One of our recent blog posts we dove into how to keep cool while traveling in hot climates. Well, it’s time to turn the tables. If you’re going somewhere frigid – you need to be prepared! We want you going home with the same number of fingers you left with. (Keep in mind – we’re talking in northern-hemisphere season language.)
Gloves & Mittens
So, speaking of fingers – we’d like to keep them as safe from the elements as possible. Once your hands get cold, it can be a challenge to get your body heat circulated back to that area of the body – so proper gloves are key, as frostbite is no joke. When shopping for mittens and gloves, look for these buzzwords: thermal, insulation, water-proof, wind-resistant. Don’t be scared off by unfamiliar synthetic materials you may see listed, as they often have the highest levels of thermal conductivities. Take it from us, you’ll need to be equipped with proper handwear when you’re searching for polar bears up in Churchill!
Many of the same principles as above apply here, but there’s one more hazard that can’t be overstated: slipping on ice. We’ve all been there. Casually walking along, looking up at the beautiful hoarfrost on the trees, listening to the chickadees sing their songs, and out of nowhere you find yourself horizontal on the icy ground. There’s a reason hockey players wear helmets; hitting your head (or any body part) on ice is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. So make sure to pack boots/shoes with plenty of tread, non-slip rubber soles, and good ankle support. If you plan on doing any glacier hiking in Antarctica (yes, we have a tour for that!) consider investing in some safety cleats. They usually slip right onto your existing footwear, so you can wander the southernmost point in the world without a care in the world!
SPF & Lip Care
There is a common misconception that sunburns only occur at the beach in the summer. Sure, UV rays in the winter are weaker than the summer months. However, snow and ice can reflect up to 80% of these UV rays, which means any exposed skin can get hit from two angles. Colder climates can also quickly dry the skin, especially when you’re coming from a more humid environment (people from British Columbia visiting Manitoba in the winter can attest to this!) so be sure to pack that SPF face lotion and lip balm if you’re planning on doing lots of outdoor exploration.
Hand Warmers/Heat Packs
There is no shame in having some help from a heat pack. Not only are they incredibly helpful in emergencies, they’re pretty neat. Hand warmer pouches turn up the heat in your mittens by means of an exothermic reaction that essentially just creates rust! Each pouch typically contains iron powder, salt, water, an absorbent material, and activated carbon. When the pouch is removed from its outer packaging, oxygen drifts across the pouch’s permeable covering. With salt and water present, the oxygen reacts with the iron powder located inside to form iron oxide and release heat. You’ll be thanking Japanese inventor, Niichi Matoba, for his platinum catalyst technology when your fingers are cozy and warm. Don’t let the cold stop you from seeing the magic in the sky in Yellowknife.
In general, foods that take longer to digest can help raise your body temperature and make you feel warmer. The medical term for this process is thermogenesis, which is the process of your body producing heat caused by food metabolizing. Look for food that’s high in healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Many of these foods are more complex and take longer to digest, like red meat, oats, sweet potatoes and squash. While you’re up in Norway learning all about the Indigenous Sami culture, you’re sure to get your hands on some “Bierggojubttsa”, a soup containing meat, potatoes, carrots or other root vegetables that’s sure to warm you from the inside out.
Moral of the story here is that cold weather is not the enemy! If you're prepared for the elements, it can even be magical.