Winter Clothing Preparation For The Whole Family

It’s starting to get a bit chillier outside. Stepping out in the morning on our mountain shows that Fall is firmly in place and frosts are going to start falling.

Now is the time to assess what winter clothing you have on hand for you and other members of your household. Think of it as a good time to do a clothing purge too. Goodwill is an excellent way to deal with clothing that no one can use anymore but still has some good use left in it.

Use care when unpacking clothes. Spiders can hide in clothing, and no one wants to get bit by a spider.

Brown Recluse and Black Widow spiders could be a problem. It is always best to be safe. Wear gloves when getting into clothing storage. If clothing has been stored in plastic totes with sealed lids, it probably doesn’t have anything nasty residing in it. Clothing kept in outbuildings or in containers that are not completely sealed is more likely to have a surprise in it. Shoes and pockets should be checked well on the inside. Gloves are another item where spiders like to hide.

If you see any cobwebs or other signs of spider activity then you may just want to throw those clothes in the wash while wearing gloves. If it is more than a load or they are not washed and wear items, set them outside and wash later or shake them out/hit them to dislodge any spiders. You don’t want to release spiders further into your home and make the problem worse.

I know this sounds like a lot of spider paranoia but it really pays to be safe. Clothes can be a bit musty after storage anyway so washing everything is something a lot of people do anyway when switching out seasonal clothing.

Get out the sewing kit

Minor clothing repairs are worth it if it means making your nice clothing usable again or preventing further damage. A missing button takes just a few minutes to repair. Just make sure to have some buttons in basic sizes as part of your sewing kit. You would be amazed at how many high-quality items of clothing get thrown out when a small repair could fix things up for many years of use. Buttons and places that are highly stressed during wear are of course the most likely to have to be repaired. Think of quality clothing and gear as being like a vehicle. Over the years some maintenance is going to be required to get the most out of what you have.

Gloves

I know that gloves are something we just wear out sometimes or they get lost or damaged during work. If you have growing kids, then you will be going through some different sizes over time. Make sure that everyone tries on their gloves and they fit okay. Check for holes and other damage too.

Hats

These are another thing that gets misplaced fairly often. Take inventory and make sure you have enough cold weather hats for everyone. It never hurts to have a bunch of basic knit style hats that everyone can wear if needed.

BDS had a great recent post on prepper hats you may want to take a look at!

Boots

This is very important. Make sure your boot tread is good enough for your terrain. I swear if I get anything but a lug sole, I am falling like crazy. I fell twice in my new LL Bean Sneakers. I cannot wear them around my house only in town. You need boots that can deal with some rain, snow, and mud. You may want to have a pair of boots such as wellingtons or rubber boots that you can just slip on and off for quick trips in and out of your house or if you have to do a few homestead chores. It is a good idea to make sure that you have all the footwear you need to get through the winter before the weather gets too cold.

Boot Liners and Heavy Socks

I don’t buy boot liners because we are in the South and it really doesn’t get that cold here, especially the time of year that I am most likely to be out hiking and fishing. I just keep some wool socks around, and that is more than enough. I have a lot of them too, but they are hardly used. Very warm socks may be more of a concern to some of you in the coldest reaches of the World. I try to catch sales and buy clearance wool socks when I can. If you don’t like the bulk of wool, you can get some amazing synthetic socks that dry out easily.

Socks are something that everyone should have a lot of. You can make do without washing clothes for a while if you have socks. I have started avoiding buying some of the large packs of white athletic socks now. I found an amazing deal at my local grocery store of all places. For $4 you get three pairs of socks made in the USA. They are better quality than the Hanes I was getting, and the company is listed as being in Tryon, NC. I like to buy the USA made when I can.

Pants

We tend to wear just jeans around here most of the time with a few pairs of cotton or synthetic cargo pants. If it is really cold, we will throw on thermals and then we each have a pair of quality rain/snow pants from LL Bean. This layering works well for our climate. Some days in the winter thermals are not always required for working. We do use some cotton just around the farm but have synthetics too. Cotton is comfortable, but you just don’t want to get it wet out in a survival situation. You need synthetics for really hitting the bush and staying safe. Wool, of course, is another option.

