The saying goes you lose most of your body heat through your head, its true ya know? The head can also be used as a temperature regulator for your entire body if done correctly. Putting on a hat can warm up your entire body, even your feet. Taking off your hat will quickly cool you down. A preference for me is to carry two hats for a day trip; a light layer for warmer temperatures and easier temperature regulation and a heavier hat for summits, tree line, heavy winds, and cooler conditions and as a backup.

One important trick; when you take off your hat tuck it into a pocket or into your jacket and keep it warm next to your body. This will keep any moisture from sweat from freezing and requiring your head to melt it.

Balaclava’s:

Not to be confused with the tasty Greek dessert baklava. These come in both half and full face. Most are sized, but some come in a one size fits most. You can buy a liner thickness or a heavy fleece; this is personal preference and should be based on conditions.  The thicker ones tend to be very warm under most conditions.

Consider ones with breathing vents for the mouth and nose. This makes it easier to breath under higher activity levels, especially during mountaineering and snowshoeing. The vents also help alleviate fogging and icing up of goggles when worn together. 

Cotton hats:

While you don’t see very many cotton beanies or hats, they do exist and these are horrible! Think about when it snows or when the snow drops from the trees, where does it land first? You head!! The cap becomes soaked as the heat from your head melts the snow, then you take of the cap and put it in your pack, frozen solid!

Wool and fleece hats:

These are the best you can buy for winter and cold weather conditions. Even when these get wet they retain their warmth properties. They are soft and typically have a solid fit for most head shapes and sizes.

Purchase one that covers the ears; don’t get a real Shorty and then end up with solid blocks for ears, you can always roll them up over the ears to cool off. DON’T SKIMP ON THE HAT!

Ear bands:

These are great alternatives for when hats are too much, but your ears get cold. Don’t pack in place of a hat; you still need to have a hat with you.

Liners:

These are awesome and I highly recommend you have one of these in your pack. I use a liner for warmer winter conditions and for under a helmet. They also work excellent under a second hat for added warmth and take up very little room.

Color:

Buy black mostly, pretty simple. Color is nice, but the black color will keep your head warmer under sunnier conditions. Just like in summer, but you avoid black for similar reasons.

Goggles:

If you are a skier or mountaineer, goggles are essential. Eye protection from snow reflection will save you from the burning feeling the snow reflection can give. They also protect from high winds and the wind chill associated. While not used often, they are good to have in your pack.

When used with a balaclava they tend to fog up, put on some anti-fog to help reduce this.

Sizing is important, try them on. They are made for different facial structures and sized. They also make what is called and OTG model, which stands for over the glasses, for those who have prescription eye glasses. They also make prescription goggles, but are quite pricey.

Helmet:

For skiing this is a smart idea. While most cross-country skiers don’t use them and that is understood. However, if you venture into the trail skiing or back-country skiing realm, get one and use it.

Be sure you size them correctly; they should fit with little movement but not pinch your forehead. Leave enough room for a light liner.

Certain helmets fit perfectly with certain goggles. For example; smith fits with smith, Giro fits with Giro. What you want is to eliminate any gap between the top of goggle and the helmet; this tends to be frost nip point..

Sun block, wind block:

Winter sun burn or wind burn is horrible stuff and it causes serious dry skin and chapping. Use sun block on the skin and lip balm on the lips. Badger balm and Dermatone are amazing products for winter.

For more on layering check out my recent blog on outerwear materials and check back as I cover the hands, the feet and the core.  Need to get some stuff, check out a local gear shop in Lake Placid, we have everything. Need a hot bath after you have been out all day, our local lodging is tops!