What to Wear
When it comes to dog sled rides, the key to enjoying your experience is dressing for the cold. Don't worry, we've got some helpful tips to keep you warm and comfortable during your adventure.
Layers, layers, and...more layers.
When adventuring into the cold it's best to be over prepared. If you are too warm, you can always take layers off; but you can't put on things you didn't bring with you!
Base layers "wick" perspiration away from your skin, which prevents you from feeling cold. Your base layer should be fitted and stay close to your skin without bunching up. Base layers can come in a variety of weights from "lightweight to "heavyweight" You should consider your activity level when selecting what weigh base layer to use. Higher activity levels do not require as heavy a fabric as low activities. Base layers come in a variety of fabric options from synthetics, like polyester, to natural fibers, such as wool and silk.
The Middle layer is for insulation. This layer helps trap the heat your body creates and keeps you warm. Generally, the thicker or "puffier" an item is, the warmer it will keep you. This layer can fit looser to the body and if you intend to wear multiple mid-layer objects, you may need to size up.
There are many options for mid layers, but here are the main options:
Polyester fleece: Available in many different weights, fleece is one of the more popular options for winter layers. Fleece will stay warm, even if it gets wet, and it dries quickly. While fleece breaths well, meaning you're less likely to overheat, it is also susceptible to allowing cold to come in if you are in windy conditions.
Wool: Unmatched in it's warmth and durability, wool clothing has been used by humans since 4000 BCE. Wool has the ability to retain 80% of it's insulating properties when wet. It is naturally moisture wicking, and is breathable. It tends to resist odor better than many synthetic options.
Down insulated jackets: Down offers more warmth per it's weight than any other insulating material. However, it loses all insulating ability when wet. Down is measured in fill power from 450 - 900.
Synthetic insulated jackets: Unlike down, synthetics retain insulating ability when damp, though it does not compress as well as down.
The outer layer helps protect you from wind rain and snow. It allows your mid-layer to do it's job of retaining your body heat. Outer layer clothing is sometimes referred to as the "outer shell". While you want your outer shell to keep wind and moisture out, you also want a shell that will allow moisture to escape. Otherwise moisture can get trapped inside your layers, causing you to feel damp and cold. Almost all shell jackets and pants are treated with water repellent to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.
Boots: Proper footwear is essential. You will want to wear a winter boot that is insulated and waterproof. We recommend a minimum of 400 grams of insulation in your boot and that you choose a boot that is 7 inches tall or taller. Consider purchasing a boot that is half a size, or even a full size, larger than what you normally wear. This will allow space for thicks socks to
When it comes to staying warm in Winter, do not skip out on these vitally important items.
Hats: While the myth that we lose 45% of our body heat through our head has been debunked, hats still play a vital role in keeping you warm in winter conditions. We recommend hats that are long enough to cover your ears and are snug enough to not blow off in the wind.
Gloves/Mittens: The cold can be dangerous, gloves and mittens are an important preventative measure that can help keep your hands warm and safe. For winter environments, you want to select gloves or mittens that are insulated, waterproof and breathable.
Gloves have space for individual fingers and are the best option if you will need the dexterity they offer.
Mittens are warmer than gloves, because your fingers are able to share warmth, but you lose the ability to use your fingers
Wearing thin glove liners underneath your outer gloves/mittens is also recommended. if you need to remove your gloves, the thin liner allows you to use full dexterity and prevents your fingers from becoming instantly chilled.
Scarves/neck gaiters: A scarf or a neck gaiter will help protect your face and neck from the cold winds. Try to select a fabric that is both warm and breathable. In extremely cold conditions, it is helpful to have a gaiter that is long enough to cover your nose and mouth in addition to your neck.
Socks: There's so many types and materials of socks on the market, it can be overwhelming. You will want to choose a material that will wick sweat and can get wet and still retain its ability to hold heat. You will also want to consider the height of your socks. Boot and over-the-calf lengths are popular winter sock lengths.
It is best to wear one thick pair of socks instead of layering several pairs of socks. Layering socks causes compression of the material, hindering its warmth trapping ability. Additionally, many layers of socks may compress blood vessels in your feet, preventing warm blood from circulating.
For our Fall Training Rides,we recommend heavyweight, full cushion wool socks. As during this ride you will be sitting and mostly inactive. For sled rides we recommend, a mid to heavyweight sock depending on how warm or cold your feet normally feel.
Sunglasses or goggles: Winter can be even more dangerous for your eyes than summer time. This is because the sun can reflect up to 85% of UV rays off of the snow, which can cause serious damage to the cornea of your eye. We recommend wearing sunglasses or goggles with UV rated protection.
What not to Wear
Almost as important as wearing the correct items is not wearing the wrong ones. Nothing can ruin your day quite as quickly as soggy gloves and cold toes. Read on to see our recommendations on what to leave out as you prepare for your winter trip.
Cotton: Cotton fabrics absorb sweat and lose their ability to retain heat when wet. In extreme cases, this can lead to hypothermia or frostbite.
Rain boots and sneakers: Rubber, non-insulated boots allow the cold to come right through, and will trap any moisture in the boot, making your feet wet. Sneakers are typically made with breathable mesh and will also allow cold air and water to pass through.
Bare hands: We have a lot of people that think they can "tough it out" riding on the sled with bare hands. At temperatures we experience, frostbite can begin on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes. Additionally, as your hands get colder, they begin to get numb, which may result in you no longer being able to hold on to the sled.
Our Musher's Favorites
We asked, "What's one winter clothing item you can't live without?"
"Good base layers or my Keen Summit County Boots."
"My 'Arctic' Steger Mukluks. They are really lightweight and my feet have never been cold, even when they got soaked."
"...I'd say probably a buff. So simple and small, but I definitely notice a huge difference with it and always regret when I don't have it. Good glove liners would be next...I can't function without them"
"Snow pants with bibs."