When temperatures drop below freezing, safety becomes the most important consideration for choosing gear, particularly clothing, for outdoor activity. In extremely cold weather, a serious risk of frostbite and hypothermia exists. Mountaineering, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and many other winter activities involve extreme cold or winter conditions. Women's clothing, sleeping bags and other winter gear are available designed specifically for the female form and weight distribution.
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The base layer, or thermal underwear, may be the most important layer for staying warm and comfortable in cold weather. A good base layer is soft and insulating; it breathes and wicks moisture away from the body and dries quickly. Moisture can rob your body of precious warmth. Tops feature zipper, crew, turtle and V style necks. Women's top and bottom base layers are designed to fit the female form to reduce air pockets. Popular materials include merino wool and high-performance synthetic fabrics.
Insulating layers provide insulation between the base and outer layers. Insulating layers are typically composed of several lightweight layers that you can open or remove to help regulate body temperature. Multiple layers trap air, keeping warm air from cooling too quickly. Insulating layers include shirts, sweaters and light jackets made of wool, microfleece or other fabrics designed to wick moisture, breathe, dry quickly and insulate. Some specialized fabrics are designed to block wind while remaining breathable.
The single outer jacket (or parka) and pants layers are often waterproof in addition to windproof to keep the body dry in snowy conditions, and may be lined or insulated. Jacket features include a hood to protect the head and neck, pockets, and vents that you can open to regulate body temperature. Hip-length jackets provide extra insulation and protection. Women's outer layers are roomy, and shaped to allow more room for the hips and chest. Insulation material may be natural down or specialized synthetics.
Microfleece or wool hats insulate your head, where you need warmth most in cold weather. Finger, toes and ears are susceptible to frostbite. Hats may feature ear flaps for added warmth. Scarves and ski masks protect the neck and face from bitter cold wind. Heavy socks made of wool, microfleece or other synthetics worn over moisture wicking liners, combined with insulated, waterproof boots, keep your feet warm and dry. Wear waterproof gloves or mittens over thin wool or microfleece gloves for added warmth.
Goggles and sunglasses protect your eyes from wind, blowing snow, sun, glare and ultraviolet rays. Boots designed for winter conditions are typically crampon-compatible, allowing you to attach crampons for added traction in icy conditions. There are winter sleeping bags and mats designed specifically for a woman's shape and weight distribution. Four-season tents, white gas stoves designed for cold weather and other mountaineering or expedition quality gear will help you stay warm, comfortable and safe in winter conditions.