When the cold weather comes in hard, it's safer to stay inside and let it pass. But for those who want to experience the outdoors as it truly is, here are a few tips that can make it beyond tolerable, and quite fulfilling.
First of all, forget about fashion. We have one goal here: be comfortable as Mother Nature relentlessly tries to steal your heat.
Take a tip from the wild animals out there: think calorie count. Am I burning more than I'm consuming? When the cold weather first came in, mammals stayed sheltered to preserve their energy. But as soon as temps rose from negative and single digits into double digits, the need for calorie replenishment grew, and deer began browsing, squirrels began hitting the bird feeders again. So don't over-exert, but don't just sit still either. Moderate continual movement is good.
Fingers and toes are the first to get cold because your body senses heat loss and consolidates to the core: protect the heart and brain. When this happens, move these extremities around, or use commercially available warmers. Our ancestors didn't always have the luxury of a warm house and stocked pantry, but you can afford to burn more calories than you consume. If you are standing in snow, can you stand where the heat drain is less? Clear snow to stand on wood or a dry forest floor.
Mittens are better than gloves, but light gloves inside capacious mittens are even better. Insulated boots like Sorrels (fat boots that the ski operators wear) are best.
Wind chill factor is real; this accounts for the fact that wind has additional cooling effect, so cover your skin. This is one reason the gloves and mittens combo is so effective. If you have to expose your bare hands to the cold to get into the food or into a pack, they will get stinging cold quickly. Cover it up.
It's true that heat loss happens out of the head most of all. Always wear a good hat.
For the rest of your clothes, think layers. Layers work because they help trap the heat in air space between your body and the cold. Close to the body I like a tight fitting, long sleeve Underarmor workout shirt and long underwear. The next layer should be a tight weave wool or synthetic fabric to hold the warmth close: a good wool shirt, and soft cuddly pajama bottoms for the legs because we'll cover them with windproof baggy ski pants. Another layer on top such as a down jacket or comfortable wool sweater that opens at the neck to regulate heat are good. The final layer should be highly wind resistant. Keep that heat in the house!
Food can help: if your venture outdoors includes a picnic, soup or hot cider can add heat to your insides, warming those fingers and toes in minutes. https://www.agordon.com/hubfs/Winter%20picnic%20group.jpg
Alcohol does NOT help. It's true that a slug of booze may make you feel warmer, but what's happening is your capillaries dilate from alcohol, sending more blood to your skin. This makes you feel warmer, but has a tremendous cooling effect on your core temperature. Alcohol risks hypothermia, and if you become impaired, you may not recognize the difference between emerging hypothermia and an alcohol buzz-on. A little schnapps or hot wine is a tasty treat when recreating outside, but beware how far you take this. Alcohol can be deadly in the cold.
Shivering is the first sign your body gives to lower than optimal core temperature. If you can, get inside, get warm, and drink hot water or soup.
The animals outside deal with the cold all winter long, and it makes them resilient. Spending a little time in minor discomfort can be invigorating. Spending time outside without discomfort is even better.