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Dress to Keep Warm in Winter

Canada's Winters are Cold - Dress to Keep Warm in Winter

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If you visit Canada between November and March, you will likely encounter some chilly - and in some locales, downright frigid - weather. Not being dressed for the cold can ruin a day - especially if you're with kids. Thankfully dressing to keep warm in winter is easy if you follow a few important tips.

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Dress in layers.

Woman on beach, closing zipper of hooded jacket.
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Dressing in layers is rule number one for dressing for cold weather. The most obvious advantage is that you can take off or add layers depending on how you feel.
  • Start with a thin, wicking layer - like silk, polyester or nylon, not cotton - next to the skin.
  • Fleece or polyester should follow as the second layer. Wool will work but tends to be heavier and more restrictive.
  • Finish with a third waterproof, wind-resistant layer, Gore-Tex or another man-made syntehic fabric, for example. Don't forget snow pants; in sub-zero weather and for extended lengths of time, jeans alone won't cut it.
  • Be sure to wear layers on your legs as well as your upper half, such as long silk underwear. Even a pair of nylons is better than nothing; but avoid cotton.

Keep it loose.

Make sure none of your clothing is too tight. Looser clothes insulate better and allow more fluid movement.

Less is more.

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The goal when dressing for a cold day is to stay warm, but not to get hot and sweat, which can, ironically, make you cold because of the moisture produced. Pick fewer, quality items made of the proper fabrics rather than overdressing.

Avoid cotton next to the skin.

Cotton tends to absorb water, such as sweat, which will end up making you cold. The goal is to stay dry, which in turn will help keep you warm. Choose other fabrics, such as wool, silk or synthetics.

Keep your feet dry.

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Feet should be covered with wool socks and water-resistant, insulated boots. Putting plastic bags around your feet to ensure dryness is another option.

Don't forget the accessories.

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Hat, mitts and scarf are musts in cold climates. If you can find a hat with ear flaps, all the better. I find leather mitts with fleece gloves built inside the best for sightseeing, as the leather is supple and gives your hands better movement. However, for snow sports, gloves made of high-quality, water-resistant synthetic fabric may be better, or wool gloves covered by a nylon shell.

Another handy accessory is a pair of disposable heat packs, which you can buy at sporting stores or even some convenience stores for about $3. They can go into boots, mitts and pockets and will give you a little heat blast for about 4 to 6 hrs.

Although they won't keep you warm, don't forget sunglasses. Fresh white snow on a sunny day can be intense and bright.

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