It Is Cold-Ideas For Clothes

I live in the Canadian Prairies (Saskatchewan) and it gets COLD here. My go-tos:
Bottom half:

  • Wool trail socks (I get mine at Costco but they do wear out every year). These go up over top of my base layer pants
  • Insulated Bog boots (good to -20) or Kamik winter boots for colder days
  • Paradox base layers for really cold days (top and bottoms again from Costco)
  • Fleece lined riding tights (I have Kerrits)
  • Carhartt fleece lined work pants
  • ski pants for REALLY cold days

Top half:

  • Tank top/undershirt
  • Paradox base layer or other long sleeve wool shirt
  • vest (I have a packable down for warmer days and a Canada goose down for cold days). I also have a heated vest for days when I will be outside for hours on end.
  • Marmot brand down filled coat that goes past my bum for cold days OR packable down coat for warmer days
  • Fleece lined gloves (SSG brand) or fleece lined mitts (the Bay olympic collection) for warmer days OR I have a pair of heavy duty mitts that have individual fingers inside but are a mitten on the outside for really cold days. I also have a pair of heated glove liners for really cold days when I’ll be outside for a long time.
  • Watuko winter extreme gater (like this: with another scarf on top if really cold
  • fleece headband (can go under helmet)
  • fleece lined toque

Typing that all out… it’s all about the layers. I also keep spare gloves, scarfs, and hats along with a blanket in my vehicle just in case and my locker at the barn has spares of the above plus socks, leggings, tank top, and mid-weight coat to change into if I get wet to the bone.

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I had a riding skirt made last winter - best thing ever! I wear my normal breeches with a pair of long underwear (doesn’t have to be my warmest ones) and the skirt over top when in the saddle. I don’t notice that it’s on except that my butt and thighs aren’t freezing.

A fleece helmet cover keeps my ears and jawline from getting cold. Either a lightly quilted jacket (Kerrits) or a vest depending on the temperature cover a base layer shirt and can be unzipped or removed as I warm up.

I’m still working on the right boots. Since getting my skirt my toes are the only part of me left that gets cold. The skirt almost makes riding in the Canadian prairie winter enjoyable!

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Under Armour Base 4.0 is absolutely the warmest long underwear out there. I run very very cold and I don’t even wear it unless its below 20 degrees AND I’m in an indoor that doesn’t hold any heat. I’ve never found anything else that runs the risk of making me too warm (something I always thought was impossible since I prefer it to be 80 degrees). They also have 3.0 and 2.0 if the 4.0 would be too warm.

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Thanks, guys. I have a much better idea of what I am going to need.

Where did you get your riding skirt? I saw some on etsy and there’s a local lady who makes “outdoor” skirts that might do the trick…

I have eyed them up but haven’t made the leap yet to purchase!

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Here is one:

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Ooh, forgot about riding skirts! They can double as a quarter sheet for the horse too.

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I discovered ski shirts this year and they are a game changer. Designed for sport but fleecy and super warm. I get mine from Decathlon and with Covid this year preventing many from skiing there seem to be a lot of good sales out there.

And like everyone else said, the winter tights under breeches!

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for riding i prefer as lightweight and non-restrictive as possible. I wear long sleeve wicking T then old lightweight alpaca sweaters under puffy DOWN filled jacket. Pants are a lightweight thermal with outlayer of usually Fogtogg pants. Feet are two layers of socks then either muckboots (hosier) or this new pair of ovation blizzard boots. Silk scarf around my neck, then a baclava, then my helmet. By the time i’ve saddled up i usually need to unzip jacket and take of baclava and stuff into my pocket. Dressed like this i can be outside all day long in 20 degrees.

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I am fortunate to have a mother with mad sewing skills who is used to creating what I design. I had seen the skirts by Arctic Horse (who are taking a year off from manufacturing) and modeled it after one of their designs. Full circle skirt with a 2 way zipper up the front, waistband with a velcro attachment so that it fits over anything I’m wearing, and of course, big pockets. We made it with a softshell and polar fleece lining.

If you know someone who sews it probably wouldn’t be that hard to make.

Here are some rather unflattering photos!


A few of the things that have helped me the most in my never-ending fight against the cold:

  • I use Roeckl Wismar winter gloves, which are nowhere near warm enough on their own for riding on the coldest days, but are reasonably warm and are the most flexible truly winter gloves I’ve found. I buy them a half size bigger than my usual size and stick toe warmers (the smaller ones, with adhesive, which I buy by the box) into the insides of the palms, so my hands wrap around them directly when I hold the reins. Makes a huge difference and is actually warmer than thicker gloves.

  • I invested in a super expensive but super effective pair of battery-heated socks (the brand is Lenz) a number of years ago, and they changed my life. I keep them on a low power, which doesn’t keep my toes toasty but keeps them thawed, and that way the batteries (which snap to the socks and therefore work only in my Ariat winter riding boots, not my regular tall boots) last for many hours. I use them every day all winter, and they were totally worth the exorbitant amount I paid for them.

  • I have a Skhoop insulated skirt (not a riding skirt)(, which is far warmer than insulated pants. It zips fully up the sides, and is easy to take on and off over boots and spurs. It doesn’t help for riding, but makes a HUGE difference between horses and while doing barn stuff. It’s so great that now at least 5 other women at my barn now have one! (I also have an Arctic Horse riding skirt - not currently available, though hopefully they will be again someday - that is a huge circle and acts also as a quarter sheet, but I use that only for hacking and the first few minutes of warmup; I can’t do lessons or training rides in it, and i find it too bulky for chores).

