The cold weather that has rolled through the New England area this week along with a “Blizzard Bomb Cyclone” from a month ago, has been quite extreme. When you own dogs that are used to going for daily walks and the high temperature for the day is 7 degrees, the owner (or dog walker) needs to dress appropriately. Tested during extremely cold weather and used at all day nose work trials, here are some favorite items that I use during extreme cold weather. I would love to hear from you what your favorite items are.
1. Eddie Bauer’s Polar Fleece Lined Pants for women - These pants block wind, repel light, rain, and snow, and are lined with fleece. I live in these pants in the winter! If you go up a size, you can wear thermal underwear as a base layer and your legs will not feel the cold. These pants are worth every penny. Dog hair and dirt will not stick to the fabric and as cargo style pants, they have multiple pockets. Flannel lined jeans just don’t block the wind. (For men, look for “Men’s Lined Guide Pants”)
2. L.L. Bean’s Sweater Jacket Fleece Jacket – perfect for layering under a winter coat but able to stand on its own when there isn’t an Arctic blast in your region. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors.
3. Socks – I prefer wool and will change my socks often when at a winter Nose Work Trial. I was recently given a pair of Alpaca socks which are incredibly soft and did a nice job of keeping my feet warm. I like the Alaskan Knits brand found at Target. These wool socks are made in America! You need to check the wool content on the package because the solid colors will have more wool than the patterned sock. This brand is now available online at Target but I prefer to go to the store as they always seem to be on sale when I visit.
4. Coat – I’ve worn different length coats made from different materials over the years but the one that has kept me the warmest has been my knee-length goose down coat. When I walk the dogs or if I am standing around outside, my legs usually become cold first. With a knee length coat, I’m warm and I can’t feel the bite of the wind. I have had my current coat for so long that I can’t put a link up for it. What I think every knee length coat should have is the following: two-way zipper, snap buttons (just in case you are too lazy to zip the coat closed), large removable hood and coat should be washable. There are non-down coats out there that state they are as warm as down. I would love to hear from people that use these coats and their experience with them.
5. Gloves, mittens and hand warmers - Mittens keep your hands the warmest but you are unable to use your fingers and when holding multiple leashes, can be cumbersome. I have been using wool fingerless mittens that I love made by Turtle Fur. They keep my hands warm in 30 degree weather but anything colder for an extended period of time, my fingertips go numb. I’ve been using Eddie Bauer’s down insulated gloves. These adequately protect my fingertips but not in extreme weather.
I was recently given a rechargeable hand warmer. This was a game changer for me! I have really enjoyed using this gadget. I can move it from pocket to pocket and can hold it on the outside of my gloved hand. It’s perfect in nearly every way except it is a bit slippery and I have dropped it a few times now. Problem solved when I placed it in the lined case it came with. It has three heat settings and it can also be used to charge your cell phone. Win-win!
6. Yak Tracks - Falling is for young people! Gravity hurts! You get the picture. Stay upright while walking on ice with Yak Tracks. Small enough to keep in your pocket should you encounter ice on the trail or icy sidewalks. There are a variety of brands but I’ve had this pair for over 6 years.
If properly outfitted, we can still get outside and get our dogs the exercise they need. What do you consider an essential winter item for walking your dog in cold weather? Don’t forget, dogs need protection, too! Do I feel another blog post coming on?