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How to Stay Warm for Winter Sports

How to Stay Warm for Winter Sports

Gear Up and Stay in the Game During Winter

As the age-old Scandanavian saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. More and more outdoor enthusiasts are realizing that it’s not necessary to seek refuge inside the local gym to stay fit until the mercury scales upward. A frigid forecast can be overcome with the proper equipment to push your season longer or keep the fun rolling year-round.


As the sun begins to sweep lower across the sky, layers of fabric technology are waiting to be adorned or stashed into packs to protect your core temp from anything old man winter can brew up. There is a wonderful world of innovation to be found. Whether clicking across sites online or getting the low-down from a knowledgeable shop, the perfect under and outer armor is available to blow up any fair-weather excuse you can stick to.


Aerobic Sport Layering For Winter

Layers are the name of the game for cardio activities outdoors in winter. Managing body heat and moisture are key once the engine is running but those first few minutes can be a cold start. A synthetic, moisture-wicking base layer works to transport perspiration away from your skin. Worn under a stretchy fleece or a waterproof, wind-blocking shell, the varying thickness of base layers can be utilized to perfect your inner climate control. 


Consider outer shells that have a front-zip or ventilation in the underarm. Blowing off some of that heat will keep you comfortable for the long haul. For the legs, it’s a bit simpler. Depending on just how cold it is, leggings and tights worn under shorts or fleece pants are usually sufficient. 


Base Layer Top Picks

Check out the REI Co-op Lightweight for early winter running, biking, rowing, skiing and snowshoe outings. The polyester blend dries fast and with a sun-protecting 50+ UPF, you can rock it in the summer too. When looking for max warmth, the Helly Hansen Pro Lifa Seamless Half Zip features thermal mapping technology with a Merino wool exterior. A perfect mid-weight base layer or worn by itself in chilly conditions. 2XU Heat Compression Tights deliver leg warmth with brushed bamboo charcoal fabric and increase blood flow for better recovery.


Wind-Blocking Shell Top Picks

The Brooks Canopy Jacket is an inexpensive, breathable shell that blocks wind and rain. The packable Canopy Jacket is designed to stuff into its own chest zip pocket with a wearable elastic band. GORE-TEX technology will keep you protected from the rain and snow in the ARC’TERYX Women’s Norvan SL. The super-light, insulated Norvan is a great choice for the most challenging conditions.


Winter Protection for Sports in Extreme Elements

For surfers in northern latitudes, most of the best waves of the year arrive during winter. So, with ocean temps hovering in the 30’s and air temps often much colder, it takes serious gear to last in the lineup. Getting barrelled in a blizzard requires hardcore technology like Patagonia's R2 Hooded Full Suit. Featuring recycled materials and Yulex® natural rubber that is tapped from hevea trees, the R2 mirrors the brand's sustainability mission and is considered the warmest and most durable wetsuit available.


The dangerous conditions that mushers face in Alaska’s Iditarod race can be a matter of life or death. With temperatures -40f or below, these guys are not pulling jackets off the rack of a clearance outlet. Apocalypse Design in Fairbanks has been outfitting Alaskans since 1983 with gear that is made to be used in the planet’s toughest conditions. Their Alpine Parka was developed for a group of scientists doing work in Greenland and dog mushing the Iditarod. So safe to say, it has you covered on your next windy trip up the ski lift.


Outdoor sports are heating up the winter season. And now more than ever, the innovative gear to keep you out there is easily found. So zip-up, suit-up and hit the hills, trails, water, and frozen tundra. Because winter doesn’t last forever you know!

Snowshoe Running

Snowshoe Running

For cross-country and road runners who have discovered snowshoe running, winter is a time to rejoice. Every well-known trail, loop, and course becomes new again with the ever-changing challenge of a blanket of snow to lay tracks on. Although speed is considerably sacrificed, the exhilaration that comes with the heightened focus required for each snowy stride gives new meaning to a “runner’s high”.


Snowshoeing for Winter Cross-Training

There are many benefits to switching it up a bit and strapping on snowshoes in the off-season.

With the added exertion of negotiating foot placement in the uneven surface and wading through varying snow depths, even the most physically fit runner will feel the burn quickly. The miles may pass slower but an elevated heart rate comes at you much faster compared to running on solid ground. 


