Vegan Cold Weather Clothing
Dressing for seriously cold weather in clothing without any animal products.
Not all vegan things are necessarily labeled as such. Wholly vegan brands tend not to do extreme cold weather gear, but extreme cold weather brands often do some vegan gear. Here are some suggestions of how to keep warm without any animal products in even the coldest weather.
Boots - Insulation from the cold ground is as important as insulation from the cold air
Thermal insoles - A good low-cost way of boosting the footwear you already have, no substitute for dedicated winter footwear though.Boots:
Substantial insulated soles are as important as insulated uppers and much heat can be lost through the bottom of the foot to the ground. For the coldest weather, boots have soft insulated uppers, and they are going to be big thanks to the sole and insulation.
Kamik Momentum2 - Women's - vegan
-40F / -40C Waterproof boot with lace closure, grippy tread, 8 colors!
Kamik Oslo - Men's - vegan
Rated -75F / -60C, 100% nylon upper, synthetic sole
Brands: Boots are the hardest items of cold weather clothing to find much choice for vegans, some are almost there but not quite.
Foundation / Base Layer
- Provides Insulation and wicks sweat
away from the skin.
The foundation layer next to the skin is important because with so much clothing on top, sweat can build up leading to a feeling being cold and clammy, especially when resting after activity. So the foundation layer needs to be made of an effective wicking material as well as providing a good layer of insulation.
The main thing is to avoid cotton which is really bad at wicking and instead choose synthetics such as polypropylene and polyester.
Layering - The point of layering is that the different layers have different functions, it's not simply about lots of layers irrespective of what the layers are. It may seem obvious, but layers need to be on the top and legs too, shorts or skirts can't be compensated for by 3 top layers and a parka.
The Outer / Shell Layer
- the first line of defence against the
weather. This layer NEEDS to be windproof and may be
waterproof, though this is less important below freezing
point. It can be simply a "shell" with no insulation
or more commonly with insulation built in.
Insulating materials: Synthetic insulation has been developed for many decades and has become more effective, lighter, and more compressible while retaining it's major performance advantage over down which is that it is still effective while wet and dries out much quicker, so there is little compromise needed when choosing vegan here.
Manufacturers like to give their own proprietary insulating material fancy names and show lots of charts and graphs to back it up. All but the cheapest of modern synthetic insulation is good at its job these days. It's not only about the insulation though, look for storm flaps, good hoods, closeable cuffs and waist cords to batten down the hatches when needed and also the ability to open up and ventilate during exertion or when it warms up for a while.
Fjallraven Barents Parka
Waterproof, very warm, fully featured parka, cotton and polyester, faux fur
Arcteryx Fission SV Jacket
Waterproof breathable outer, synthetic insulation, fully featured
The North Face Thermoball Triclimate
Waterproof, breathable, stretch shell with a removable inner jacket
Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket - Women's
synthetic insulation, lightweight, long and very warm
Arctix Men's Performance Tundra Jacket
-20F to +35F range, lightweight, waterproof, synthetic insulation
Extreme Cold Weather Insulated Parka
not so pretty, but seriously warm, stowable hood, sized to fit over lower layers
Mid / Insulation
Layers - flexibility is a major factor
here to allow for cooling during exertion or in warmer
conditions, with the ability to wrap up warm when the
A variable layer that can be added or removed, unzipped, unbuttoned, sleeves rolled up or down etc. It should be layer of soft garments for comfort and for more effective insulation where the layers touch. Fastenings that can be adjusted are good and can allow the mid layer to become the outer layer during warmer conditions or when there is no wind.
Materials to avoid:
Upper body - thick shirts, sweaters and jackets long enough at the back to avoid exposed skin or lower layers during bending.
Lower body - Thick warm pants of heavyweight synthetic material such as polyester/cotton. Pants should be somewhat loose fitting and not tight as this allows a layer of air and doesn't restrict the circulation.. Denim is about the worst possible choice.
Bibs and overalls are particularly good, they add extra core insulation and keep you covered while bending or stretching.
Cargo or jeans style, cotton outer for everyday use but with a fleece lining for warmth
Extremities - head, hands and feet, ankles, wrists and neck.
One pair of winter weight insulating socks with maybe a thin liner pair and thicker over socks make a huge difference. Acrylic and polyester are effective materials and durable. Don't be tempted to wear too many pairs of socks, this will make your boots tight and squash the insulating air out, as well as making them uncomfortable. Modern cold weather boots have inbuilt insulation and are not intended to be worn with multiple pairs of socks.
Hands have a high surface area for a low volume so can get very cold very quickly. They don't need to be very cold before manual dexterity worsens. Sensor gloves allow you use your touchscreen device with the gloves still on.
Given the same materials and design, mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves. Layering should be used when it gets very cold, a light inner glove for handling ability and then a thicker pair of mitts over the top. The outer layer can be additionally insulated or just a weatherproof layer, at least wind-proof and preferably water-resistant too.
There is no magical thin, ultra warm glove that is going to allow you full use of your hands down to minus stupidly cold, it's all a compromise.
Winter Touchscreen Gloves - Unisex
3 Fingers Warm Lined Anti-Slip Knit Texting Glove
Thickened Knit Winter Gloves
unisex, Touch Screen, Elastic Cuff
Burton Gore-Tex Mitts
Waterproof breathable mittens for serious conditions, synthetic leather palm
Rechargeable electronic hand warmers - Power packs that can be used for heat or battery back up for your phone
Putting on a hat is quick and easy and a very effective step to keep warm. It's not as immediately obvious an effect as putting on a parka and it doesn't always seem to be so necessary unless you have cold ears. If you are bare headed, you will be losing an awful lot of body heat that a hat can hang on to, they are also quick to take off again for flexibility, and allow greater freedom of movement and better vision than a hood. In less extreme conditions a hat alone is enough, as the temperature drops and wind picks up, use the hood on your shell garment over the top.
Style. Beanies are a very effective shape, they can easily be pulled over the ears, similar clean, plain shapes allow a hood to be pulled over and fit closely for better insulation. Bobbles or other "fun" parts make air spaces that reduce insulation. A personal favourite is a close fitting "windstopper" hat with ear flaps, small enough to easily fit in a pocket with a warmth far beyond its size and weight.
Balaclavas are a great choice, they can roll up as a hat or be pulled down to cover the face and neck.
Scarves must be of the right material and worn correctly
to get the best use from them. Cotton is useless here,
and acrylic not good enough, the scarf should be worn
under the shell garment and over the insulating layer
immediately beneath (like a turtle-neck) that so that
it restricts air movement and snow ingress as well as
providing extra insulation. A neck gaiter is a neater
version of a scarf, a tube of stretchy insulating material
than can be worn like a scarf or pulled up over the
lower part of the face.