A blogger friend of mine had recently moved to the Midwest and, even after being in the US for a few years, was not totally prepared to face the wicked winter. That got me thinking. Maybe I should publish a cold weather clothing checklist that could be used by people to prepare themselves before they arrive in the cold.

Keep in mind that the cold I’m talking about here is sub zero Celsius (32 deg F and lower).

If you are planning to spend more than 5 mins in the cold, the following items will make it easier (note: you will not really be comfortable in your first winter!).

Let’s start from the very bottom …

- You’ll need a good pair of sturdy boots, preferably snow boots. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but I was culpable of not having one initially. (I still don’t have an actual pair of snow boots…)

- Woolen socks to go with the boots.  When you buy the boots, try it on with the woolen socks on – this will prevent you from buying your “regular” sized boot and not account for the thickness of the socks.

Moving up …the lower torso – waist down

- Start with your, you guessed it, underwear. Now if you are a woman, that’s the only piece of underwear you’ll need. If you’re a man, put on another pair of underwear. Why you may ask? Short answer, your balls will thank you. There is a biological reason men have scrotum outside their body. Basically the testicles are kept at a lower temperature than the body. Now, when you’re in a really cold temperature guess what happens? The testicles want to maintain their temperature and will get as close to your body as possible.

- Put on inner thermal pants.

- Your outer pants – preferably jeans or thick cords.

- Last one, I wouldn’t say this is necessary, but if you’re really cold, ski pants or  snow pants are the way to go. Now don’t buy them from India or California! Come to the cold place and see if you can survive without them. Ski pants are eponymous. They are worn by people who are skiing or snow boarding.  Snow pants are typically worn by people who work outside for a living, in the snow. I have a pair of ski pants that I put on when I’m out shoveling or going to a football (soccer) game or dropping Brinda off at daycare in the morning.

Moving further up ….upper torso

- Again, start with your underwear/undershirt.

- Put on a long sleeve t-shirt or thermal t-shirt.

- A warm woolen sweater or a cozy hoodie.

- Top it up with a down jacket. Make sure this is of a name brand such as North Face, Columbia, Timberland or such I’ve seen a  lot of Indians coming to the Midwest armed with a leather jacket as if the leather jacket is the only solution for cold. I’ve never had a leather jacket (for regular wear; I do have a leather motorcycle jacket). Leather jackets are expensive, bulky, sometimes smelly and do not offer as great of a protection than the down jackets.

- Warm gloves. Like the toes, these extremities feel the brunt of the cold and is very important to keep them protected. Now these might cost a pretty penny, but get one which has thinsulate/wool/fleece on the inside and leather (or some sort of substance other than wool) on the outside.

Ohkay! Upward north …

- A scarf (also known as a “muffler” to many Indians) will help prevent the wind from going into the layer of clothing you’ll be wearing.

- You need a good winter hat. A skiing hat or a trapper hat is a must. A warm head goes a long way in keeping in your body warm.

- Sun glasses, or ski glasses, will offer protection to your eyes.

- A balaclava ski mask (kind of like the Indian “monkey cap”) if you need nose protection.

And you are set!

In most cases, you won’t need to wear all the stuff mentioned above. Things starts to get dicey when the temperature falls to single digits, and then sub-zero (-12 deg C and lower). The good news is, it does get better in subsequent winters! The last time I wore thermals was 2 years ago when I attended an outdoor show for 3 hours in single digit temperatures.