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How to Stay Warm

Updated on November 10, 2008


When it's really cold - 30 degrees fahrenheit or below, your first line of defense, after your own skin, is your clothes. Layers work best, and you can maximize their effect simply by putting them on in a certain order.

First, underwear and a polyester wicking tee shirt. Then, a pair of silk socks. Then, pull on a pair of polypropylene or silk long underwear bottoms. Now the tops of your socks are inside the legs of your long underwear bottoms and air can flow from your feet right up your legs and back again. Similarly, when you pull on your long underwear top, don't tuck it into the bottom. Let it overlap so rising warm air from your feet and legs can warm your torso. Last, put on a pair of Merano wool socks so your feet will be nice and toasty. As long as your feet are warm you will find it much easier to be completely warm. Now your base layer (really two layers in one) is complete.

Your next layer will depend on how cold it actually is. If you are indoors and trying to save money by keeping the temperature low, a pair of jeans and a wool sweater or polar fleece should suffice to keep you comfortable. If the floor is cold, put on an extra pair of socks or some slippers.

If it is very cold, say, zero degrees fahrenheit, and you are going outside, but only for a short while, for example, in and out of warm spaces, boots and a parka with a hood should do. If you plan to be outside for a long time, you need to make sure that every bit of your skin is covered. You can use a scarf or facemask to cover your face. You might add the loft of a down vest or a heavyweight polar fleece underneath your winter coat for added warmth.

Using the same layering ideas, you can use additional layers to insulate yourself from extreme cold. If you are going skiing for example, you can use insulated bib ski pants and a ski parka that are waterproof and windproof. You can wear a neoprene balaclava under a wool or acrylic hat and ski goggles to protect your eyes.

Mittens are warmer than gloves because your fingers can keep each other company. A thin wool or polypropalene glove worn inside the mitten is even better, and those thin gloves can be handy if you're cold indoors.


Getting into a cold bed can be unpleasant. A couple of techniques can help.

  1. First, of course, pajamas. When it's really cold, you can use a pair of long underwear. Socks can be helpful, too.
  2. Use a heating pad (or a dog) to warm up the bed before you get in.

I also use the technique shown at right. I call it the self hug. I don't know why it works, but when I do it I feel heat emanating from my hands and soon I've warmed up the whole bed. It works when camping, too.


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    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 9 years ago from United States

      What do they say in the movie, "The Matrix"? The human body generates 20,000 btu's of heat daily?

    • VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA profile image

      VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA 9 years ago from India.

      How to stay warm? Our own body is a heat generating machine. If kept idle, it will become obsolete. Continuous labour or physical exercise will keep our body warm.. but with minimum clothes and socks. There are other ways to generate heat... heater, sunbath. (General comment: Go with your wife anywhere.. it will be always warm).