Having returned from a fairly exhausting trip to Gulmarg recently, I realised that all the years of going to beaches and dive resorts had left me rather ill-prepared for the cold weather. And when I say cold, I mean proper sub-zero temperatures for days, accompanied by even chillier nights. Gulmarg, in January, is a place where even a sunny day clocks in at -70C, where it snows and rains through the season, so there’s a high chance of being caught out in the wet and cold. Even if you do sweat, it risks freezing on your clothes, further adding to your misery.
The spectacular snowy setting of Gulmarg, of course, more than makes up for all the discomfort. If by any chance you would want to make a trip there, or any other snowy place in the country or abroad, here is a list of things that you must have in your wardrobe, so that unlike me, you are better prepared. It’s not a definitive list, and people living in warmer climes wouldn’t see the point in investing in this, but just one basic set would suffice, and you needn’t buy top brands to get it right.
Base layers: Staying warm is all about layering. Rather than one thick blanket of a jacket, it’s always better to have multiple layers, which leaves open the option to remove some if it gets warmer. Also, layers trap heat and insulate better than a single layer. Importantly, avoid cotton, because it might do well with soaking up the sweat, but isn’t always great at wicking it away from the body, so as one cools down, this sweat can feel cold against the skin.
My picks: Columbia Omni-Heat 3D, Uniqlo Extra Warm Heattech.
Fleece: Pullover, full-zip, anorak, hoodie, no matter the format (although I prefer hooded versions), they make for a super middle layer of insulation. It’s a great way to stay warm, and fleece teams up well with base layers and shell jackets. Also, it feels soft and warm to touch, which is always good.
My picks: The North Face, Mammut, Napapijri, Patagonia, Arc’teryx.
Waterproof Pants and Jacket: There is nothing worse than outer layers that get wet. Gore Tex is the gold standard for waterproof-yet-breathable clothing, and many brands incorporate this technology into their gear. Lesser expensive alternative also exist but remember, water-resistant is not the same as waterproof.
My picks: Spyder, Moncler, Arc’teryx, Owney, Volcom, Patagonia, Wedze by Decathlon, Kosha Ski Pants, Wildcraft Hypadry.
Headwear, Socks, Gloves: Extremities are the first to feel the cold, so you need to make doubly sure that they are cosy. The right kind will block wind and also have some internal insulation. Sweating, in such cases, is unavoidable, so it’s always good to dry them inside out after every sortie.
My picks: Volcom, Mammut, Rossignol, Uniqlo Heattech, Decathlon Wedze, Columbia.
Shoes and Sunglasses: Boots that enable you to walk steady on ice are indispensable. Slippery ice can be a hazard, and a good pair of boots (preferably high, insulated, and with Vibram soles) that provide decent traction in the most trying conditions, are a good investment. The good bit is that these boots can often be used for summertime treks too. As for sunglasses, there is nothing worse than being blinded by the white of endless expanses of snow. Also, how else will you look cooler than the slopes for social media?
My picks: For Footwear – Salomon, Lowa, Fischer, Merrell, On Running, Kamik, Columbia. For eyewear – Oakley, POC, Bolle, Rossignol, Scott, Smith