Take a walk on the cold side
Big and bundled are the keys to enjoying winter outdoors

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 05/99) - Take out the weather factor in outdoor adventure and all you have to do is make sure your privates are covered.

But in the North, particularly during winter, weather is always a critical consideration for wise people planning to enjoy the great frosty outdoors.

If you're thinking of spending any more time outdoors than it takes to get between heated environments, there is one rule you must adhere to -- one thing you must accept if you are to have any hope of keeping warm.

Forget fashion.

If you're properly dressed, your body will look three-times as wide as it actually is, and your feet three sizes bigger.

That's not an easy adjustment for some people. Those who routinely trade off comfort for fashion will try to fudge on this rule, going for a slick name-brand ski jacket instead of a parka, or a head band instead of a balaclava.

Which brings us to the second winter survival necessity -- parkas, or "parkies" as some call them.

Basically, a heavy down-filled parka is a hut that you wear. Don't leave home, or car, without one.

Parkas come with a hefty price tag, some checking in at over $500. Though it's money well spent, you may not have to spend that much. Keep your eyes peeled for a used one for about $200.

Beneath your parka, you will require a jacket or a couple of sweaters. It goes without saying that the first layer is long johns. Though a tunnel hood will often be enough to keep your face warm, take a scarf just in case you have to walk into the wind for extended periods of time.

Ski pants or wind pants are another component. Jeans and long johns will not suffice.

One bush whacker advised warmth starts at ground level.

"Keep your feet warm. I've got two sets of liners, and if I'm going to be outside all day I'll switch halfway through."

The buzzword for warm feet is big. Big boots with thick liners. New, they cost about $100, but people moving south have no need for boots that will keep their feet warm to -70 C, so keep your eye on the classifieds for a chance to save a buck.

Feet fall into the body part category known as extremities -- the parts that get extremely cold first. Hands are the other ones to worry about.

"You definitely have to wear mitts," said Ken Weaver of Weaver and Devore Trading Ltd. "Gloves aren't going to be suitable if you're going to be out for a while."

Those who have constantly cold feet and hands, even indoors, should consider disposable or stick burning hand and foot warmers.