Enjoy Winter! Use your noggin.

January 31, 2014

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

Mom was right:  “I don’t want you going outside without a hat.”  They say that we lose up to 90% of our body heat through the head.  That obviously varies from person to person.  When my hair was longer, I used to ski a lot with just a band to keep my ears warm.  Now that I keep my hair short, I definitely need a hat during cold weather.

Winter Hats

(From my selection of winter hats.)

Activity and temperature determines what hat I take off the peg in the morning.  For most things, I wear a wool stocking cap during the winter.  I can cover my ears if they get cold.  Or I can sit it on top of my head like a beanie if I get too warm.  I have a lighter weight stocking cap for more strenuous activities like splitting wood.

If it is snowing, I have a wool cap with a visor (think Radar O’Reilly) to keep the snow off of my glasses.  I even have an Elmer Fudd cap with pull down ear flaps for cold and windy conditions.  Finally I have a fur “trooper” hat for extreme cold and stationary activities. Remember winter fashion is all about function.

In the past, I never cared for hoods.  They block my peripheral vision, and they really reduce hearing, but I finally discovered their utility. They help block the wind on my neck.  They also help regulate heat (and heat loss) from my head.  So, while I don’t use them a lot, I like having a jacket with a hood.

We can lose a lot of heat through our faces and it is really vulnerable to frostbite and cold damage.  I used to grow a beard every winter and it really protected my face from the cold and chapping.   Now I rely on a scarf, turtle neck, or high collar to cover my chin on exceptionally cold days.  A trick I learned a long time ago was applying hand lotion to my face as a barrier to the cold.  Sun block would accomplish the same thing and is probably better during the winter.  I have gotten sunburns (and probably windburn) on my face from skiing on blindingly sunny days.  In a pinch, I have  applied lip balm to my cheeks and nose.

A hat helps our body retain heat, but we don’t want our heads to get so hot that we take off the hat and get chilled.  So, the perfect hat helps us regulate our body’s heat based on what we are doing and how cold it is outside.  Mom and Randy Newman were right:  “You can leave your hat on.”