Because of the need for a higher leg lift, snowshoers engage more stabilizing and core muscles and build better overall leg strength. Running on snow is also a great way to prevent overuse issues or impact stress on joints and to recover from leg injuries. For snowboarders and skiers, it is a perfect strength-building activity to elevate fitness.


Getting Started with Snowshoe Running

The best advice is to take it slow at first. Forget about checking the time of your first mile. Day to day conditions are going to greatly affect speed, so just focus on the total amount of time spent running. If you are used to running 30 to 40 minutes, you might find that 20 minutes on the snow the first few times, to be more than enough.


Start somewhere like an athletic field or flat golf course. Find your groove on some hardpack trails that don’t require an exaggerated knee lift. Once you are comfortable with that, begin hopping off the beaten path and into the lung-busting deeper snow. Loopback onto the hardpack to bring your heart rate back down. Before long you will be breaking trail across fairways fresh with powder like a carefree Chocolate Lab chasing a stick.


The Snowshoe Race Scene

Perhaps you have no intention of taking an off-season for racing. Well, you are in luck. The United States Snowshoe Association is the governing body for snowshoe racing in the U.S. and promotes regional races as qualifiers for the National Championship each year. Local races can also be found at many snow resorts and Dion Snowshoes posts a race calendar for the Northeast region of the U.S. 


If strength in numbers helps to motivate you, look for meet-up groups like the Donner Party Mountain Runners in North Lake Tahoe, or the Saratoga Stryders in Sarasota Springs, NY.


However you get into snowshoe running, taking advantage of the change of seasons will and running on snow will certainly benefit your fitness and reinvigorate your love of running. 






What is Fat Tire Biking?

What is Fat Tire Biking?

 

Fat Tire Bikes have been trending onto trails and beaches over the last decade and for good reason. The eye-catching chunky profile of fat bikes have that off-the-grid look of being capable of dropping lunar craters on the next SpaceX mission. But it’s the blimpy, over-sized rover tires that open up all seasons for riding, with the ability to tackle terrain and conditions like snow, sand and mud, that a standard mountain bike tire cannot handle. 


As far back as the late 1980s, Fat Tire Bikes prototypes were being hammered out in garages and basements to conquer the infamous 1000 mile Iditarod Trail in Alaska. Early incarnations were basically multiple rims welded together to achieve a wider base to avoid sinking in the snow. Today, nearly every major bike manufacturer offers a fattie variety for floating through the muck of shoulder seasons, grinding along snowmobile trails, exploring long beaches or even just providing a more stable experience for beginners.


Fat Bike’s Favorite Season

The first flakes of snow are no longer a bummer for riders who religiously rip the trails in Spring, 

Summer and Fall. Like runners who transition to snowshoes to stomp through the new carpet of white to get the miles in, mountain bikers now utilize Fat Bike’s original intention to stay saddled up all year long. As the old Scandinavian saying goes, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing”, so it is with bikes. Conditions no longer dictate to ride or not to ride. The devoted dirt junkie has it covered and is happy to sacrifice the speed of hardpack singletrack for a spin in the high gears in a winter wonderland.


Low country and coastal dwellers have also discovered Fat Bikes for new access to miles and miles of sandy beaches that were once best enjoyed for running and shell collecting saunters. Now the summertime footprints are accompanied by tire tracks that are laid down by early morning and evening riders whose idea of beach time is no longer sitting by the ocean in a chair. In the colder months, the beach provides a quick heart-rate boosting session on flat land for triathletes and exercise routines.


Selecting a Fat Tire Bike

There are bikes for nearly every budget to get you after it. You don’t need to be fat in the wallet to enjoy Fat Tire biking. Diamondback El Oso Uno Hardtail Fat Bike ($850) is a quality ride with features like sealed cartridge bearings and a rust-resistant chain. 

 

But for the more hardcore set that fancies the notion of having a bike that is equivalent to the value of their old Subaru wagon, the Specialized Fat Boy Carbon ($2,950) is the one. Specialized claims that if it’s part of Mother Earth, the Fat Boy will roll right over it with unrivaled comfort and traction. 


That’s cool and all but really just one small step for man. Who is going to build one that fulfills the giant leap for mankind?