Commentary

What to wear when the temperature drops

Updated: October 15, 2008, 8:37 PM ET
By Jay Corbin | ESPNRISE.com

Editor's note: ESPN RISE's Sneaker Sensei has our feet covered. This month, he branches out to let us know what to wear to stay warm as the temperature drops.

[+] EnlargeUnder Armour
Under ArmourA close-fitting base layer will keep you warm all winter long.
When engaging in any athletic outdoor activity during the winter months, there are two things that will ensure you maintain optimal performance: staying dry and warm. In the past, it was thought that the more layers you put on, the warmer you'd be. There is some truth to that adage, but it doesn't take into consideration that all the heat you've built up under those layers causes perspiration, which leads to wetness (not to mention added weight). With today's apparel technology, less is absolutely best, and I'm going to give you some insight on how to dress in the cold.

First layer
When taking part in any cold-weather activity, your first (or base) layer is your foundation and the most important part of staying dry and warm. Leading manufacturers have engineered material that transfers or "wicks" sweat away from the skin, thus keeping you dry while circulating heat throughout the body. Your base layer should be snug-fitting and close to the skin so the material can do its job. Under Armour and Nike Pro both offer good options for base layers.

Second layer
Once you have a good first layer, your selection of a second layer will depend on your activity level. When playing winter action sports, you want to wear a shell that is both lightweight and waterproof. Not only do you want to wick the sweat away, but also keep moisture from the snow from coming in. The best material for this would be GORE-TEX, a laminated material proven to be breathable and at the same time waterproof and windproof, thus making it ideal for action sports. Some of the industry leaders in second-layer apparel are Burton and North Face.

Gloves
BurtonThe type of gloves you'll need will depend on your activity.

Accessories
Now that we've covered the body, we can't forget about the head, hands and feet. Your choice of hats, gloves and footwear depends on your activity. When selecting a hat, always take into consideration that the majority of body heat lost comes from the head. Finding a warm hat with sweat-wicking ability is important. As for gloves, cotton shells are best unless you plan to be in contact with the elements; then a breathable, waterproof model may be in order. From my experience, wool socks work best when snowboarding. Even if your boots are waterproof, you have to let your feet breathe and get rid of all extra moisture.

Jay Corbin is the lifestyle editor of ESPN RISE Magazine.