It may be the start of the spring semester at Northeastern, but balmy spring weather is still many months away on the Boston campus. Don’t let the cold deter you from spending time outside though, especially as a safer way to socialize during the pandemic. Here are some tips on how to stay warm from a Northeastern engineer, Vikrant Shah, who traveled to Antarctica as part of the Field Robotics Lab to investigate the effects of climate change on penguin populations.
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Gloves & Mittens
Here’s a pro-tip! If your torso is warm—like really warm—your hands and feet won’t get cold. If your core gets cold, warmth flowing to your extremities gets shut off to save resources for keeping your vital organs toasty. Hand-warmers are a good way to keep your fingers dexterous, says Shah. But layering up on sweaters and a wind-resistant coat will be more sustainable.
Chicago might be called the “Windy City,” but Boston is actually the windiest city in the United States with the fastest wind speeds of any metropolitan area. That’s why it’s important to keep your face covered on blustery days. Perhaps one silver lining of the pandemic—“Everyone’s wearing face masks right now anyway,” says Shah. Put your mask to work this winter to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep your nose and cheeks warm! It might be worth investing in a mask made of thicker fabric; ski masks also do the trick!
Layering is paramount when it comes to keeping your body warm. Breathable fabrics will keep you warm while preventing you from perspiring if you’re transitioning from the cold outdoors to warmer indoor settings (you know that just-climbed-three-flights-of-stairs-in-a-parka sweaty feeling on the way to class). If you do start sweating, it can be difficult to dry off, which can make you cold once your body cools down, Shah says.
For footwear, Shah says waterproof boots are a must, especially during the slushy winter months. Wool socks are also essential. Unlike cotton, wool maintains its insulating properties even if moisture gets inside the shoe—from snow or sweat!
Sometimes sacrificing fashion for function is necessary for staying warm. “I have the ugliest aviator hat—the kind with the fur and the ear flaps—but this way I don’t have to worry about my ears getting cold, although sometimes it is hard to hear!” Shah says.