I never thought I would take on a job that has me going outside in a Canadian winter. I am one of those people that gets cold really easily and until recently, I didn’t believe that it was possible for me to dress for this weather and be comfortable. But once we started farming, I knew that as much as my family understands my temperature regulation issues there was no way they would be okay with me passing on my chores to someone else for 3 months of the year because it was too cold for me outside. Instead, I had to figure out how to stay warm. That meant a close look at my winter clothing.
They did give me a head start – I got a battery-powered heated jacket for Christmas a few years ago. Many of the remaining items were found relatively easily once I learned how to layer, and once I narrowed the selection down to brands with workwear lines for women. The only item that took a bit more time to figure out was the base layer. The trick is to not actually look for “base layers”. Instead, you are looking for thermal long underwear which is primarily designed to provide warmth. I have done the best with ones designed for long periods of inactivity outdoors in cold weather, such as duck hunting.
After I figured out the clothing, I turned to the accessories. Right now, I have a fake fur aviator (the style with ear flaps) that is the warmest hat I own. When I combine it with a fleece balaclava and a wool neck warmer, I can handle the coldest days. A shearling aviator (made in Canada) is on my wish list. And of course, the wool hats I have knitted and that my mom lined with fleece are good enough most days.
I am still looking for comfortable, warm socks that last. I often have to double layer and I am discouraged by socks deteriorating in less than a year. And mitts are definitely an area in which I am still searching for a warm enough pair. I prefer mitts that are washable which means leather ones are out. Gloves never work as my fingers freeze. Any mitt recommendations?
In case it is helpful to you, here is my current winter wear:
· Under Armour Base 3.0 Leggings & Shirt (base layer)
· REI Co-op Teton Fleece Pants 2.0 (mid layer)
· Fjällräven Stina Fleece Sweater (mid layer)
· Wool sweater (extra mid layer)
· Dakota Thermalectric Rechargeable Heated Jacket (extra mid layer) for the -40 temps
· Carhartt Yukon Extremes Insulated Coverall (outer layer)
· Dryshod Women’s Arctic Storm Winter Work Boots
· Stormy Kromer Northwoods Trapper Hat
· Stormy Kromer wool neck warmers
Extras – Mitt and Boot dryer. This is one of those things that I am shocked I lived without. I use it constantly now. A must.
Image: Gwen feeding Brienne and Peanut. Image by Brody.