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New Challenges for Cold Weather Warriors

Sponsored by Athleta


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Head outdoors and learn a new sport this winter, and you'll enjoy benefits from boosting your immune system to improving your mood.

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Travel to Scandinavia, and you’ll hear variations on the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Athleta shares that philosophy with fitness gear designed specifically for cold weather training that never sacrifices style for performance.

When you are dressed for the season, there’s no reason to let chilly temperatures keep you and your crew inside. Head outdoors and you’ll not only enjoy spending time together, but as you hike a glacier or go skijoring through the woods, you’ll benefit from a secret of cold-weather exercise. With your body already working hard to stay warm, it’s like two workouts in one, complete with an extra rush of endorphins. Bundle up with the right gear and show winter you will not be deterred as you try an outdoor activity.

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Go North
One of the best places to embrace the spirit of winter is Iceland. Its otherworldly waterfalls and hot springs make hiking a popular activity for locals and visitors. The Solheimajokull glacier, about two hours south of Reykjavik, is a popular place to try glacier hiking. Many outfitters offer day-long ice-caving adventures at Vatnajokull, Iceland’s largest glacier, located on the island’s east coast. Few experiences compare to that of wandering through the surreally beautiful caves walled with ice. Athleta’s Snow Down Jacket made with convertible cuffs that turn into mittens and two oversized zip pockets to secure your essentials will keep you warm on and off the glacier. Dog-sledding is always a family favorite and Iceland has a number of operations that will let you head out with a team of huskies.

Many travelers are surprised to learn that Iceland, even in the middle of winter, doesn’t get as cold as, say, Montreal or New York. The wind blowing off the Atlantic, however, can be fierce. Those ocean breezes can also be dehydrating—take some water with you before you head out on your adventure, perhaps in a S’well bottle from their Traveler line.

Closer to Home
There’s more than one way that dogs can join in winter activities. In addition to being part of sled teams, they are also central to skijoring, where dogs pull a human on cross-country skis—like dog-sledding without the sled. If you are ready to get out there and try the sport, Montana’s Resort at Paws Up and Minneapolis’s Loppet Foundation offer skijoring classes throughout the winter.

While most experts advise that you should have at least some experience with cross-country skiing before you try skijoring, anyone can strap a pair of snowshoes on their feet—it’s (almost) as easy as walking. The Mountaineers, a non-profit organization located throughout the Pacific Northwest, offers classes throughout the winter to members (an annual individual adult membership is $75, a family pass is $130).

Whether you make your way through the woods on snowshoes or cross-country skis, you want gear that regulates your body temperature without constricting your movements. Athleta’s Alpine Valley Tight, made in a Fair Trade certified factory, is moisture-wicking and warm. Throw your essentials in a Fjällräven High Coast Trail bag and you’re good to go.

Make a Run for It
A family run along the multi-use Mid-Mountain Trail in Park City, Utah will not only provide an introduction to the joys of cross-country running in the winter, but also, since it sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet, offers the benefits of high-altitude training. For travelers headed to New York, or New Yorkers looking for a weekend getaway, Bear Mountain State Park (40 miles from the city) includes a variety of trails from easy to challenging.

Wherever you hit the trail, it’s all about layering with chafe-free seamless fabrics. Athleta’s Insulated Flurry Jacket is perfect for cold weather workouts and has two zip pockets to secure your essentials.

Winter Hikes
In Alberta’s Jasper National Park, you won’t spot any of the resident brown bears in the winter (they are hibernating), but caribou and elk will still greet you as you explore its network of hiking trails. While most of Yellowstone closes in the winter, one road remains open and the geysers never stop gushing. Warming huts also remain open when you need a break from the chill. A jacket or vest that is both lightweight and warm is essential for winter hiking adventures. Look for one that’s also abrasion and water resistant. Athleta’s Banner Peak Down Jacket keeps you comfortably outside longer, breathing that mountain air with waterproof FeatherDry down. 

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Winter is arguably the best time to visit the desert parks of the Southwest. While high temperatures can make extended hikes dangerous in the summer, visit in December or January and you can venture farther into the wilderness of Utah’s Zion National Park or the Grand Canyon in Arizona, where the occasional dusting of snow can make this natural wonder even more breathtaking. Whether hiking under the desert’s blue skies or exploring the snowy trails in northern states, a good sunscreen like the water-resistant Sun Bum SPF 30 will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.

Wherever you head in search of outdoor adventure this winter, Athleta has the gear you need to get out and embrace the cold. Or you can choose a different plan, and pursue summer in the southern hemisphere. Athleta’s Make It Last contest is sending four lucky winners, accompanied by one friend each, to New Zealand’s Aro wellness retreat for a week of yoga, fitness, and healthy cuisine in the country’s Southern Alps. For more details and to enter, visit afar.com/athleta.

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