In addition to jackets and pants, it’s important to consider your hands, feet, and head in terms of gloves, socks, and winter hats. Your extremities will be the first things to get cold so it’s important to keep them warm. Based on your activities and the weather you will need to have either gloves or mittens with cords that can be rapped around your arm. Gloves allow full use of your fingers while mittens provide the most warmth. Most gloves and mittens have a drawstring that can be attached to your forearm so that the wind doesn’t carry them away, and they can hang by your side if you take them off for a moment. Socks are important in keeping your feet warm by providing insulation but also allowing moisture to wick away from your skin. Most people use a synthetic wool material that dries quickly but provides warmth.
In terms of hats, most people know that 50% percent of your body heat escapes through your head. Therefore, it is important to keep your head covered to retain heat but not get too hot. Typically, a person can regulate their body temperature just by simply taking on and off a hat. For maximum comfort most people wear a thin synthetic stocking cap that can be pulled down over the ears. Once again, this retains heat but allows moisture to escape if you start sweating. Hats are typically just for keeping you warm as most winter jackets have hoods that can be pulled to keep snow out.
In addition to the various clothing mentioned, it is also important to consider other winter items such as gaiters, balaclavas, goggles, or sunglasses. Gaiters are worn around the base of the legs and attach to the bottom of your shoes to keep snow out when you are walking. Balaclavas fit over your head and extend to the base of the neck with an opening around your face to provide maximum coverage of your head and neck. Goggles and sunglasses are important to shield your eyes from sun glare off the snow and also cold wind blowing into your eyes. With any eye protection it is important to have optimum UV protection based on the bright glare of the snow.
Quality tents are typically rated as “three season” or “four season” depending on their construction and ability to withstand the elements. For winter camping it is essential to have a true four-season tent, unless you are camping during a warm spell or live in a mild winter climate.
The critical aspects of the four-season tent are the abilities to withstand snow loads, wind, and allow condensation to escape. During the winter it’s not uncommon to wake up to fresh snow on your tent or potentially experience harsh winter winds. You need a tent that is going to stand up to the test and keep you protected in your shelter.