When it comes to getting outside in winter, it helps to have the right winter kit. But when thinking about the staples, which materials to buy, where you have to invest vs where you can scrimp a bit… it can seem a bit overwhelming at times!
So Ross Cursiter, who hosted our November winter workshop, from Arc’Teryx Piccadilly has shared his top tips for buying winter kit, to make sure you enjoy adventures in the outdoors this winter.
- There are two key pieces of kit to invest in for winter – a waterproof and insulation
- A shell jacket should be waterproof, windproof and breathable, which protects from two of the three reasons for cold (wet, wind, temperature). So whilst active, be bold and start cold, with just your shell
- When buying a waterproof, the go-to is Gore-tex. Gore-tex currently offer three styles currently – “Pro” (most durable), “Active” (for lightweight day hikes) and “Products” which houses the C-Knit Backer (super comfy against skin) and the Paclite backer (lightweight emergency shell)
- A waterproof should be just that PLUS windproof
- You should only wash waterproofs when the product is dirty or before reproofing it. Make sure you wash them using a specific waterproof wash such as Nikwax or Grangers (not normal laundry powder!), and follow the care instructions. And don’t forget to reproof after washing, in the same way!
- Insulation is the other key item to invest in
- insulation products tend to be for post activity, e.g. at camp or during breaks (or obviously if it’s really cold) rather than used as activewear
- Most insulation products aren’t waterproof but offer warmth and wind resistance. And the thicker the insulation, generally the warmer is it
- There are currently two types of insulation – down and synthetic
- Down is made from feathers and is super light and packable however if it gets wet, it won’t work and the product will often be ruined unless washed correctly
- Synthetic tends to be a little heavier and less packable but will work when wet and can dry out on its own (perfect for UK weather!)
- A fleece is an excellent addition to your layering system (i.e. mid-layer) and perfect with a shell for keeping warm while active
- There are different types of fleeces but generally thicker is warmer
- A traditional fleece will let more wind through and can snag more. A hard fleece (more like a jumper) will be more durable
- This is an item that you don’t necessarily need to spend bucketloads on
- Perfect in cold dry windy conditions and super breathable so can be a useful extra layer to have
- Although fairly water resistant, it’s not a substitute for a waterproof
- Waterproof trousers are very subjective however if planning on being out in rain for extended periods of time, would recommend taking them
- Many women hike in sports leggings and carry lightweight over-trousers in their backpack
- Gore-Tex Paclite tends to be a good option, as they’re light and packable while being capable when needed
- Full-length zips are handy for getting on and off over boots
- soft-shell trousers will resist most of the elements but if in heavy rain for a long time, you’ll get wet!
- Keep as light as possible – you’re carrying it!
- Go smaller rather than larger, as you’ll generally just fill it (because you can!)
Extra tips when outdoors
- When you stop being active, your body will instantly start to cool down. So it’s really important to trap the heat your body is giving off by putting on your insulation straight away
- Store your insulation at the top of your bag so that when you stop, it’s the first thing you put on and the last thing to take off
- Synthetic insulation can be put on over the top, over everything, without worrying about getting wet (unlike down) so instantly trapping the heat
Ross Cursiter is a Sell-Through Rep at Arc’Teryx, responsible for technical training and positive sell through in key accounts throughout the UK. Arc’teryx is a technical high-performance outerwear and equipment company based in North Vancouver, Canada.