“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
This wisdom hails from Scandinavia, the happiest place on Earth — though I first heard the adage from my elementary school bus driver, Stan “The Man” Woinoski, who, come to think of it, is also happy. I plan to make the phrase my mantra, now that winter has hit Wyoming. We may still be five weeks from the solstice, but we have already survived sub-zero temperatures.
Norwegians, Swedes, Danes and Finns revel in freezing days without sunshine for weeks at a time. Enjoyment of winter is even baked into the language. We can thank the Scandinavians for viral words such as the Norwegian “koselig” and the Danish “hygge,” untranslatable ideas that describe coziness, conviviality and contentment.
The Norse recipe for frosty joy involves equal parts outdoor adventure and minimalist, functional design, with a dash of cardamom. To achieve true koselig, it seems, one must:
1. Add small touches to the home.
Dedicate even one corner to coziness with a comfy chair, blanket and book. If possible, add a roaring fireplace.
2. Spend time with others.
Don’t give in to the isolation that can come with short, dark days. Make cardamom buns with family, throw a candlelit dinner party with friends or even just plan a coffee date.
3. Go outside!
Studies show how beneficial a jaunt in nature is to the body and mind. “Forest bathing” is as appropriate for winter as summer.
So, finally taking the Scandinavians’ and Stan’s advice, I headed to The Sport Stop for a layering clinic, which is available by appointment for free to Press Pass members this month. When I arrived, employee and outdoorsman Daniel Clark had spread examples of the various clothing stages across three countertops.
Layers are the secret to enjoying cold weather, Clark said.
The options prepare you for a range of conditions and help you follow the golden rule of cold-weather adventures: Don’t get wet, as that strips away your body heat and can lead to hypothermia. If you start to sweat, take off a layer.
Start with a thin base layer of a long-sleeve shirt and thermal pants. These can be worn throughout winter. (Another shameless Press Pass plug: If you attend the layering clinic in November, you get 10% off a long underwear set!)
Add a midlayer of wool, nylon, polyester or a blend — Clark recommends long-sleeve, quarter-zip. If facing extreme conditions, consider adding a down vest.
The next insulating layer is the most important, according to Clark: a hooded zip-up puffy jacket.
“This is what you’ll go to work in, what you’ll run errands in, what you’ll be able to take on and off while you’re cross-country skiing or snowshoeing,” he said.
Top the ensemble with an outer layer, large jacket and pant shells that block wind and water.
Finally, keep your extremities warm. Wear a wool cap. Protect your face in sub-zero temperatures with a buff and/or balaclava. Line your boots with wool. As for your hands, the principles of layering work for gloves, too: Cover a thin liner with a weatherproof shell.
Clark’s last advice was about what to leave off, rather than layer on. Avoid cotton, as it holds in moisture (remember the golden rule!).
When you embark on your own layering adventure, “find what works for you,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of trial and error. But it’s just about being prepared.”
As for me, clad in my new layers and a ken for koselig, I am ready not only to survive winter but embrace the cold.
Note: Before Nov. 30, sign up for your own free layering clinic (with 10% off long underwear) at The Sport Stop. Call 307-672-5356 to make your appointment — and be sure to bring your Press Pass.