When the weather turns cold, choosing the right winter gear is the difference between owning the cold and the cold owning you. Insulation and warmth are important, but there are other things to think about when choosing the right cold weather clothing. Check out our guide to getting cold weather gear that’s not too hot, not too cold but just right!

Very Cold + Very Active

If you’re going to be hiking a long, uphill trail, your body is going to generate a lot of heat. You’ll still want insulated cold weather clothing to protect you, but you’ll want to stay away from the heaviest insulation that makes you too warm and restricts your body movement with thick layers.

You want a breathable material, like softshell jackets, that allows sweat to evaporate. Moisture trapped against your body makes you feel much colder, even with a heavy jacket keeping the cold out, so look for gear with insulation and breathability.

Cold + More Active

Temperature swings between 20-40 degrees are hard to plan for if you’re hiking 5 miles. That’s why dressing in layers is important.

If temperatures are on the colder side, you can wear an uninsulated softshell jacket or a quilted puffer jacket starting out, but then shed these for a moisture-wicking base layer with a sweatshirt later in the day.

Very Cold + Less Active

Outdoor activities like ice fishing or camping may not require a lot of vigorous activity that created body heat. If you’re engaging in a less strenuous activity, choose winter outerwear that will provide the most protection from the elements, including wind and rain.

Less movement also means heavier materials won’t get in the way. Consider an insulated winter coat or bib overalls combined with base layers for the most protection and comfort. Also choose headwear that covers your ears and a functional collar that you can pull up around the sensitive neck area.

Very Cold + Less Active + Long Exposure

Cold weather clothing is a necessity if you like to fish or ride your motorcycle year-round. You may not do these activities when the temperature is below freezing, but consider that the longer you are exposed to even moderately cold temps or wind chills, the more uncomfortable you’ll be.

In this case, choose winter outerwear that is rated for temperatures 10-20 degrees colder than the actual temperature. You may be a little warm at first, but after hours of exposure, you’ll be thankful for the extra warmth.

Remember to keep your intensity level in mind when looking for winter outerwear for outdoor activities. After all, you want to focus on having fun rather than what you are wearing. Your comfort depends on it!