Women’s Cold Weather Gear

Personal Note:

I’ve decided to not beat around the bush any longer. It’s going to come up in my writing here, so I should just mention it so y’all know what’s going on.   I’m expecting a little Calamity in the spring.  In May to be more precise.  Hubby and I are very excited. :-) Someone (OQ I think) mentioned being interested in a birthing after SHTF post, and I imagine I’ll touch on several aspects related to that over the next half a year.  As you might guess, I have opinions on the state of birthing in our country, and guesses about how things will go when $30K C-sections are no longer an option after a SHTF event.  I’m not going to write 100% baby posts for the next year, but I’m sure it will be on my mind.  So, y’all will just have to grin and bear it.

Now, on to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

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In my experience, women’s cold weather gear can be difficult to obtain. What I’ve ended up with is a mishmash of men’s gear and women’s gear that more or less fits my needs. Let’s start from the base layer.

Base layer – I like merino wool for my base layer. When it gets really cold, the only thing that seems to keep all my extremities warm is wool, merino is soft and not itchy.  I have a pair of men’s wool pants that I wear almost all winter.  Justin Charles wool pants, to be specific. I’m just about middle of the road (size wise) so ladies, if you’re on the tall side or the big side, I think you could find a pair of these that work for you.  If you’re on the small side, you might be out of luck. I fit in the smalls with a little room to spare, and small is the smallest size they carry.  A little room is good if there’s a chance you could become pregnant, I am hopeful I’ll get at least half way through the winter before I have to put these aside.  If you’re willing to order online, you can find women’s merino wool pants. Mens were all I could find in my area.   Sadly, the men’s wool shirts did not fit well, so I’m still without a wool top.  So far that hasn’t been a huge issue, but it is at times a tad frustrating.

Bibs or pants? – I’m a pants fan right now, mainly because of the childbearing thing.  Bibs cover too much of the tummy, and that’s no good for the weight changes  that come along with mommy-hood.  Pants fit better, for longer.  I make sure my parka is long enough to cover the pants, nobody likes a chill up the back.  I want to say the cold weather pants I have are mens, I bought them a few years ago, and I don’t remember them being ladies.  They are just whatever camo winter pant Cabelas was selling for a reasonable price.  I have noticed Cabelas and other outdoor outfitters are starting to carry women’s cold weather pants, but the selection is not as varied as the menfolk get.  Maternity cold weather pants are non-existent.  Sewing your own is a valid option, but like many things, the raw materials are hard to get your hands on.  JoAnns is my go to, they usually carry some nice fleece in one or two camo options, and duck canvas as well.  Make sure your sewing machine can handle those thick fabrics, and use a heavy needle too.

Socks – Yea, I’m all about wool for my socks too.  This is one where I don’t have trouble finding women’s sizes.  Our local farm store carries a ton of wool socks and I can always find nice soft thick ones that fit me.  Learning how to knit my own wool socks is on the to-do list. But, until I reach that point in my knitting skills, buying them isn’t too hard.

Parka – This is one where I only have it partially figured out.  What I have is a cold weather set that includes a zip out jacket and a over-coat-parka.  Again, just whatever Cabelas option was in stock a few years ago.  It’s flexible, if I only need one of the two components. Both work really well on their own, with nice features.  They keep me toasty warm when I have them both on. They don’t, however, fit over much baby bump.   They work great within 10 or 15 pounds of my healthy base weight, but over that and I’m out of luck.  That point will probably hit in my second trimester.  With the first baby I used my hubby’s spare coat for a while, and while that did keep me mostly warm, it was too big and bulky to be practical for any sort of hunting/skiing/hiking, which was a total bummer.  Again, the maternity coats available tend towards the cute over the heavy duty or practical.

Apparently it’s too much to ask that someone make a women’s cold weather set that can actual handle what women commonly go through. One of these days I’ll design and sew something and make a million bucks.  Until then, I recommend the ala cart method.  Buy each layer with an eye towards flexibility instead of looking for a ready made set. Don’t be afraid to try the mens section, especially if you need durable and -30 warm. Making your own can be a good option if you have the sewing skills to draft your own pattern and if you can handle the fabrics involved.

Any lady preppers out there with some good cold weather gear tips?

– Calamity Jane