February has begun with some pretty chilly weather across Utah with below-freezing temperatures in Cedar City and even lower in the canyon. However, this does not mean the weekend must be without adventure. With the proper preparation, the outdoors can be enjoyed even in the cold.
The essential step for staying warm when enjoying the outdoors in winter weather is layering up correctly. Equipping the right sequence of layers not only will insulate your body with warmth but will ideally keep moisture away from it.
When you move around on your adventure you will sweat, which in turn will cool down or freeze, rendering you very cold and very uncomfortable. A quality bottom-layer, called a thermal layer, should be lightweight and made of a fabric that will not absorb too much moisture, such as silk, nylon or polyester. Avoid cotton for this layer.
Your next layer should be your insulating layer. A heavier material such as fleece works well for this, but down-insulated clothing works particularly well for this layer. These are quilted, puffy articles stuffed with feathers which allow for excellent insulation and retention of heat.
To maintain your warmth you must stay dry. For your last layer, consider something that can act as a waterproof, wind-breaking defense. This outer shell will protect you from the elements and make sure your inner layers maintain their warmth.
As weather and body temperatures change, you can also remove and add layers accordingly. It is better to be too prepared than not prepared enough.
Wear adequate footwear
With your upper body layered well, it is crucial not to forget about your feet. Keeping them warm and dry is just as vital to your enjoyment and safety.
Make sure to wear durable, waterproof boots that will keep out any moisture and provide traction on slippery areas. A double layer of socks can also help keep your feet warm and dry by utilizing an inner layer of nylon and an outer layer of wool.
Certain conditions will demand that you also bring along traction devices such as micro spikes that you can attach to your boots when necessary.
As always, before embarking on an adventure it is prudent to check the weather and other conditions for where you will be.
Canyon roads can be hazardous in winter weather and often will require four-wheel drive or tire chains. When venturing into mountainous and backcountry territories, check for the risk of avalanches and carry protective devices such as beacons.
Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return, and remember to enjoy your adventure!
Article and Photos by: Jared Clawson