It's January in the midwest, and that typically means one thing: COLD.
I love all four of our seasons here in the midwest, even winter. Some people think I'm crazy, but I thoroughly enjoy the stark beauty of a snow-covered landscape, the crisp air turning your cheeks rosy, and coming inside to snuggle up with blankets, soup, and hot drinks.
But I will admit, it's not always an easy season to dress for.
Being something of a tomboy, I am the mindset comfort over fashion about 95% of the time. This rule bumps up to 100% in the winter, and as I listen to a number of folks in my social network whine & complain over the cold, snowy weather, I can't help but wonder if they would be more content if they were more appropriately dressed.
Still, that can be easier said than done. It has taken me years to find cold weather gear that meets all of my expectations, which are rather high. For starters, I tend to have a hot core and cold extremities. So if I'm taking the pup for an outing at the snow-covered dog park and air temps are below zero, more than likely I'd be coming home without feeling in my toes & fingers, my thighs completely frozen, and my midsection sweating profusely.
But this 2015-2016 winter season I feel like I've finally cracked the impossible nut of winter gear, and almost completely on accident at that. I made all five of these purchases in late 2015, and they have all been godsends.
1. Carhartt Storm Defender Elmira Jacket
Boy did I strike gold when I found this baby! She's waterproof, windproof (including the zippers, seams, and sleeves), - both of which I can personally attest to - AND she's got neat little thumbhole sleeves that are attached at just far enough back at the wrist openings so you can still wear gloves over them. This coat does an AMAZING job of keeping me warm and dry without overheating me, as the material is still somehow miraculously breathable.
Carhartt Women's Elmira Insulated Nylon Jacket - $99.99-$180.99 at Amazon.com.
2. Duluth Trading Company Fleece-Lined Firehose Pants
I stumbled upon these awesome pants while I was wandering around a Duluth Trading Company the last time we paid our friends in Minneapolis a visit. My first thought was, "oh my god these would be perfect for me." One well done Christmas present from my man later and I was proven right. The material the pants themselves are made of is like a thick canvas, really tough and durable with lots of handy pockets. And the inside is the softest, most comfy fleece you can imagine. It's like having a little warm cloud around your legs, without the bulky swoosh-ing of snow pants.
Duluth Trading Company Fleece-Lined Firehose Pants - $74.50 at Duluthtrading.com
3. Under Armour Coldgear Infrared EVO Base Layer Pants
These are the very first pair I've ever had that actually keep me warmer. They're supposed to have some kind of fancy-schmancy infrared technology to retain body heat as well as the ability to wick any moisture away, both of which have held true as far as I can tell. The fit is also perfect, not coming halfway up my stomach but not causing plumber's crack either. They're just the right amount of fitted and stay put while their semi-silky composition makes them easy to slip all varieties of pants over.
Not to mention, they come in an oh-so-cool Realtree print (what can I say, I'm a sucker for camo).
Under Armour Women's ColdGear Infrared EVO Base Layer Pants - $56.99-$74.95 at Amazon.com
4. Sorel Women's Glacy Explorer Boots
All I ever wanted was a knee-high boot (because seriously, can somebody please explain to me how an ankle boot can be effective at keeping out snow?!) that was warm, waterproof, and didn't weight 500 pounds. Is that really so much to ask?
For a long time, it seemed to be.
And then this year, after a massive amount of research on the net and endless product reviews, I took a gamble and ordered myself a pair of the sort-of-moon-boot-looking Sorel Glacys.
Finally, the search is over.
These are everything I was looking for, not to mention they're comfortable and lightly lined inside with soft, warm fleece. The laces are more for decoration that function, but the boots do have a cinch around the top opening. I also love the thick soles, which do wonders at keeping feet up off of the cold ground and, therefore, much warmer.
A note, the boots do tend to run a little on the large side. I typically wear an 8.5-9 in boots, and when I ordered these in a 9 they were still pretty roomy. However, I read that snow boots are supposed to run big, as the extra air inside helps to keep your feet warm. Turns out, they were quite right about that (not to mention it leaves plenty of room for the warm boots socks I'll talk about next).
Sorel Women's Glacy Explorer Snow Boot - $105-$159 at Amazon.com
5. Heat Holders Thermal Socks
Socks are pretty tough for me because I can't wear wool. So I'd been looking for a couple weeks without finding anything remotely close to a possibility when my mate came across these at a Big R (think rural Kmart, but way better). They were sooooo fuzzy inside, I had to give 'em a try.
Boy am I glad I did. They're amazing. No more cold tootsies for me!
Heat Holders Thermal Socks, Women's Original - $15.99 at Amazon.com
**The prices listed are what they were at the time of the post and are subject to change!**
For all of you struggling to stay warm through the winters of cold climates out there, I hope some or all of the stuff on my list will help keep you toasty & smiling!