Guide to Layering for Winter Hiking

This post is a follow-up to last week’s post about What to Wear Fat Biking in Cold Weather. Last year my friend Skyler and I hiked in the Catskills on a frigid day. I meant to use this graphic last winter but never got around do it. As I type, the wind is howling outside my window and the windchill is -10, so now is a good time as ever!

The key to staying warm during outdoor activities in the winter is layering. Base layers, or what you’re wearing against your skin are very important for retaining heat. A good base layer is made of either merino wool, which can be expensive, or a synthetic material, which is cheaper. I always wear a fleece-lined long-sleeve midweight base layer over the lightweight layer for extra warmth. On this particular day, I was wearing five total layers on top!

  1. Tank top (synthetic)
  2. Long sleeve base layer (merino)
  3. Mid-weight long sleeve (synthetic)
  4. Insulating down-tech fleece jacket (down-filled core with sweater fleece)
  5. Prima loft hooded jacket (lightweight, synthetic insulating outer layer)
  6. An optional sixth layer would be a shell, however, on this particular day, it was not wet enough to warrant a rain jacket or shell. However, I’d advise to always keep one in your pack during hikes!

On the bottom, you can layer similarly. I had on a mid-weight merino baselayer pant and my regular hiking pants on top of them. I also layered with a pair of synthetic sock-liners under a thick pair of wool socks, along with insulated winter hiking boots. A knit hat, a fleece neck warmer, and waterproof insulated gloves were also key! Hiking can be hard work, so being able to remove layers when you get too warm is important to help regulate temperature. You don’t ever want to be hiking in wet, sweaty clothes in cold temperatures.

As always, check the weather forecast before you head out. Also carry proper traction for your hike, such as microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes. Sometimes it’s best to bring all three, which can make a heavy pack!

Check out some of one of my other posts about winter hiking:

Adirondack Hiking Safety Tips

 

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How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Last month I had an blog post published in the Healthy Professor’s Times Union Blog called Don’t Fear the Squash. It’s about the health benefits of squash and some cooking tips. Check it out !

Squash is one of my favorite sides on Thanksgiving. But so is the pie! And this time of year is when it’s tough for many people to keep up with their healthy habits, myself included. It seems like there are cookies and pies everywhere and avoiding them gets harder and harder.

Here are some small tips to make it a little easier to get through the holidays.

Choose healthier sides

One year for thanksgiving I made a healthier version of the classic green bean casserole with fresh green beans. You could also make a green salad and load your plate up with fresh vegetables, along with smaller helpings of the more unhealthy sides. Vegetables provide fiber  that will fill you up, along with important vitamins and minerals.

Don’t drink your calories

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If you still want to enjoy adult beverages on Thanksgiving, opt for a cocktail made with calorie-free seltzer, rather than a sugary juice or soda. You could also choose a slice of pie over a heavy beer, since you don’t always have pumpkin pie–you can have beer any time of year!

Participate in a Turkey Trot

Many towns have annual Turkey Trots on Thanksgiving morning with many different distances. Getting out and being active is great any day, but even better on a day when you will probably be eating and sitting more than usual. It’s also a fun tradition to start with your family!

Remember, being healthy is a journey–you can still enjoy the pie, but it’s the small things that add up over time that produce results! Nobody is perfect 100% of the time, but small changes can make a difference. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

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What to Pack for a Day Hike

Happy first day of Spring! Even though it doesn’t really feel like it, its officially Spring. Tomorrow I’m taking the day off to go for a hike near Lake George. I was organizing my hiking bag and then realized it might be helpful to let you all know what I typically bring on a short day hike!

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(bag with gear–I don’t usually bring the cat…)

Since we won’t be going into the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks, I’m going to bring my smaller 28L backpack. My other pack is much larger at 45L. Here’s what I’ll bring tomorrow for a hike in the Lake George Wild Forest of the Adirondacks that will take around 4-5 hours round trip.

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Bivvy – Emergency blanket

Headlamp and extra lithium batteries

SPOT device – satellite messenger

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Waterproof matches

Compass

Waterproof and tear resistant map of the area I’m hiking

Snacks – Clif bar, Larabar, trail mix and an apple

Ace bandage

First aid kit

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Even though it’s technically spring, its pretty much still winter in the mountains, so this is what I would bring for a “winter hike”.

Bungee cord – for attaching snowshoes to my backpack

Katoola Microspikes

Waterproof Gaiters

Other things I usually bring that are unpictured:

Waterbottle – for short hikes I bring my 32oz Nalgane bottle, for longer hikes I bring my  75oz Platypus bladder

Thermos of hot coffee or hot chocolate

Extra wool socks

Extra long sleeve shirt

Blister treatment

Rain shell or jacket

Hiking poles

Camp Stalker Universal Crampon (for winter hiking) – I have yet to use these on a hike, but make sure to bring them in case of icy conditions!

Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes (for winter hiking)

Can I just take a minute to say how excited I am for summer hiking? Out of the 10 mountains I’ve hiked since August 2013, only four of them were during the “summer” season. Wow.

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Field Goods and Healthy Greens

I recently signed up for a new vegetable delivery program!