I also have a long parka ( ) and various shorter insulated jackets that I can layer under it if necessary, a windproof fleece for under those, and base layers under those (I like Arcteryx a lot), as well as winter breeches, but those have been covered pretty well already. The three things above are the ones that havent been mentioned that have made the most difference for me.

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On top of all these good ideas, I will add that when I drive to the barn, I always put my tall insulated boots (mountain horse) in the well of the passenger seat, with the heat on…so they are really toasty inside when I get to the barn and put them on.


I was doing thermal underwear but I started using panty hose instead because I was having trouble zipping my tall boots. I found some that are carpris so they don’t pull on my toes.

I also have neoprine toe warmers. They are almost as good as hot hands, but ultimately they are cheaper and more eco friendly. Plus they fit in boots better.

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I work outside in MT, and will (very lightly) ride into low teens/single digits. Apologies if I’m over-explaining, but when I worked in the outdoors industry I was always surprised how many active hikers didn’t know the basics of layering (which is the same for all winter sports). In general, if you’re sweating you should remove a layer. If you can’t remove it (like socks) make extra sure you’re using fabrics that can insulate while damp, like wool. And be careful of over-layering, since a lot of fabrics work best by trapping heat in air pockets and won’t work as well if they’re compressed (again, socks especially). Besides breeches and gloves, I don’t bother with equestrian-designed stuff because I can find better layers for less in REI or sports stores.

In your “deepest”/next to skin layer, you want something that wicks moisture away- things like merino wool, silk, or certain synthetics. Most sporting goods stores will have a variety of these at different warmth levels, like Under armour, or REI brand is also pretty affordable. For me, a thin base layer under winter breeches is about all I can fit in my tall boots, but that’s usually enough if the breeches have some wind blocking. My favorites are Kerrits, and Horze Active Grip (got these last ones recently so I can’t speak to long term wear, but they’re hella warm).

Middle layer is your insulation, where the majority of warmth is coming from. This layer traps all the body heat you generate, and can be summed up as the “fluff” layer. Fleece, thicker wool, and down all work, but again the point is you need some level of air pockets in the fabric- stacking insulation layers is ok, but not if they’re starting to get tight. Vests are a great way to beef it up without giving you Christmas Story arms, and core heat is the most important to trap. Always avoid cotton because it doesn’t insulate when wet, and it holds onto any dampness.

Last is wind/rain proof layer, which may be combined with the middle layer (softshell fabrics are usually wind- but not rain-proof and work great for indoors). This is the layer I usually wind up taking off after warm up on all but the coldest days.

Other basics are that you lose the most heat from your head and feet. Personally, I use thin wool socks (ski socks are great for this), and wear the Arctic Chill Muck Boots until I’m ready to get on. If it’s freezing, I’ll slap some toe warmers on (as long as your socks aren’t crazy thick, they should fit), and very occasionally I’ll sandwich my toes between them. For head, I like a thin polar fleece ear warmer under my helmet, or occasionally a buff (I can’t fit fleece under my helmet). The cycling world has a number of helmet liners that work well. And neck gaiters, scarves, and buffs can help trap heat from escaping over your throat, as well as give some extra insulation around the zipper areas.

For hands, I tack up in wool convertible gloves/mittens, then switch to SSG insulated gloves to ride in (I don’t like anything too bulky, or I can’t feel very well). Again, ski gloves are great for barn work since they’re designed to resist wetness.


For all of you wearing tights under your regular breeches, do you buy a size up for winter riding breeches? I have what I consider to be fairly baggy (i.e., not skin tight) breeches and I cannot imagine riding with tights under - my crotch would be absolutely shot. Same with jeans if I want to stick a base layer underneath (admittedly my jeans are tighter than my breeches).

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For warmer hands, try wearing nitrile exam gloves under your regular gloves. I got the idea on COTH and the past two days were 15 w wind chill feeling like -2 and sure enough my fingers never got cold. Was out in the barn for an hour at a time. And so warm I could take off my outer glove and the nitriles were enough for working for a bit and stayed feeling good.


I wear the same breeches year round. They are Piper knit full seats, so maybe they have more give than regular breeches, and they aren’t super tight on my to begin with, but not baggy at all. I just make sure any seams don’t like up with the breeches seams, and that they’re footless, so they don’t pull down (might not be a problem for shorter legs)


I tend to wear my long underwear with my fleece winter breeches that are already generously sized. The Kerrits just go s m l xl, but the Horze fleece are the same numbered size as my summer breeches in other brands, just much more generous!

Whether I can fit long underwear under my summer breech collection depends on the cut of the breech, the material, and how fluffy I am at the time. I do find that with my lower rise breeches the long underwear pulls up and out so there’s no double material around my waist but my snugger high rise breeches won’t take long underwear. And then a friend did give me some breeches a size too big for me and too small for her :wink: and they are perfect for long underwear in fall. Not sure I would have bought them new, but if a pair fall in your lap, it’s worth trying.


uniqlo heattech base layers are an absolute lifesaver. At close to freezing temperatures I can easily ride with the extra warm base layer, a thin (non-down) vest and a spring puffer on top without any risk of getting cold. I love them so much I got like 5 and use them for home wear too. They each run between $20-30 and are totally worth the price.

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I use tight fitting long Johns and the same size fleece lined breeches as I have for normal breeches. If it’s in the 30s I use lightweight silk as the base layer. Below that I use a heavier base layer.
I also use silk sock liners and glove liners…great for wicking away sweat.