NOTE: This content originally appeared on Ben’s site NYOutside.com
Yup, it’s cold out. We know. Get over it. This is Upstate New York after all; our cities get more snowfall than any others in the United States. Cold and snow doesn’t mean you have to be stuck inside! With the right gear, the right friends and the right knowledge, winter can be one of the best seasons of the year! It’s uniquely beautiful, challenging, and nothing is quite as calm and peaceful as newly fallen snow deep in the woods.
A short while back we asked our readers what their favorite winter tips, tricks and gear were. What do folks swear by outside in the cold temps? What advice would they offer to ensure safety outdoors in the snow?
Well, y’all came through! And then some. Listed below is what you said. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s not a survival guide. But we think you’ll enjoy hearing what your fellow outdoorsmen/women had to say; enjoy! Thanks to everyone who contributed; we invite you all to come join us outdoors during the next few months of winter!
HEADWEAR & CLOTHING
– I love Ibex outdoor clothing (wool). Their wool is mostly made in USA and Canada and is great for breathability, layering and resisting odors.
– I feel like people tend to overdress. If you keep your core warm the rest of you will be warm as you exert energy. When I dress, if I am warm inside than I know that I will be too hot outside running (I wear shorts until sub 30 degrees but keep head and hands protected). Arm sleeves are nice too. They are easy to slide down as I warm up (my arms take a long time to get comfortable in the cold).
– A Buff! Can be anything from a hat to a neck warmer to a ski mask in sub-zero weather. Totally versatile.
– Convertible mittens that you can either put over your fingers or fold back and tuck into a packet on the glove. A must have!!!
– Dress for the 2nd half of the run, not the first half. Helps to keep from over-dressing.
– If you’re on a tight budget, the Champion C9 Collection carried by Target offers really rock solid gear at very reasonable prices.
– Best tip I ever got is to get dressed for 20 degrees warmer than the actual temp. Good rule-of-thumb. Works every time!
– A headband to cover my ears. Or any ear covers that you can easily flip up if you get too warm.
– I do the cheap thing – wear a pair of cheap pantyhose under my running pants to keep warm.
– I’m a big, big fan of Craft shirts. On most cold days I can get away with a Craft and then a little lighter or heavier jacket depending on the temps.
– I will sometimes run with a neck warmer that I can pull over my face for a few seconds once in a while- just to regain feeling in the lower half of my face.
– For gloves get one of those cheap three packs of stretchy gloves from Target. For all but the coldest days they are plenty warm, and because they’re cheap if you drop one it isn’t a big deal. I can’t tell you how many single runner gloves I have at $20-40 for the pair?!?! Not any more.
– Simply put, Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover is the single item I use through winter (spring and fall also). Warm, breathable, light durable (I’ve had mine for over 10 years!). Great base layer under a shell or worn by itself on less windy days. Expensive? Sure, but you’ll get years of use out of it and you’ve got to love Patagonia’s warranty, labor practices and philanthropic efforts. I can’t speak highly enough this item. So versatile.
– I like the Amphipod Xinglet for road running. Especially in winter. Goes over everything and is super bright. It also has a pocket to hold phone, keys, ID, etc.
– Hand warmers!
– I thought that Columbia’s Omni-Heat was all hype until I tried it. Now it’s the base layer I absolutely swear by. Awesome stuff!
– I have a Nike Clima-FIT Convertible Jacket that I love. Temperatures can warm into upper 30’s. I can take the sleeves off and pack them into the vest pockets.
– Guys, do yourselves a favor and get a Wind Brief. Nothing is quite so excrutiating as thawing out the family jewels. Trust me.
– It’s not a necessity, but for hydration packs sometimes having an insulated tube (like the Platypus Insulator) helps – I tend to drink less often when it’s cold, and I’ve seen water freeze in the tubes.
– Make sure your water bottles unscrew easily for the times when the spout freezes with your drink.
– The hose on one’s Camelbaks, hydration packs, etc. can freeze easily in the cold temps. One great trick is to blow air back through the hose (until the water in the pack bubbles). This will clear out most of the water in the tube and prevent freezing. If the hose does freeze, tucking it down inside your jacket should thaw it out fairly quickly.
FOOTWEAR & TRACTION
– Waterproof running shoes (Goretex or OutDry), may be terrible the rest of the year, but they’re essential in winter. I used the Montrail Mountain Masochist OutDry last year. Pretty good traction on snow even without added traction gear, and my feet were warm and dry on almost every run. Also, calf length, medium to light weight hiking socks, not the little shorty running socks. EMS makes a good, not too thick, not too thin, pair.
– I have hard-to-fit feet and give kudos to the Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) crew for working with me on two different store visits until I had a perfect fitting hiker. Don’t hike with poor fitting shoes!
– Always have a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes in your pack, as conditions change be prepared and stay upright. And a working headlamp with spare batteries. (Mort Nace)
– Micro Spikes for fresh or packed snow. Sheet metal screws for ice. I don’t use waterproof shoes though, instead relying on my favorite socks, Drymax – feet never feel wet or cold. I just wear heavier ones in winter for the extra warmth. (Paul Roberts)
– Wool socks are simply a must.
