Clothing For Cold Weather

Winter camping calls for clothing that protects you from the cold and wind, while holding in body heat and allowing ventilation.

Several thin layers vs one big heavy layer. This layering allows for flexibility in varying conditions AND heat captured at several places.

Three types of clothing


Fit snuggly
Wick sweat away from body
Wool, silk, synthetics


Trap heat
Thickness == more insulation
Wool, fleece, pile, down


Protect other layers from water/wind
Plastic, rubber, coated nylon, 60/40 cloth, Gortex


A. Socks
Wear a wicking sock (liner) next to your foot. Polypropylene liner socks, silk socks and even nylon stockings work well. An insulating sock should be placed over this wicking or liner sock.
The best insulating socks are wool or a wool blend. NEVER USE COTTON!! Cotton soaks up water, looses all insulating qualities, stays wet, and makes your feet cold.
B. Long Underwear
Use long underwear made from a wicking material such as polypropylene. Polypropylene long underwear comes in light, medium and expedition weight. Never use cotton!!

C. Pants
Good, loose fitting wool pants are the best for insulation. Inexpensive wool pants can be found at Army Surplus stores, and used clothing stores. Use suspenders to hold them up. Ski bibs also work for keeping you warm. Blue Jeans are completely useless on winter campouts! (Of courseā€¦ they're made of cotton!)

D. Upper Body Protection
Use layers consisting of a turtleneck, shirt, sweater, vest and jacket. Make sure items fit together comfortably and are not restricting. Correct layering captures heat in the air spaces between the layers.

E. Hand Protection
Mittens are warmer than gloves. Gloves are more useful when you have work to do, so bring both. Don't forget extras, your mittens and gloves WILL get wet.

F. Neck Protection
Be sure that you have either a scarf or neck gaiter to protect your throat and neck areas.

G. Head Gear
A warm hat will help you minimize the heat loss from your head. Radiation of heat from an covered head can account for 50% to 75% of total heat loss. Remember the old maxim: "When your feet are cold, put on a hat."

H. Footwear
Waterproof. Have lots of extra socks!!
Gaiters — a tube of material which covers the gap between your pants and boots to keep the snow from getting in your boots.

Use the letters C-O-L-D to remember the keys to staying warm:

Clean - Keep yourself and your clothes clean. Dirt and body oils that build up on clothing destroy its insulating qualities

Overheating - Avoid overheating. Avoid wearing clothing that cannot be removed in layers as needed.

Layers - Your clothing system should be designed so layers can be added or taken off. Proper layering helps to maintain even body heat. Layers should be loose fitting.

Dry - Keep dry. Wet clothing removes heat 200 times faster than it will dissipate through dry
clothing. Wet cloth mean trouble.

Remember this key: "C-O-L-D will help you learn the techniques to keep warm!"

Dress for warmth — 5 ways to lose heat

  1. Respiration — need to breath, but breathing through nose will led to less heat loss
  2. Evaporation — as water evaporates, it takes heat. Control heat in clothing to prevent sweating->wetness->evaporation->coldness
  3. Conduction — heat leaking from warm area (you and your clothing) to cold area (outside). Proper insulation and waterproof shell
  4. Radiation — coover all your skin
  5. Convection — warm area being blown away — proper shell


Always bring spares — nothing is worse than having wet clothing without replacements!!!

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