In Northern Michigan, winter recreation is a common pastime. It helps with the winter blues and makes the long, cold winter tolerable. We have immense opportunities for cross country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and many other year-round activities like running and biking. Exploring the outdoors is fun but can sometimes be uncomfortable if you don’t dress properly or bring the right things. Here are some tips on how to have fun outside during the winter and be comfortable!
First and foremost, layering is the most important tip to staying warm. Layering allows you to take off layers if you are too warm or add more if you are too cold. Of course, what you wear will depend on the activity you are doing, but generally a three-layer system is suggested. With three layers, the inner-most layer should be moisture wicking, moving sweat away from your body. This inner layer is incredibly important because you do not want sweat to be trapped against your skin, making you even colder. The middle layer should insulate and absorb the moisture. The outermost layer should be a shell to protect you from the wind.
Another important piece of being comfortable while recreating during winter is keeping your extremities warm! Make sure to wear gloves/mittens and warm socks (I like wool) and cover your head with a hat or ears with a headband/earmuffs. Mittens actually keep your hands warmer, and you can also purchase liners to wear under your outer mitten/glove that will trap heat. Wear water-proof boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Gaiters, which wrap around the top of your boot preventing snow from getting in and trap heat, will also help keep your feet comfortable.
Finally, what you bring with you while winter recreating can also keep you comfortable. Be prepared! Take water to keep you hydrated and food to replenish your energy (amount depending on how long you will be out). A basic first-aid kit can help in the event of an injury, and if you are recreating in the dark, a headlamp (and extra batteries) can ensure you are able to see where you are going. A compass could also be useful, especially if you are thinking about venturing off trail.
Finally, get outside and enjoy the beautiful place we live. Whether you go hiking at Cedar River Natural Area, biking at Glacial Hills, cross-country skiing at Grass River, or downhill skiing at Shanty Creek, Antrim Conservation District hopes you have a wonderful and comfortable winter season!