Some people like the flannel lined jeans. They are good if you just want something super warm that you can pull on without worrying about thermals. You can of course always layer for more warmth.

Sweaters and Long Sleeve Shirts

Sweaters are great, but the popularity and advancements in a lot of lightweight fabrics have led to many wearing lighter weight hoodies and not a heavy knitted sweater. If you like the warmth of a sweater but want to keep it lightweight, then I recommend Smartwool. It is so soft that you would never think it was wool. Even the midweight garments are amazingly lightweight in feel

Kids Clothing

Outgrowing clothing is going to happen. If you have a lot of name brand clothing, then you may be able to do okay selling it at a consignment shop. Clothing swaps are sometimes possible with others in your area. This can help out those that are dealing with size changes.

Its important for those with kids to remember just how fast they can lose body heat during a cold situation. They just don’t have the mass and they are growing and burning calories like mad. Make sure you have enough winter items for those very cold times of the year.

A few sets of mid to heavyweight thermal underwear can be helpful. The stretch and the length seem to be pretty generous on thermals so you may be able to get a few years out of them before they are outgrown.

Scarves and Multifunctional Headwear

Even if you rarely use one, everyone should have a scarf or face covering for severe weather. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Synthetic or wool is nice for warmth and moisture resistance. My husband received a hat called a Buff for his birthday last year, and at first, I was skeptical about how it would perform, but it is a hat, scarf, face covering, and more. In fact, they show 12 ways of wearing in their advertisements. I like that they come in a ton of different colors and patterns and not just camo or neutral colors!

Buff Multifunctional Headwear

So did you realize how sparse your winter wardrobe is looking?

If you now realize that you are not ready for winter do not despair. Clothing deals are abundant. While you are not going to get out of season deals, you can shop around on Amazon, go to Thrift Stores, or try the clearance section online at any favorite store. A lot of outfitters like Cabelas have an outlet section.

The cold has just started, so you have a little time to get your warmest gear in order. This can help when prioritizing what to buy first.

Raingear

A good raincoat is essential winter weather gear. If you have a coat that is very waterproof, then you may be okay, but it can be nice to have a separate raincoat for layering even if you mostly stick to work and home.

Check your coats and garments for waterproof ability

Even the most expensive raincoat is eventually going to lose some of its ability to repel water. Scotchguard works wonders on any raincoat, boots, gloves, or other gear that you want to repel water. I just buy a spray can and coat well. It smells when you are applying it, so you want to do it outside or at least in a garage and then let it dry completely before wearing. This will bring a coat back. I like how well it works on shoes. This would not be a bad thing to keep as part of your preps.

Taking Care Of Polypro Garments

It is really easy to forget that polypro garments should be washed gently and never allowed to dry with high heat. You should air dry or tumble dry on the lowest possible setting. This will help extend the life of your clothes.

With nice sets costing as much as they do, why not take care of them? Of course, pay attention to the label care instructions and follow those. There are many different high tech fabric blends that may have different care instructions than the basics I just mentioned. While I ignore the tags on a lot of clothes, especially jeans and such, when it comes to that pricy specialized gear, I pay more attention!

Be careful to not overdo winter clothing in warmer climates.

While I think having extras on hand is great when it comes to gear and clothing, it can be very easy to overdo it in a warmer climate. Even at 3000 feet in North Carolina, it is very easy to get gear that is made for a much colder place. If you have a cold weather item that you use once or twice a year it is going to last a long time. The last time I overbought I got way too many wool socks online.

Sure they are put back but honestly, we only need socks like that a few times per year. Cotton socks and boots are usually enough when out working around here. The other times when it is really cold I will get out my snow boots that have a liner.

Spending in one area means that you are not in another so you just have to consider what is really needed and would improve your circumstances the most.

If a piece of clothing is rated to keep you warm at -20 F then it is not going to be functional most of the time in my climate. This fact is one reason I like the temperature ratings that good outfitters like LL Bean and Cabelas give. I buy a lot of LL Bean Clearance but I always stay away from the extreme cold weather gear.

Layers of warmth and moisture protection are often the best approach, especially in areas with major temperature swings throughout the day.

