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Winter for dummies: How to stay warm in Wisconsin’s weather

November 15, 2017 By Emily Hamer

With last weekend’s frigid football game and December just a couple weeks away, one thing is now almost a guarantee: it’s not getting any warmer.

But there are still some ways to stay warm, even in the icy Wisconsin climate. Whether preparing for the upcoming 40-degree football game in Camp Randall, or just trying to get to walk to class and still feel your fingers, here are some strategies you can use to keep warm.

1) Wear layers. Lots of layers.

This seems obvious, but it really helps. You’d be shocked how much warmer walking to class is when you have on two pairs of pants or multiple sweaters.

Don’t do this with socks, though. It’s better to have one warm pair of socks than to layer up on socks. Your boots are designed to keep your feet warm with one pair of socks. If you wear more than that it can compress your foot, which cuts off your circulation and actually makes your feet colder.


2) Get fleece-lined leggings

If you only wear a pair of normal leggings to class in the middle of winter, you can expect to be freezing. But if you still want the comfort of leggings without turning your legs into human popsicles there is a solution: fleece-lined leggings. They’re cheap, sold on Amazon, and best of all, they’re really warm.

For bonus warmth: Layer your fleece-lined leggings with one or more pairs or leggings, pants — or fur if you’re a dog — to keep your legs extra toasty.


3) Wrap your scarf around your entire face

The hardest part about winter is trying to keep your face warm while also maintaining your ability to breath and see. If you position your scarf just right, you can get your nose and mouth covered and still be able to see. Then, your breath will keep the bottom half of your face heated as you walk.

If you can’t get your scarf to stay, you could also get a face mask, which is designed specifically to keep your face warm in the winter.


4) Get yourself a scarf that can also be used as a blanket.

Scarves themselves are great. They keep your neck and chin cozy and can double as a face mask when it’s extra cold. But one underrated feature of giant scarves is that they can also be used as blankets.

Whether curling up under your newfound blanket in the stands of camp randall, or huddling underneath your blanket-scarf on your way to class, you’ll be much warmer.


5) Wear mittens instead of gloves

Say goodbye to your gloves. Gloves do give you more dexterity, but mittens generally are a lot warmer. Your fingers generate more body heat when they are close together, not separated like they are in gloves. And if you really need to be able to use your smartphone they make mittens that are compatible with touch screens too. Wearing gloves is still better than wearing nothing, though!

If you want to be warmer but still use your index fingers, some companies make lobster gloves, which have some of your fingers joined together, but not all of them. You could also try glittens, another half-mitten, half-glove option.


6) Use hand warmers

Mittens not enough warmth for you? There’s a solution for that too. Some companies make pocket-sized packets that heat up when they are exposed to air. You can get a pack of 10 for around $7 on Amazon.

You can put those little heat packs, which last for hours, inside of your mittens or pockets for an extra boost of heat. Pro tip: Put them inside of your shoes for ultimate warmth.

And if you can’t figure out the whole hand warmer thing or they weird you out for some reason, you can always get a steaming coffee and hold that in your hands as you walk to class.


7) Wear a hat that covers your ears

Even though it’s a myth that you lose most of your body heat through your head, it’s still smart to wear a hat that covers up your ears. The head is more sensitive to changes in temperature than the rest of the body, so if you don’t cover up your ears, you’ll feel a lot colder.


8) Invest in a pair of practical winter boots.

Most winter boats are not exactly the most stylish choice of footwear, but when it’s the middle of winter at UW–Madison, no one cares what shoes you’re wearing. It’s better to not worry about matching your outfit and wear insulated, water-resistant boots to keep your feet dry and warm in the snow and slush. Plus, there are plenty of stylish boots that are also practical.


Have other ideas for other ways to stay warm this winter? Send your tips to