Keeping Warm in the Deep Freeze of Winter

Thermometer cold weatherIf you work outside, extreme temperatures can make your job much harder on your body. Whether it’s plus 35 degree heat with humidity, or minus 20 degree cold with a windchill, it’s much harder to work outside in extreme weather. The good thing about extreme cold weather though, is that there are more things you can do to keep warm than there are to cool down in the extreme heat, and with the right gear it’s possible to work outside on even the coldest day in relative comfort. Here are the best ways to stay warm when the weather’s cold.


The best piece of advice for staying warm in really cold weather is to wear layers. This is especially true if your job has you going between outside and inside on a regular basis. On deep cold days you will want to have 4 layers – a moisture-wicking inner layer, a light insulating layer, a heavy insulating layer, and a wind/waterproof layer. When you go from outside to inside, you can remove the heavy insulating layer and the wind/waterproof layer and be comfortable in both environments.

Thermal underwear

Stay Dry

Waterproof your boots so that they aren’t letting moisture in and chilling you from the outside. Wear water repellant or water resistant outer layers to avoid getting damp and chilly. Even more important than keeping water from getting in is what to do with the moisture created by sweating. That’s why the moisture-wicking inner layer is the most important layer you put on. This layer includes anything directly touching your body. Socks, underwear, and thermal underwear/long johns should all be comprised of material that wicks moisture away from your body – these should be made of synthetic materials and never, ever cotton. Gloves should be waterproof and warm while still allowing flexibility.

Keep your Head Warm

As much as 50% of your body heat is lost through your head. Even if you’re wearing layers and doing everything else right, if you’re not wearing a hat, you’re going to be cold. If your job requires a hard hat, you can wear a balaclava or other close-fitting head covering under the hard hat, if not, choose a warm hat, preferably with ear flaps to keep you warm.

By dressing correctly for the weather, using layers and keeping out moisture, it is possible to stay warm while working outside on even the coldest of days.

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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.