Way back in 1974 Fjällräven founder, Åke Nordin, made a promise to himself. After miserably shivering his way through a snowstorm in northern Sweden, when temperatures plummeted to many degrees minus, Åke went home and set about creating the Expedition Down Jacket. He actually went so far as to sew two down jackets together, in such a way as to minimise cold air seeping in through the seams. Ever since then we’ve made sure our winter jackets do what you expect them to do: keep you warm. And over the years, working with outdoor experts and through the Fjällräven Polar dog-sled event, we’ve learned a thing or two about staying warm – beyond merely wearing a burly down jacket. Here are our five top tips for keeping the cold away.

1. Layer Up
Staying warm starts with a good base, preferably in wool and even better if it’s merino. This ultra-fine wool traps air between its fibres really effectively. So don’t be fooled by its thinness; just a slim layer of merino will help you feel warm and toasty. Once the base is sorted, continue to layer up with a middle layer that absorbs sweat (because it’s sweat that cools you down) – wool is great here too. Then an outer layer that blocks wind, rain and snow. Finish with a reinforcement layer in goose/duck down or synthetic down for when you’re sitting still or moving less quickly.

2. Don’t Get Hungry
When the temperature nosedives, your body has to work even harder to maintain your core 37°C body temperature. And this requires extra calories – lots of them. In fact, if you’re active in the winter your body could need around three times as many calories as during normal conditions. So we recommend staying satiated at all times, never letting your energy level dip. A good way to do this is to snack on nuts and dried fruit, peanut butter or Nutella – providing you with plenty of fat and sugar, i.e. energy. (They’re pretty tasty too.)

3. Don’t Get Thirsty
Water is even more important than food. If we have to, we can go without food for a few weeks. The same definitely cannot be said about water. Then we’re talking in days. Seeing as more than 60% of the human body is made up of water, you can guess at just how vital it is to survival. But it’s also important in heat regulation. So make sure you stay hydrated. We recommend sipping warm water at regular intervals. Big gulps and downing half a litre at a time mean you’re already on your way towards dehydration. And you definitely don’t want to go down that road in the cold.

4. Stay Dry
Obviously you’re not planning on jumping into frigid water (unless you’re from Sweden, Norway or Finland and a sauna is nearby). When we mean “stay dry”, we mean avoid sweating. Water conducts heat 25-30 times better than air and rapidly transports energy away from your body. So if you do feel warm when moving around, take off a layer (see tip 1). And if you can already feel beads of sweat on your back and under your arms, make sure you put on a layer as soon as you stop, don’t wait for your body to cool down. The sweat will whisk away your body heat and it’ll be hard to warm up again.

5. Keep Active
Seeing as tip 4 advises you to not sweat too much you do want to overdo it, but you can help maintain an even, constant core temperature by moving around. And don’t wait until you’re cold. Then it’s too late. Keep a steady temperature by walking, skiing, snowshoeing or even just doing some heads, shoulders, knees and toes.

 

Text: Sarah Benton