, block that wind, and get out there. See you on the Red River Mutual Trail and in Arctic Glacier Winter Park!
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