On December 4th, I made a public resolution on this blog. And that was: Find a way to enjoy winter. Notice how I didn’t use the word “love,” but simply “enjoy” (as in, “not hate with a bitterness that last three months”). On today, the first day of not only a fresh new year, but also a fresh new decade, it seems like an apt time to share an update.
The experts (i.e. my husband) insist that enjoying winter is all about getting the right gear. And then wearing this gear in layers.
The down-side to getting the right gear, is that the “right” gear can be expensive. The up-side, however, is that it literally lasts forever. Hubby has been slowing acquiring high-end winter gear since he moved here from Australia 14 years ago. He’s had every piece since he’s bought it — nothing has worn out or needed replacing. (Then again, unlike moi, he’s been the same size for the past 14 years too, so that helps.)
He is a patient man and started this process when we were newly-weds living on a very tight income. I, on the other hand, am not patient nor do I have another 14 years to spend acquiring this stuff.
So what I did is this: I want to one local store (Bushtukah) and got everything essential in one foul swoop. Although I managed to get everything on sale, I admit that I had to bite my lip when I heard the total bill. The amount that I spent on this stuff would have gone a long way towards replacing one of our 1970s-era kitchen appliances! But alas, life is about the experience, right?
So, in case you are on the same experience as me, here is the gear I picked up and how it’s worked out so far.
From top to bottom:
Hat: cotton knit, already in my closet
Base layer: “smart wool” long-johns, from hubby’s closet
Mid layer: Sierra Designs light micro-fleece jacket with full zip (on sale for $42.30)
Outer layer: Running Room jacket already in my closet from failed attempt at running course
Gloves: Black Diamond 100 gram Thinsulate, from Santa
Pants: Louis Garneau Vital Pant (on sale for $74.70)
Ski poles:Louis Garneau (on sale for $20)
Cross-country skis: Fisher Sporty-wax (on sale for $119.20)
Ski boots: Madshus Boot, Amica (on sale for $113.60)
Socks: SmartWool brand, medium cushion (on sale for $17.95)
The biggest improvement from what I used to wear is the pants. I already own thick snowpants like the kind children wear, but they are really bulky. These new Louis Garneau pants, however, are just perfect! I was skeptical that I’d be warm enough in them, but they are awesome because they keep the sweat off your skin while still providing insulation. (My hubby had originally suggested a different type of pant, one like he wears. But they were only available in a fitted waist and I thought that was too risky since my weight fluctuates so much. I know that if I put on my pants and they are tight, I get depressed. And that’s no way to start an outdoor adventure!)
As for the actual ski gear, I picked up all basic starter stuff. With the exception of the boots which I paid about $20 more for an upgraded pair that had a stiffer heel. I’m very happy with them. My feet were perfectly comfortable and toasty warm the whole time (and this is really saying something since I wear at least two pairs of socks to bed!).
Speaking of socks … I really don’t like the idea of spending more than a few bucks on socks. But the outsdoorsy folk I know always swear that good socks (meaning good wool socks) are critical. They have a saying: “cotton is rotten.” That’s because when cotton gets wet from sweat, it just stays wet, whereas wool is a natural fibre that wicks the sweat away from your skin. Every year I give my husband some “fancy” socks in his stocking and every year he is grateful. Now I know why — cuz they rock!
Have you been out doing outdoorsy stuff yet this winter? I am perpetually amazed when I see people out biking or running in the snow. I don’t think I’ll ever get to their point of winter-acceptance, but I am slowly working my way towards a kind of acceptance nonetheless.
Note from Julie on November 15, 2015: Hey, are you curious to see how this whole Winter Resolution thing has been working out? Check out this post for an update: “What I’ve Learned from Saying “Yes” to Winter.”