You might remember last summer Chris and I signed up for a CSA Program, where from June to October we got a delivery of fresh, locally grown vegetables from Otter Hook Farms! I really liked it, but I didn’t sign up for 2013 because I just didn’t want the commitment. Enter, Field Goods! After reading about Jona’s vegetables every week, I wanted some of my own.

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Field Goods is almost the same concept as a CSA, except that you pay weekly for a share of vegetables (or fruit, cheese or breads) and you can put it on hold or cancel at any time! I liked the flexibility too. Its kind of like a Netflix, for vegetables! The vegetables change weekly according to season and they even continue through the winter, which is what I liked. They all come from various farms throughout the area.  A small vegetable share is $20 per week, which is enough for 1-2 people. I’m gladly paying because now I don’t have to spend time pick out out vegetables at the store.

Last week I was supposed to get my first delivery. They have tons of places for pickup all over the Capital Region. There was one located near my office, so I chose that one. Unfortunately they had some problems delivering last week due to the holiday, so I didn’t get my first bag. However, they generously offered me some free local cheese to make up for it and didn’t charge me for that bag.

One of the items in this week’s bag was a huge bag of leafy greens: all types of kale and collard greens. Beautiful! Of course these greens have fantastic nutritional benefits. Kale and collards are some of the best for you.

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Nutrition Benefits of Collard Greens

  • Great source of vitamin c, soluble fiber
  • Contains multiple nutrients with anti-cancer properties
  • A quarter pound of collards (cooked) only contains 46 calories
  • High source of vitamin k, the blood clotting vitamin, so eat in moderation if you are on a blood thinner

Other info

  • Fresh collard leaves can be stored for about three days in the fridge
  • Once cooked, they can be frozen and stored for longer

Nutrition Benefits of Kale

  • Very high in beta carotene, vitamin k, vitamin c, and rich in calcium.
  • Contains nutrients with anti-cancer properties
  • Been found to contain something known as bile acid sequestrants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat

Other info

  • Boiling kale decreases its anti-cancer nutrients, but steaming, microwaving, or stir-frying do not result in significant loss

One of the reasons I signed up for Field Goods is to increase my vegetable intake. I noticed the past few months I’ve been having a hard time eating fresh fruits and vegetables since I’m so busy (with nutrition school, which is kind of ironic…and sad) and I’m left with little time for meal planning and preparation. Getting these vegetables delivered is a sure way that I’m going to prepare and eat them during the week! In case you are wondering what came along with the greens, there were  also apples, carrots, cremini mushrooms, and radishes in the bag!

A quick and easy way to prepare these greens is cooking them in a skillet. I washed them, removed the stems and roughly tore them into bite-size chunks. After sauteing an onion with garlic powder in olive oil for about 5 minutes, I threw in the greens and let them cook with a little olive oil and an all purpose spice mixture for about 5 more minutes or until they turned bright green. They are delicious and this way required minimal time and effort on my part.

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My Favorite Winter Running Gear, Updated

It’s that time of year again, folks!

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One of my top viewed posts around this time is My Favorite Winter Running Gear! But that’s a few years old now, so I wanted to give you guys and update of what I’m using now!

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Neon Puffy Vest. Of course, it doesn’t have to be neon, but that makes it more fun (and you more visible!) $34.99, Gap. (I got mine last year on the clearance rack for under $15.00.)

Full-Zip Quilted Jacket. This is Target’s mock of some of the more pricier brands. I got it for Ragnar Relay when I realized it was colder in the Adirondacks in September that I thought it would be! I also wear this jacket when I’m not running, like to and from the gym because it’s really flattering and I just love it. $34.99.

Half-Zip Pullover. Any brand would work. I really like Xersion’s because it’s really soft, comes in pretty colors and its flattering. Its long and has thumbholes (the dealbraker). Half zips are nice because you can regulate your temperature by unzipping the zipper if you get warm. I also have a fleece-lined Nike Half Zip (from Marshall’s) that I love, too. $17.99, JC Penney.

Fleece-Lined Tights. I don’t have these exact tights but they are on my wishlist! They are a bit pricey, but I think they’d be worth the investment. I usually wear a regular pair of running tights but having a fleece-lined pair would be nice on those extra cold days. $79.00, Athleta.

Smart-Touch Gloves. A necessity all-around. I love the smart-touch because I can easily check my phone or adjust a playlist when I’m running without taking them off. They are small enough to stash in pockets once I warm up, too. $2.00 for two pair, Target.

Fleece Headband. I’m still using the Nike headband I blogged about last time, still loving it! It keeps my ears warm and earbuds in place. This is the updated version.  $18, Nike (But you can probably find cheaper versions just as good elsewhere.)

Smartwool Socks. I’ve been running in Smartwool sock for years (and all year round!) I’m a huge fan of these socks. They keep my feet toasty. $16.95, EMS.

Here is what I’d wear given the temperature:

0-25 Degrees – Jacket with long sleeve underneath, puffy vest, fleece tights, gloves, headband
26-35 Degrees – Jacket with long sleeve, fleece tights, no vest, gloves, headband
36-45 Degrees – Long sleeve half zip pullover, regular running tights, gloves
46-50 Degrees- Thin long sleeve, running crops
50+ Degrees – Short sleeves, crops or shorts

What are your winter running must-haves?

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