Don’t be caught without these essentials this winter!
As fall settles in and Halloween approaches, we’ve begun to notice the leaves change color, the days grow shorter, and the air get colder. While winter is a snowy wonderland for many, for others it is a long expanse of gray days and numb toes, dry air and physical inactivity. Whatever your feelings about winter, there are many ways to make the upcoming months more comfortable. Having spent most of my life in the Northeast US, here are my favorite tips to keep toasty this winter…
Hydro Flasks: I would never go anywhere without a vacuum sealed bottle of something warm and delicious. Like a thermos, vacuum bottles are designed to insulate your drinks. But by using a double-walled container with a vacuum in the middle, the bottles can keep your drinks warm AND keep them cold – up to 12 hours with hot drinks, and a full 24 hours with cold. More than enough to get you through your winter activities! Hydro Flask is a trusted name around here.
Snow Sleds: If you are also a kid at heart like myself, then snow sleds are a must have. Unlike the simple plastic toboggans of old, however, today’s sleds come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes for all sorts of speed and maneuverability improvements over their ancestors. If only I’d had this technology back during my school snow days! Come to think of it, I might have to pick one up for my work snow days…
Blankets: These have been a winter staple for centuries, and for good reason. They’re simple, effective, and great for sharing with others! Handknit blankets from grandma are my personal favorites, but if you have to go store bought, nothing beats the warmth and softness of fleece. (You could always consider a dedicated electric blanket on your bed for nighttime comfort though.)
Thermal Curtains: Another passive option for staying warm at home is from installing thermal curtains over your windows. These were unfamiliar to me before working at Comparaboo, but thermal curtains help stop drafts, reduce noise (loud neighborhood snowplows, anyone?), and keep warm air in and cold air out. They come in every size and color imaginable, and actually lower your heating costs while passively warming your home.
Space Heater: For staying actively warm while moving about inside your house, though, nothing beats the personal space heater. I’ve lived through more than two dozen Northeast winters and one in Chicago and I couldn’t have done it without my trusty space heater. They come in all shapes and sizes, from decorative floor elements to portable tabletop and wall-mounted versions. Coincidentally, I actually owned and used Comparaboo’s #1 ranked space heater (at the time of writing) before learning of the site, and it got me through a “wicked rough” Boston winter like a champ. Definitely deserving of that number one spot, I’d say!
Pocket warmers: Don’t forget about staying warm when you’re out of the house. Of course there’s the standard list of winter wear – jacket, gloves, boots, scarf. But chemical pocket, glove, and toe warmers have saved many a hand and foot from numbness on prolonged excursions outdoors, and I swear by them for maintaining dexterity while cycling and hiking, and my friends for skiing & snowboarding, during the winter.
Gloves and Boots: While most people are willing to pay for a quality winter jackets, gloves and boots often get overlooked. I’ve used rain boots in the past to get through heavy winter snows, but not only were they ill-fitting and poor for walking any real distance in, they were also just as cold as you’d expect rubber boots in the winter to be. So whether you’re someone who loves the snow or dreads waking up and seeing white, proper foot and handwear will make you much more comfortable when adventuring outside.
Hot chocolate: A standard winter staple that gets me through many a cold night, the eternal debate over marshmallow or no marshmallow may never be solved. If you looking to spice them up these 11 ways to doctor up a hot chocolate has some great ideas.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers: A constant struggle, winter humidity can fluctuate significantly between outside and in, or even from building to building. With your home sealed up tight, excess moisture often forms from showers and exhaled breaths, and it’s important to pull it from the air before it damages any fabrics, building materials, or begins to mold. Conversely, outside winter air is typically very dry. If your home suffers from the same low humidity, you’ll love a humidifier to ease nasal irritation, help your house feel warmer, and bring softness back to you skin.
Video games: Not just for kids anymore, these exceptionally advanced and visually stunning entertainment platforms are amazing ways to beat the winter boredom. Invest in a full-body gaming system like the XBOX Kinect, and you can stay in shape bowling, dancing, or even wrestling the days away.
Light therapy box: Shorter days, longer nights, and limited sun can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people particularly during fall and winter. A light therapy box mimics outdoor light and research indicates this type of light can cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood. If you find yourself feeling SAD in winter, just 30 minutes a morning of sitting or working near a light box can lift your mood and effectively treat your symptoms without the use of medication.
Chapstick : Don’t forget one of the simplest and easiest winter remedies of all – chapstick! Even if you’ve got a humidifier inside, the dry outdoor air can really do a number on your lips. Throw a cheap tube of chapstick in your purse or put one in your pocket and you’ll never have to worry about kissing with cracked lips again. You may be surprised that it also has a reputation for being quite a survival tool
Personally, how I feel about winter changes daily. One morning I love it and can’t wait to get outside and explore those white, alien landscapes with my friends. The next, I want nothing but to stay inside, in the comfort of my own bed, space heater by my side and a good book in my hands, waiting for the sun to reappear. Whatever my mood though, I’ve found the list above to help make every “polar vortex” more comfortable, and every gray day much more enjoyable. Give some of them a shot if you haven’t already, and share your own tips and survival guides in the comments below!
Guest Blogger: Ben Reed