3 Winter Survival Clothing Layers You Need to Know Today!

winter survival clothing


To some, winter is a beautiful time of the year.  To others, winter can be a very dangerous time of the year.  In fact, winter cold kills more than twice as many Americans compared to summer heat (USA Today).  One way to combat this threat is by knowing winter survival clothing layers.

Based on a report by the National Center for Health Statistics “about 2,000 U.S. residents died each year from weather-related causes of death.”  Of those 2,000 people, 63% of these deaths were from the weather-related excessive natural cold.  Cold weather leads to the threat of frostbite and hypothermia which many times lead to death.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperatures, happens when you are exposed to cold temperatures that cause your body to lose heat faster than it can be produced.  This affects your brain making you unable to think clearly or move well.  What makes it even more dangerous is that it is a silent killer.  Many people can be suffering from hypothermia and not know it.

Hypothermia is typically encountered by people living in colder environments.  However, it can also happen at cool temperatures above 40 degrees.  This can happen when you are chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water.

Victims of hypothermia are most often:

  • Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating
  • Infants in cold rooms
  • Children left attended in cold temperatures
  • Adults under the influence of alcohol
  • Mentally ill
  • People exposed to cold outdoor temperatures including the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.

Warning signs of hypothermia:

  • Shivering/exhaustion
  • Confusion/fumbling hands
  • Memory loss/slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

What is frostbite?

Cold weather can actually injure the body.  That might sound overdramatic.  I know sometimes when we are in the cold weather we complain that it is so cold that it hurts.  That is because it can actually injure your body.  This is known as frostbite.

Frostbite causes the loss of feeling and color in certain areas of the body.  Those areas typically include the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, finger or toes.  These parts are what we call the extremities.  The cold weather can permanently damage the body and sometimes to lead to amputation.

Warning signs of frostbite:

  • A white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • Firmness or waxy feeling on the skin
  • Numbness

Again, victims of frostbite are typically unaware.  By the time that they do realize that they can be suffering from frostbite it is too late.  This will call for medical attention.

During the winter season, there is a higher chance of being exposed to extremely cold temperatures.  We can face them in our everyday lives on our way to work or running errands.  We can also face them for dangerously long amounts of time during a car accident or breakdown.  A power outage during these cold temperatures force many people into dangerous situations every year.  You never know when you will be forced to fight the winter cold.

The Importance of Winter Survival Clothing Layers

This is why it is important to understand winter survival clothing layers.  It is important that you stay prepared at all times.  It isn’t only for camping or other survival situations.  Any day you can be forced into a survival situation.

“When surrounding temperatures drop to a certain point, your body will conserve heat by shutting off the blood flow to the hands and fee, making them feel chilled.  For women, that temperature is about 70 degrees, while men can hold steady until about 67 degrees (University of Rochester).”

Dressing in layers allows people to adjust to the cold temperatures.  At the same time, one warm garment that is well-made will work just as well to keep you warm.  So you can actually stay warm in the cold without throwing on tons of clothing layers.

If you have the right clothing and layered correctly then it will keep you warm.  Having on tons of clothing also makes it challenging to take off quickly when you need to.  By having the essential winter survival clothing layers you can still perform routinely.

When you are in cold weather you are not only fighting to stay warm but also perspiration.  Yes, you can sweat in cold temperatures!  Trust me, it is uncomfortable.

Not only is sweating in colder temperatures uncomfortable but can be dangerous.  In extremely cold temperatures, perspiration can lead to hypothermia.  By having the appropriate winter survival clothing layers you can appropriately wick away perspiration while staying warm.

3 Winter Survival Clothing Layers that You Need to Know!

  1. Base Layer

The best options for the base of your winter survival clothing layers include synthetic and merino wool fabrics. Moisture-wicking clothing will wipe away moisture from your skin so that it can evaporate through the outer layers.

You can actually have 2 base layers if need be.  For example, you can have on lightweight and another thicker heavyweight base layer.  I typically use an Under Armour Tactical Tech moisture wicking shirt along with ExOfficio Give-N-Go underwear.  Then for my feet, I alternate between Columbia River moisture wicking socks and wool socks.

You don’t want to use cotton.  When it comes to winter survival clothing layers cotton is your enemy. Cotton will take 3 times as long to dry compared to synthetic and wool materials.

For a second base layer, I use a long sleeve Under Armour Cold Gear thermal shirt and pants.  There are some other great options like ColdPruf as well.

  1. Middle Layer

The middle layer of your winter survival clothing layers is the insulation layer.  This is designed to trap your body heat.  They are typically made of microfleece or synthetic.

Your body naturally produces heat.  This is important to keep in during extremely cold weather.  When you are out and about it may be challenging to find another source of heat.

For the middle layer, I typically use a wool or merino wool sweater.  If you live in the south these are typically harder to find.  You may be tempted to use a cotton again but this is your enemy.  Some people complain about the way that wool feels but will keep you warmer and dryer.

  1. Outer Layer

The outer layer of your winter survival clothing layers is also known as the shell.  The shell is designed to be waterproof/windproof and breathable.  It will block out the cold winter winds from infiltrating your body.

Laminates like Gore-tex are preferable for this layer.  However, there are some great less expensive options like polyurethane-coated fabrics.  For the other layer, I prefer the Free Country Dobby Colorblock Soft-Shell jacket.  It comes with a polyester outer shell along with a removable lining.  I recently used this in 10-degree weather in Ohio.  It kept me nice and toasty despite the blistering blowing wind.

Summary of the Winter Survival Clothing Layers

These layers are in order so that you can easily take layers off when you need to.  This will prevent you from becoming too hot or cold at any moment.  So if you are camping or doing some other activity in the cold you can take off a layer when you notice perspiration.  Dry off and throw a layer back on when you are getting colder.


Altogether these would be tips on winter survival clothing layers that you need to know today.  If you have any suggestions then please leave those in the comment section below.  Your feedback helps the community to prepare the smart way now so that we can thrive later.


winter survival clothing