Truly Experience Winter in the Miami Valley
As the first weather reports of snow appear in the holiday forecast our routines shift from a fall to winter mind set. One of my favorite attributes of the Miami Valley is the ability to truly experience all four seasons, and winter is surely one of them. When the temperature drops below freezing, Miami Valley residents have a tendency to lock themselves in their homes, crank up the heat and pull out the snuggies. Why stay inside all winter when this region has numerous opportunities to enjoy the serenity, spirit, and color of the winter season.
Before you begin to scan local calendars, festivals, maps, and resorts, it is vital to understand how to properly dress during the winter in the great outdoors. The easiest way to state it is to, “Think Like an Onion.” Yes, an onion, not the onion that makes your eyes water or gives you bad breath but the onion that is layered. Layering is the key to regulating your body temperature in the winter.
Understanding how your body loses heat is the key to choosing the right layers. There are four ways you body looses heat, each with a scientific label that I will leave out as not to bore you. Body heat is lost by heat escaping due to lack of insulation, wind drawing heat off exposed skin, direct contact with cold surfaces, and evaporation from sweating.
Numerous dangers, which include hypothermia and frost-bite are possible, even in mild temperatures, when the body is not properly protected. In order to protect yourself from cold ailments and dangers you need to be properly insulated for the activity you will be participating in.
Sedentary: like fishing or hunting require thick insulation around your core area and where your body might come in contact with cold surfaces
Active: such as cross country skiing and snowshoeing require not as much insulation around your core and should focus on protecting your extremities with fabrics that wick sweat and breathe well.
Mixed: Alpine Skiing is an example of a mixed activity where you may experience a balance between heart-pounding effort and rest. Layering and venting become more important to easily transition between bundling up and cooling down.
Thinking like an Onion is the principle concept in protecting your body during outdoor activities in the winter. The layering process consists of 3 main layers.
Base Layer: consists of a thermal layer, sometimes referred to as long underwear. Base Layer fabrics should consist of non-cotton material such as silk, polyester, and poly blends that are excellent in wicking moisture off your skin.
Mid Layer: the functionality of the mid layer is to provide some insulation and style when the outer garments are removed. Wool and Fleece make a great insulating mid layer. If possible, stay away from cotton at all costs.
Outer Layer: provides protection from the elements, such as wind and rain, or snow. Outer layers can also have additional insulating capabilities. Effective outer layer materials include breathable, waterproof fabrics. Many companies have different names for outer layer fabrics which may include Gore-Tex, Conduit, etc.
Experiencing the outdoors during the Miami Valley winter is a great way to beat the cabin fever and get out of the house. To ensure a safe and enjoyable winter outing, be sure to have little skin exposed to the outside, adequate insulation, regulate your body temperature through layering to avoid sweating, and have a great time.
A few key outdoor retailers in the area are experts in winter recreation and outdoor endeavors. Visit these two locally owned shops for more expert tips on effective layering and to purchase some of the best gear available. Great Miami Outfitters, www.greatmiamioutfitters.com and Valleywood Ski Shop, www.valleywoodskishop.goodbarry.com