As the cold Northern winds blow ushering in the winter months, it’s important to make sure you have what is needed to get through this cold time of the year. Having lived in Northern Ontario for more than a dozen years, I have several winter essentials. Some items help me combat the cold when I need to leave the house, while others are simply to keep cabin fever at bay. Ensuring that I have these and other items is an important part of getting ready for winter.
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To keep me sane and safe
The winter months are long. It can be easy to succumb to cabin fever or be affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to have items that will keep you happy and occupied throughout the season. To help you cope, doing an activity, such as planning your summer garden can help.
When it’s cold out, I want to drink something warm. Since I don’t care for coffee or tea, that leaves me with hot chocolate as my only option. My favorite is the chocolate bar-flavored hot chocolate mixes, especially the Turtles and Coffee Crisp flavors.
I read year-round. However, during the colder months of the year, I am spending more time inside and that means having extra time to read. Winter is the perfect time to reread an old favorite, for me that would be Black Beauty. Or perhaps it’s time to dive into that book that has been collecting dust for years – I’m looking at you Lonesome Dove.
The dry winter air is murder on my lips. That’s why lip balm is essential. But not just any lip balm will do. Over the years I have tried countless brands and the one I discovered works best is O My! Goat Milk lip balm. Even when my lips are extremely dry and cracked from wind and cold exposure, this lip balm gets them back into shape in no time. I only need to apply it a couple of times a day to keep my lips moisturized.
I may wear slippers throughout the year but they are an absolute must in the winter. Walking on cold floors is not something I enjoy, so a sturdy and warm pair of slippers are needed. I prefer the moccasin-style slippers, as they are snug on my feet and plenty warm.
We all know how quickly the sun fades during the winter months, so it’s important to have lights to keep you sane. A set of fairy lights strung across my bookshelves can help cheer me up while illuminating a part of the house.
Another way to pass the time is to play video games. I’m a big fan of World of Warcraft, a game I have been playing for about 15 years. Of course, I do play other games. I absolutely love playing Rune Factory 2 on my Nintendo 3DS. It’s a simple game but really does wonders to keep me entertained and pass the time during those long dark evenings.
While not necessarily a specific item, having hobbies to keep me occupied really helps pass the time. Especially once the evening hits and it feels like eternal darkness. Learning to crochet has helped fill in some time and I get useful items out of it.
For when I venture into the cold
Admittedly, there are times when it is simply too cold to go outside. However, there are also times when I need to venture out and sometimes those days can be quite chilly – around -40C/F. That’s why some of the most important winter essentials are to do with going outside.
I don’t know what I would do without my North Face winter jacket. It has served me well for many years and helps to keep me warm on even the coldest of days. If you live where it gets very cold, you want to invest in a high-quality winter coat. They can be pricey, but I can assure you when it dips down to -54C/-65F you will be glad you bought one.
I have seen people walk around with stylish winter coats where I live and they look miserably coat. Unfortunately, those fashion-centered jackets are not made for winter, at least not when it comes to extreme cold.
Much like having a good winter coat, a good pair of winter boots will see you through those cold days and nights. My Bogs are a necessary item for when I venture outside. Their slim fit makes them perfect for driving, as chunky boots can be difficult to fit in the vehicle, but are sturdy enough to handle all winter activities.
It’s important to check the temperature rating on your boots, as you want to make sure that they are rated for your coldest temperatures.
Now that my chest and feet are warm, it’s time to take care of my legs. That’s where fleece-lined pants come into play. For a number of years, I wore just regular pants during the winter and my leg froze! Then I discovered fleece-lined pants and I haven’t looked back. These are an absolute must for when the temperature dips below -30C/-22F.
Also sometimes called long underwear or thermal underwear. Despite wearing fleece-lined pants, some days it’s not enough to keep the cold at bay, especially when the winter wind is howling. So, this is why I have a pair of long johns. Put these under the fleece-lined pants and my legs stay toasty while I’m busy unburying us from the latest snowstorm.
With extreme temperatures comes the need for good gloves. I have found the best gloves for general use, whether shoveling snow or simply walking, are pigskin gloves that are lined with wool. They hold up well to most temperatures and keep my hands dry when shoveling wet snow. I will admit that when it dips down into dangerous levels, these gloves are not warm enough. In situations like this, if I am forced to go out, I will put a smaller pair of gloves under these to ensure my fingers stay warm.
It’s also important to have more than one set of gloves. That way when one gets cold or wet from being outside, you have another pair you can use if needed. The last thing you want to do is have to wear wet gloves when it’s cold out.
A heavy toque
To complete my outdoor gear, a toque is needed. Another option is to go with a trapper hat. I’ve never used this style of a winter hat, but I know plenty of people that swear by them.
Of course, winter means snow and that means plenty of snow shoveling. Since we don’t own a snowblower, having a good quality snow shovel is a must. In fact, with all of the shoveling we do, we own multiple shovels. This means the whole family can shovel at once, making it faster to clear the driveway.
Another important aspect is to ensure your vehicle is ready for winter. That way when you need to run to the store, you know it will start and be safe on the roads.
What winter essentials do you have? Anything you think I should add to make winters more enjoyable?