Rumor has it that winter comes around every year, and so far, that rumor has proven to be true. If you’re living where it’s apt to get cold, you should probably read on. Gearing up for winter is one of the smartest things you can do, but getting it right so you don’t lose your fingers or toes (or your balls) is the hard part. Never fear, though – we’re here, and we know how.

Whenever winter draws near, we get emails asking us about the other winter gear posts and pages we’ve had, and whether there’ve been new developments – invariably, there have been, and that’s why we repeat ourselves every year. So, without further babble, here are the top XX things you need to do to survive and thrive in the cold.

Base Layers – wtf are those?

Longjohns, MK1

Base layers are stuff you’ve got closest to your skin. The most usual stuff is long underwear – those things will save your life if you wear the right type. Not only that, long underwear will make sure you’re comfortable, even in very low temperatures. However, there are a few things you’ve got to remember – it’s the make or break of your whole ensemble.

Only wool or wool blend long underwear. Minimum wool content is 60%, but go as high as you can.
– Never, ever, ever wear synthetic materials (stretch material in a wool blend is fine). Synthetic materials will make you even colder, no matter what the ad says.
– Cover your whole body in wool as a base layer. Remember feet, head and hands too!

Personally, when on duty in temperatures as low as -13F (-25C), we’ve even worn double layers of this, and been able to work in boots, duty pants and shirt, plus a “NATO” sweater. You know the kind. If you’re staying still, however, we recommend a good jacket on top.

Recommended Base Layers:

There. That should get you started. If the temperature goes down below -10F, you should wear 2 of the top one. Just sayin’.

But it’s windy! What to do!?

We’ll tell you.

The clue is to reduce air movement between your skin and the outside – that’s what will get you, every time. Wool is great at doing that, and since it’s a natural animal fiber, it will stay warm even when it’s wet. But: you need to cut the wind between the wool and the outside. So you need a shell.

Your duty pants will do, but they have to be high thread count, so to speak. We’ve got a few good options for you.

Usually, you’ll get a shell jacket from your department or company, at least if you’re a cop or a security guard.

"NATO" wool sweater

However, it can be a good idea to compliment that with a nice, warm sweater. Can you guess what it should be made of? You got it – wool. Nothing but wool. Cotton and synthetic fibers are not allowed! Don’t even think about it, Jack.

Since you won’t be wearing it against your skin, it’s not as big a deal if it’s not Merino wool, but you should still look for high quality wool, what’s sometimes known as “new wool”. So-called “NATO” sweaters are the top picks in this category. They’ll keep you warm, they’re durable and rugged and they’re easy to keep clean. If you buy them from a reputable dealer or from military surplus, they’ll last for years and years.

The US army has a similar sweater, but the buttons makes it a little more vulnerable. It is, however, a very durable and extremely warm sweater. It’s also cheaper… but you get what you pay for.

This will get you started, but never fear – we’ll be trying out some new stuff this fall, and tell you all about it. Stop by soon.

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