Prepping for Winter

Image of supplies needed for winter

As we are settling into November, the dreaded Michigan winters are rapidly approaching. For many of us, we have our own ways to deal with the cold, but for those who are looking for a little extra guidance, I will be explaining the top three things I needed to survive the winter.

Of course, we all know that items such as hats, gloves, scarves, etc. are a must during the winter, but I cannot stress enough the importance of a good coat. For me, having a warm, wind-blocking coat was not a necessity until I came to college. High school offered me the luxury of minimum exposure to the icy winds as I shuffled from the parking lot to the building. However, at such a large and spread-out university, students are often walking anywhere between five and 20 minutes to get to class. 

Some criteria that my winter coats must check off are:

  • Keeps out the wind. I have had coats in the past that are unable to fully block the wind, and trust me the extra function of an airtight coat makes all the difference in below-freezing weather
  • Waterproof. There is nothing worse than walking through a snowstorm and freezing to the core due to a wet coat. With all the snowfall, you will want to make sure you are keeping out additional moisture.
  • Has Pockets. I have found that most gloves I have used in the past, no matter how thick, still manage to let warmth escape. Having pockets is a great plus for keeping your hands out of the cold, as well as its storage abilities.
  • Goes Down to the Knees. Admittedly, this criteria is not a necessity for everyone, but I personally find it easier to deal with the cold with a longer jacket. I am able to keep a good chunk of my legs out of the cold, which is a plus to me.
  • Lightweight. Again, this is not a necessity, but having a lighter jacket makes life just a little bit easier when traveling between classes. Heavy jackets are harder to maneuver around in and generally take up a lot of space, which can be annoying in tightly seated lecture halls.

Some of my personal brand suggestions are Moosejaw, Eddie Bauer, and The North Face. If you are trying to shop for winter items on campus, Moosejaw and Bivouac are great options.

Not only is a good winter coat essential for surviving cold Michigan winters, but also a good pair of winter boots. When it comes to boots, there are such a great variety available. Nonetheless, there are certain functions some boots have that make it ultimately superior to other boots. Many of my personal criteria are quite similar to my coat criteria:

  • Waterproof. I cannot stress this quality enough. Having wet feet on a cold, snowy day is the absolute worst feeling. Essentially, your feet will become icicles, and it will take a while before you can feel your toes again. Keeping your feet dry plays such a big part in keeping your feet warm. Further, it will be easier to clean off the salt stains that one often gets on their boots after walking through snowy areas.
  • Tall. With Michigan winters, you never know just how much snow you are going to get. I like to buy boots that are in it for the long haul. Snowfall can get heavy sometimes in Michigan, so having boots that are tall enough to walk through the snow without snow getting inside the boot is vital. 
  • Inner Insulation. As silly and obvious as this characteristic might sound, some boots are made with the mindset of “fashion over function,” so not all boots are designed to keep your feet warm. A boot with great insulation will ensure that you will not lose feeling in your toes.

Brands such as The North Face, Columbia, Sorel, and Timberland’s are popular choices for many students on campus. Again, Bivouac is a great place for on-campus shopping. If you are willing to leave campus, the Briarwood mall has a variety of options for winter gear.

Many of us are familiar with the wonderful invention that is hand warmers, my third and final winter item. For those that do not know, these little (mostly disposable) packets contain air-activated chemicals that produce heat. Hand warmers are most commonly used in outdoor activities such as skiing or snowboarding, but I like to keep a couple on hand for the insanely cold winter days. Not only are hand warmers great for the negative degree weather, it is a lifesaver for when I am unable to use my gloves (misplaced, soaked, whatever the reason). It is almost like having a little heater in my pocket, and it gets me through those long winter days.

If you have never experienced a Michigan winter, hopefully this guide has provided some insight and better prepares you for the next six months that is to come. Dress in layers, drink some hot cocoa, and stay warm, Wolverines.