How to Dress for Cold-Weather Activities

Base layers are your best friends.


Just because temperatures are (slowly) dropping doesn’t mean all the fun has to happen indoors for the next five months. You just have to be prepared for the cooler weather. When you’re building your autumn or even winter wardrobe, you want to make sure you have enough layers to be comfortable while you take on the camp-ready woods or hit the chilly trails.

Basically, you want to work on your basics — and base layer pieces, like those from Smartwool, will give you all-day comfort while you’re spending time outside, even in cooler temps. Here are a few ideas on how to outfit your closet during these shifting seasons.

A brisk morning run

If you're feeling cooped up, one of the simplest ways to get outside is to go for a run. While it doesn’t matter when you decide to get those strides in, avid fitness folks will tell you that it’s best to run in the morning — for the early mental and physical stimulation — though it also means you’ll be braving some of the coolest temperatures of the day. The best way to make sure you’re insulating your body is to layer up with a pair of base layer bottoms made with Merino wool, which is better for holding in body heat in comparison to cotton. (Wear ’em solo or under another set of long pants or even shorts.) You’ll also want to look for bottoms that are durable and flexible — like Smartwool’s Merino base layer patterned bottoms, which have merrow seaming to assist with movement and to help with potential chafing. Choose from one of five colors for men or one of six colors and patterns for women.


Camping under the stars

Whether you’re setting out on an adventurous weekend with friends or a romantic getaway with your significant other, you’re going to want to bundle up when you decide to camp out under the night sky. If you’re heading to a place where temperatures are expected to drop to below 40 degrees at night, you’re risking exposure to frostbite and hypothermia without the proper outerwear. Alongside having warm socks (multiple pairs), a hat, gloves, and a scarf, a midweight base layer, like this quarter-zip from Smartwool, is also essential. It’s the perfect piece to have for the cold nights, but can also be taken off when hiking during the day. Or go with this Smartwool tie-dyed hoodie, made with plant-based dye, to feel even closer to nature.


Hitting the ski slopes

Skiing or snowboarding may seem like it’s for the more adventurous, but there’s a slope for just about anyone. Since hitting the slopes requires being elevated to a higher altitude, you’re going to need proper ventilation and durability in your clothing for when you’re breaking a sweat in cooler weather with potential winds. Look for clothing made of a quick-drying wool-poly blend, great for absorbing sweat and keeping you comfortable and cool while you're enjoying the mountain scene. Smartwool’s Intraknit™ Merino bottoms (available for men and women) have the added benefit of being loose-fitting since the last thing you need is for your pants to constrict while you’re trying to keep your body balanced and focused going down those hills (or performing a cool stunt).

A few turns at an ice skating rink

Ice skating may seem like a winter activity, but most rinks start opening up right before Thanksgiving to get you in the holiday spirit. When you hit the ice, you’ll be making a lot of full-body movements, so you’ll want your clothes to move with you. That means dressing for comfort, without sacrificing mobility. Smartwool’s Merino colorblock crewneck (for men and women) is a great choice for a base layer under a coat, or alone if it’s warm enough outside. The Merino wool is breathable, and it has thermoregulation and gender-specific ventilation (just in case you work up a sweat).