In my time at Maine Coast Semester, I’ve learned that layering is a necessity when going outdoors, especially on field and wilderness trips. Every trip and trick is important, some more than others, such as NEVER, EVER WEARING COTTON! If you do, and that clothing gets wet, you will never be warm until you replace it for something else. The ideal material to wear is either wool or synthetic, which drys quickly and insulates well, giving you enough space for your body to breathe, no matter how many layers you wear.
Protecting yourself from the elements is crucial when you’re outdoors for more than an hour, as we are on field trip (usually we’re out for around four and half hours). Maine winters can be very harsh, with snow, rain, sleet, hail, or sunshine, and everyone must be prepared for any of these conditions, sometimes a few on the same day.
A good base layer on a winter science field trip is long underwear (top and bottom), and/or fleece pants, depending on how easily you get cold, covered by rain or snow pants. On your feet you need to have wool socks, NO COTTON, and wearing more than one pair is always a good idea if you’re worried about your toes. For shoes, wear boots that can withstand a little water, but are preferably waterproof, (insulated-bean boots are always great). Torso is similar to legs – wear a base layer of long underwear (Under Armor works great), with a fleece or wool sweater over that. To top it off, wear either a winter jacket or a rain coat. Your hands need gloves; it’s best to wear skin tight gloves with mittens over that, so when you’re writing in your field journal you fingers aren’t exposed to the cold. Wear a hat that covers your ears. If it’s sunny you’ll want to be able to de-layer, and if it’s cold you’ll want extra layers to keep warm, so keep in mind other clothes you might need. If you’re walking somewhere, make sure not to sweat, so take more clothes off as you go if you need to. Sweating means being extra cold when you stop moving.
Science field trips are wonderful, they’re a great way to learn hands on and experience nature while gaining knowledge about it. However, trips are a lot worse if you can’t feel your fingers and toes, I know this from personal experience–I forgot to bring gloves several times and my hands were so frozen I couldn’t write in my field journal for longer than three minutes! Of course every student and teacher will be more than glad to lend you their warm mittens, but it’s best to bring your own. Be mindful what you wear and don’t worry about bringing too many layers, more is always better when it comes to warmth.
Ellie, Mount Desert Island High School, ME