Top tips for staying warm and dry outdoors this winter

Whether you’re climbing, walking or camping this winter, no one likes getting cold and soggy. It’s not only a sure fire way to put a downer on an otherwise great day out, but it can also be potentially dangerous. Once your body temperature starts to drop, it’s a lot harder to get warm again than avoiding it in the first place.


There are lots of things you can do to stay warm and dry so that you can stay comfortable and enjoy your day out on the hill or the mountain.

1. Choose a breathable jacket

When you’re out and about, cold air plus body heat can equal condensation inside your jacket. To avoid this, choose a breathable modern softshell jacket that will allow excess moisture to evaporate and escape.


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2. Don't get too hot

Not as daft as it sounds: if you sweat, you’ll get cold when you stop moving. That’s what sweat’s for after all. So, as you warm up, open venting zips or take off a layer or two.

3. Don't let the wind ruin your hard work

Your hard-working, 37° body is heating up a nice layer of warm air around it to maintain a healthy temperature. Don’t let the wind strip it away! A lightweight windshell or softshell jacket can beat the windchill without the bulk.

4. Wrap up warm when you stop

When you stop moving, you stop generating heat. To retain the warmth you’ve built up, a down or synthetic insulating jacket is ideal. Super light and packable, they’re easy to keep stashed in your bag. Long used by mountaineers, they’re just as useful for a quick lunch break.


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5. Mitts are warmer than gloves

Mitts are great when out and about in the cold because they allow your fingers to huddle together like penguins, sharing warmth instead of being isolated by glove fingers. Of course, this does make taking a bearing or placing gear more difficult, so wear a liner glove under your mitt to keep your hands warm if you need to take your mitts off. Just remember to tether your mitts to your wrists so you don’t lose them.

6. Pre-heat hats and gloves

Insulation is all about retaining the warmth your body is creating. By keeping hats and gloves stowed inside your jacket, they’re already toasty when you put them on.

7. Avoid sitting on the cold ground

When you’re perched on a ledge or just stopping to take in the view, the ground beneath you will absorb your precious body heat. To avoid this happening, carry a small sit-mat or sit on your pack (as long as there’s nothing breakable inside it!).

8. Fuel your fire

Eating and drinking are vital for your body to generate heat. A hydration system and a few energy bars and snacks to keep yourself topped up, but on a cold day there’s nothing quite like the ‘mmmmm!’ feeling you’ll get from a hot flask of soup.

9. Look after your kit

Waterproof membranes live on the inside of your clothing and boots. The outside has a water repellent treatment when it’s new, but this will wear off. To avoid being wrapped in a chilly, rain-sodden layer of clammy gear, remember to regularly re-treat your kit.


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10. Preparation is key

It’s very easy to put things off because you don’t feel cold yet, but prevention is always better than cure. It takes a lot longer to warm up and dry out than it does to avoid getting cold and wet in the first place. So prepare your kit, wrap up warm and enjoy the winter!

Posted By

Jacob Thrall, Leeds Store


Jacob has been walking, climbing and travelling the world since he was a youngster – from North Yorkshire to the frozen North of Canada, from East Africa to Easter Island. Since 2002, he’s been talking and writing about kits for Cotswold Outdoor: in our Leeds Store, in the catalogue and on the web.