– Merino-Wool X-Country ski socks that are thin around the feet yet thick up the calf.
– Scree gaiters if it’s sloppy.
– I love my YakTraxs for running. They easily work for whatever shoe you’re using, easy to get off if the conditions change, and I’ve never slipped with them.
OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF
– Pelican i1015 iPhone case. Perfect for snowboarding, snowmobiling,etc (Phil Oettinger)
– If you don’t want your phone or stored back up batteries to die in the cold – throw a hand warmer in the place you store them. For me – phone in chest pocket – hand warmer tossed in = normal battery life in cold conditions.
– Wear sunscreen, seriously. (Learned that one the hard way.)
– Worried about frostbite? If your fingers are cold and hurt than you’re doing ok. If they’re numb? Than you’ve got a problem.
– Have a change of clothing for after events… A no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think of this.
– Trail emergencies (i.e. – broken ankle) can have dire consequences in the winter. A lighter, a chunk of fire starter log, and an emergency ‘space’ blanket can become a lifeline in an unanticipated backcountry emergency. Weighs next to nothing and doesn’t take up much room in your pocket.
– Best way to use the facilities in the winter? Wait until you REALLY have to go and than make sure you’re out of the wind behind a tree or brush.
– LIGHTS!! Most people have to run in the dark at this time of year! Invest in a good headlamp.
– Lightweight, telescoping backcountry poles are great for powdering winter trail running, climbing, snowshoeing and the like. Plus they’re versatile and can be used in a pinch to rig a shelter, etc.
– Whiskey… with or without hot cider.
– Hide under the warm covers and go back to sleep.
Cover Image: Snowshoe and Bonfire by Mt Hood Territory. Flickr. Used by permission under Creative Commons License.
Intro: When we launched TrailsRoc we were excited and were tweeting a lot to get our name out. It did not take long before we came across the crew from Sole Spikes and began talking about their Sole Spikes. After a few communications it became clear our group was interested in trying these spikes out and spreading the word.
Read Eric’s review below and you can check out Ben’s review here. In both, you will see that we were impressed.
Some details: We received the Goat Head Combo Pack quickly in the mail with a nice note. According to the Goat Head web site “The Goat Head Combo Pack is a great way to start your journey with Sole Spikes™. The combo pack includes one cup of Sole Spikes™ and also a Sole Driver™ handle. Get you Goat Head Combo Pack today!”
In other words you got your container of sole spikes, you got a driver, and you have an easy way to install them. The idea with Sole Spikes is that you won’t have to worry about spending big money on slip on spikes or yaxtrax. These screw in to the bottom of your shoe and grip ice, snow, mud, and river beds. Basically they turn your current favorite outdoor shoe into a better gripping better performing outdoor shoe. Perfect for hunters, ice fishers, runners, hikers, or as they put it, ”anyone who doesn’t like to slip and fall”
I loaded these onto my very minimal New Balance mt101 trail shoes and found they fit perfectly. Then I went out and tackled some technical trails at Durand Eastman Park.
Installing them was a breeze. Using the driver, the Sole Spikes just went right in. I even took them out and put them back in to see what kind of damage they did. They didn’t leave damage that was of any concern even in such a minimal shoe.
The grip. One downside to running in very minimal trail shoes is that they often offer limited traction when the trails get really muddy, or really icy. I have trouble with microspikes as well because with minimal shoes, I can really feel the spikes under my feet and they do tend to clog up with snow and mud.The solution here is Sole Spikes.
Do not hinder movement. They leave my minimal shoes as they are. Minimal. They add no noticeable weight. They do not restrict my foot movement with any straps or rubber band settings. Microspikes and yaxtrax often leave me with a “straight forward” feeling. In other words, if I am going straight I am fine, but tight wavy turns or twists like the one below, they shift or the foot jams in an unsafe position due to longer spikes. The Sole Spikes allow your foot to be natural. It allows you to attack these turns with confidence.
Easy to replace. If you lost a spike or want to add more to other shoes they are affordable and easy to attach. If your yax or microspikes. If you break a yax or micro, you have to send them back, and chances are you are not going to break a steel forged spike. I dragged them along some dirt and rock sections and the spikes stayed put.
Room for improvement : The only room for improvement that I see is that the “Sole Driver” does not fit in the cup which kind of stinks because that makes it a bit easier to get seperated from the spikes. I like things that are in essence “all in one”, if the cup was a bit taller, the driver would fit and everything would always be together, and never lost.
Overall: I am impressed. I never lost my footing, I gained confidence on downhills and I gained a ton of traction on the up hills and I was able to attack the turns. I ran 8 miles and never once “felt” the screws under my feet. They pretty much turned my all time favorite trail shoe into an ALL time favorite trail shoe. A subtle, yet important difference to me.
I would suggest Sole Spikes for anyone who wants the grip without the slip. It won’t kill your budget like microspikes might and the only time you will notice that you are wearing them is when you are charging up hills or over ice without slipping.
The TrailsROC crew will be running a giveaway at one of our trail event days in the near future. If you value your grip on the trails as much as we do stay tuned for details and join us out on the trails
***** Opinions are the content of RocTheRun– Sole Spikes did supply the product free of charge ******