It's the middle of winter, and while it may seem like the last thing you want to do, getting outside can make the season much more fun -- or at least bearable. Stop hibernating and get out there! Reveling in some daylight sun on your face (make sure to wear sunblock of course) can buoy the spirit, so try a new winter sport like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, trailrunning or hiking.
Stepping outside midwinter doesn't have to be a cold, torturous experience; as long as you have the right gear, you can play outside and be comfortable too. The bonus is that when it's chilly out, even at popular parks you'll likely have the place to yourself, so you can really enjoy the natural world without a lot of distractions. Think of the things unique to winter; ice crunching under your feet, crisp air roseying your cheeks, and trees creaking in the quiet cold.
Start with a good base layer, choosing technical materials that will keep moisture away from your skin (whatever you do, DO NOT wear cotton underwear, which will make you feel cold and clammy). REI now carries performance underwear for both men and women that uses activated charcoal to wick moisture away from the skin's surface, controls odors and offers UV protection.
The North Face gets their charcoal from bamboo, while Marmot uses coconut husks. This technology has a much lower environmental impact than previous treatments, and according to the companies, will make for long underwear that keeps it's special properties longer. Make sure that both the bottoms and tops fit fairly close to your body; they shouldn't be skin-tight, but you want a slim cut. Women might want an extra layer; check out the Vista tank from Sierra Designs, which is part of their new Green Effect products program. The company also offsets all their energy use with wind credits to fight global warming.
Don't forget a good pair of socks! If your feet are happy while you're running around outside, you will be too. Try these Ecopoly socks from Teko, which are made from 77% recycled polyester and are specially designed to stay put on your foot so they won't ride up -- or down -- while you're out and about.
Depending on how cold it is, your next layers should be the ones keeping your core body warm. Try layering a fleece, like this one from Nike (made with recycled fabric) for women, or the recycled avalanche fleece from Google that's perfect for the techie-obsessed dude.
Layer with a vest next if you tend to get chilly easily so you can keep cozy. Guys can try the Patagonia Micro Puff Zip Vest, made of 90% recycled polyester on the outside, with a 50% recycled lining and recycled insulation too. Ladies will love the Hemp Hoodlamb Vest, made of a blend of super-tough hemp (a plant that grows easily without pesticides and herbicides) and organic cotton on the outside and fuzzy faux vegan 'rabbit' fur on the inside.
Finally, top your layers off with a waterproof and warm jacket and pants. The women's Nanuq jacket from Patagonia has a cute, sporty style, with 100% recycled polyester outer. For guys, also from Patagonia, the Micro Puff Hooded Jacket is made of a recycled exterior that is water- and wind-repellent and a recycled insulating layer.
To keep the butt warm, try these very stylish, waterproof hemp pants from Holden.
Stay on top of the snow with Crescent Moon's eco-friendly snowshoes; the company is now totally green, including wind power offsets for electricity used at their Boulder, Colorado headquarters, a rigorous company-wide recycling policy, and elimination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) materials throughout their line. PVC is one of the most toxic plastics ever produced, and both its production, use, and disposal contribute to the toxin loads all our bodies carry. Crescent Moon makes PVC-free snowshoes for men and women of all skill levels.
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