Layers work far better in my climate. For Fall and Winter, I might have up to 5 layers on at times and on some parts of my body. By midday, I might be down to 2-3. While we are still technically in the Fall season, temperatures can be 28 F at night and 60 F in the afternoon. That is a big swing from 8 am-4pm!

You can always take a layer off if you get too hot however going out with not enough on and not having anything to add to your layers can be life-threatening in extreme circumstances. Know your temperature extremes and plan accordingly. There are plenty of extremely lightweight garments out there that can provide extra protection from cold and dampness without adding a ton of extra weight.

Make sure your layers are actually comfortable to do tasks in.

A lot of you have probably seen “A Christmas Story”. Yep, the one with the Red Rider BB Gun and “You’ll shoot your eye out”. Remember when Ralphie’s little brother fell in the snowdrift and couldn’t get up? Remember how he was upset with his mom before leaving the house because he couldn’t move his arms. Well, that is what can happen if you wrap yourself in too many things that when combined,  significantly reduce your ability to do even basic tasks.

A lot of layers can start to feel heavy and bulky. Movement is going to be influenced by any extra amount of clothing but if you buy quality outdoor clothing then it will likely be thinner and better made than cotton garments, traditional wool, and thick polyester sweatshirts. It is worth the extra money to have layers that actually allow you to do things well.

Always allow for layering underneath when buying new winter gear and clothes.

It is wise to ask yourself how you are going to wear something before you buy it. If you buy pants that are very form fitting but have little “give” to them then you are probably not going to be comfortable if you have to put on a pair of thermal underwear underneath. A layer that fits close to your skin helps a lot with warmth. Tighter pants add some warmth too. You just need to make sure to allow enough breathing room to be comfortable. Some clothes have enough stretch built in that they can accommodate a thin underlayer. Women’s clothing seems to be very stretchy nowadays.

Boots that are intended for wearing with heavy wool socks or liners may need to be purchased 1/2 or even a full size larger than usual. If you are adding aftermarket insoles on top of the ones your boots come with, then you may want to go with the full size larger rule of thumb.

Are you ready for winter? Where do you find the best deals on winter gear?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]

Are you looking for more help with your Winter preparations? Get Backdoor Survival LIFELINE!

  1. This is a good reminder to all. If you have older or disabled family members, remember that they get cold much sooner than a healthy younger person and will need more to keep them warm.

  2. RE: PolyPro…
    PolyPro is an outdated synthetic fabric. That doesn’t mean it’s not still out there. You’ll more than likely find it in surplus stores or thrift stores where a ‘Joe’ (G.I.) has either donated it or the store bought ‘a lot’ of textile / clothing at a surplus auction.
    A couple of things to remember about PolyPro is (as mentioned) NEVER put it in the dryer, PERIOD! low-heat, tumble dry, etc, NEVER! It doesn’t matter, it’ll only take 1 time to forget to change the setting and Viola! your sz. XL PolyPro is now a med.small. (treat it like wool), plus after coming out of the washer after a spin cycle, it is literally almost dry enough to wear…really! so just hang it on a hanger and within an hour at room temp, it’ll be completely dry.
    Also, PolyPro is great at absorbing odor and oils. As a soldier, it didn’t matter cuz everyone else smelled too. lol. Have you ever seen on the news after an oil or chemical spill in either the streets or coastal waters and a Coastie or environmental employee / volunteer is throwing what looks like a white paper towel on the water? That’s a sheet of PolyPro. Again, it absorbs oils (body and mechanical) very well. This would not stop me from wearing PolyPro as a winter layer, in fact I still have several sets that I wear here in the far north and several still in wrap put away but when I buy new long johns, I avoid PolyPro primarily because, there is better stuff out there. Check out R.E.I. or Cabelas / Bass Pro for modern synthetics.
    One last warning: Synthetic clothing, both outer (fleece) and underwear, unless treated with fire retardant chemical (like USMC F.R.O.G. clothes), is very flammable. If you are on flight status, a volunteer fireman, etc, don’t wear it. This is where cotton or wool is a better under garment. Hope this helps.

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