Surviving the deep freeze

For those in Minneapolis, Denver, New York, Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, Buffalo and many others, winter is no joke. Not only are subzero wind chills uncomfortable, but also they can also kill you. Venturing outside can feel like walking on the moon, requiring a spacesuit to survive.

At the same time it's puzzling how many people have no idea how to dress for it. There'll be snow drifts eight feet high, gale force winds and bitter cold, and these poor saps are wet and shivering in sneakers and a leather jacket.

Base layers

So few people know about base layers. These disappear under your trousers keeping you warm and toasty on your bottom half, and no nobody's the wiser. SmartWool makes them of warm breathable merino. Ones with a lighter heft are still comfortable indoors. Save the beefy pair for when it's -40 and there's a driveway to shovel.

Boots

Good boots are also essential, as anyone whose toes have gone numb can attest. The Canadians know a thing or two about cold weather, and their Kamik boots can't be beat. A waterproof shell houses a thick felt liner, and there's a drawstring at the top for keeping out the slush.

 
Kamik Men's Hunter boot - super warm and waterproof - and at less than $40, a steal

Kamik Men's Hunter boot - super warm and waterproof - and at less than $40, a steal

 

Coats

As for coats, those with a thin liner or no liner at all just won't work. Insulation's essential and down's the best natural insulator. We're partial to The North Face's Nuptse jacket, stuffed with a gaggle of goose down yet also easily compressible and packable. This Michelin man style is virtually a classic now, as it's been around so long and anyone who's ever bought one still wears it.

While we're on the subject we feel the need to address Canada Goose parkas, which suddenly everyone seems to be wearing. No doubt they are the warmest parkas on earth, having been proven by scientists wearing them in Antarctica. But at $995 (no, I did not forget a decimal; they are almost a thousand bucks) you have to decide whether it's worth paying 5x a North Face for one. Plus, for many of their jackets they trap and kill poor coyotes in Canada for the hood lining. Coyotes are basically large, wild dogs. Think about that. 

A balmy winter day in Chicago

A balmy winter day in Chicago

Ear cover

Everyone feels a little goofy wearing 180s, but they're still infinitely better than traditional earmuffs and they keep your ears from freezing off. Always a plus.

Gloves

Cashmere-lined leather gloves are one of life's inexpensive luxuries. Cashmere isn't itchy but it's paradoxically thin and warm. Only a little bit of the material is needed to make them so you won't be shelling out $400 like for a triple-ply cashmere sweater. Many models try to be iPhone-friendly with little conductive pods at the fingertips, but generally gloves are too bulky for the delicate swiping and stabbing required for effective smartphone use in life below zero.

What are your smart savvy secrets to warmth? Leave a comment and let us know!