Choose the right equipment for winter sports
A Get Out There campaign, celebrating making the most of outdoor sports and activities, has been launched. This blog is brought to you as part of the campaign.
While the days are shorter, darker, colder and generally a bit damper, it doesn’t mean you have to put your favourite outdoors sports or hobbies on hold. As long as you make the necessary changes in your equipment ready for protection from the weather, you can continue to enjoy watersports, cycling or camping. Read on for advice about preparation, clothing and gear that will you keep you warm, dry and comfortable while you’re out and about making the most of the outdoors this Winter.
Depending on the physical demands of your watersport, whether it’s a dinghy, sailing boat, or board, you’ll need to look into varying layers of protection from both the chill and the cold water.
For sailing, a drysuit will keep you dry, but not warm. Although it will protect your body from the cold water, it won’t protect it from wind. Therefore, you need to layer up with thin thermal base layers such as rash vests and leggings. Ultimately, however, if you’re working harder in your boat, you will need less layers so take into account the physical demands of your sport, and whether or not a thick drysuit will restrict your movement.
For surfers, choose a thicker winter-specific wetsuit that often comes with additional layers and a neoprene hood. Rash guards are also necessary to avoid friction and provide an extra layer. You can also choose a fleece rash guard, which can also be bought with a hood.
Boots and gloves are also necessary parts of winter watersports to protect those parts of you that become coldest quickest. Winter-specific gloves often come with fleece inners and a durable, waterproof outer with added grip to make up for the loss of control that comes with no longer using your bare hands. Make sure gloves and boots fit tightly at the ankles and wrists to prevent water entering – and if you wear a wetsuit or drysuit, tuck your boots underneath the legs.
For cycling in winter, layers are again the priority to keep you protected from the chill. Thin, multiple layers allow you to take off or add them as you need to. For your base layer, choose a breathable fabric. Cotton will not be efficient in keeping you warm, as although it will soak up any sweat, it will also hold it in which will not help to keep you warm. Ideally you need a fabric which will wick the moisture away, such as merino or yak wool.
After a base layer, you can add a jersey for extra thickness and then an outer shell for waterproofing and windproofing. As well as the upper layers, you can wear cycling tights with fleece lining over your shorts for extra warmth, and some insulated socks can come in handy to protect feet. Windproof gloves and a hat or skullcap under your helmet are also ideal for keeping your extremities covered.
Your bike itself may also need some extra accessories for the colder months. Front and rear lights are necessary for road cycling due to the darker conditions. Also consider mudguards to prevent slush and dirt from being kicked up from your tyres.
For camping in the cold, you’ll need extra clothing and specific equipment that summer camping might not require. Take a look at the joys of winter camping blog. The weather can present challenges that you might not be expecting, so planning ahead is crucial, including informing others of your plans in case anything goes wrong, packing extra food supplies and carrying some emergency cash. First-aid and repair kits are also necessary, as well as lighting and spare batteries.
For your camping gear itself, you need to protect from the ground up with a ground cloth to prevent moisture soaking into the tent. Mountaineering tents are thicker and better to deal with winds due to their extra-strong poles and shape, so they make a good choice for winter camping. When in the tent, sleeping pads for underneath your sleeping bag makes an extra layer away from the cold, as well as increasing comfort on hard, potentially frosty ground. A sleeping bag with insulation (usually goose down or a synthetic, manmade fibre) can also be padded out with a sleeping bag liner if necessary to provide another layer of insulation.
With winter-specific camping equipment comes the need for winter-specific clothing. Just as layers are crucial for your tent and sleeping bag structure, they are also ideal for your clothing. A base thermal layer, topped with a thicker fleece mid-layer is perfect for building up warmth. Top this with a waterproof shell or waterproof jacket for protection from moisture and the cold. Insulated boots with thick socks are also crucial if you will be trudging through snow, slush or wet terrain.
For hats and gloves, take multiple of each in case they get wet. If you aren’t walking or working around your campsite, consider adding a layer of clothing to avoid your body getting too cold during your rest period, otherwise it will have to work extra hard to warm up again
This blog is part of Indespension’s Get Out There campaign, celebrating making the most of outdoor sports and activities.