How to Protect Your Outer Extremities from Winter Weather: The Best Cold-Weather Clothing and Accessories

Text: Essential Cold Weather Work Gear and image of man sitting outside drinking from a thermos.

That tingly feeling in the tips of your fingers and toes is not just 'Jack Frost' nipping at you, it's your body communicating to you that it is cold. Anyone who's ever worked outside in the cold knows that ignoring these signals can quickly turn into a serious problem if you are not wearing the appropriate cold-weather work gear. From fumbling fingers to frostbite, having cold outer extremities is no joke. 

Most people recognize the need for a good winter work coat when working in a cold outdoor environment. But how many of us give as much attention as we should to our headwear and hand protection? It’s crucial to know your options and not settle for less when you’re choosing your most important winter gear—especially if you need high visibility gear that helps you stay noticed in your work environment. 

What’s the best cold-weather clothing to keep your extremities warm this winter work season? And how can it help keep you safe and seen while on the job? Let’s explore the best cold-weather clothing and accessories from HiVis Supply, along with how you can choose the pieces that are right for your needs.

Why Protecting Your Extremities is a Must

When we use the word “extremities,” we mean:

  • Your head and face
  • Your hands and fingers
  • Your feet and toes

These are the areas of your body that are farthest from your heart. Thus, the heart works hardest to push blood to them. The fingers, toes, and face are thus the first areas to lose circulation when your body temperature starts to drop. Not protecting your extremities can expose you to the severe consequences of cold temperature exposure:

  • Clumsiness: When your fingers and toes aren’t getting enough blood circulation, they’ll start to become numb. That numbness makes it harder to manipulate objects and do tasks, which hurts your productivity and increases your risk of having an accident on the job. 
  • Frostbite: If your fingers and toes lose blood flow for too long, the cold can start to damage the tissue under your skin. In extreme cases, frostbite can even cause the loss of fingers and toes. 
  • Hypothermia: When you spend too long out in the cold without enough insulation to keep you warm, your body temperature can drop to unsafe levels. The circulation shutdown that starts in your extremities starts to spread through your body, eventually reaching your vital organs. Even a mild case can make you mentally foggy and prone to mistakes, while a severe case can kill you.

Needless to say, these consequences are things that you don’t want to play with. They can knock you out of work for a long time and even potentially do permanent damage to your health. Thus, you need to choose the best cold-weather clothing accessories that will keep your body safe on the job.

How to Protect Your Extremities

So, how do you keep your body’s extremities safe during hard work in cold environments? By protecting them with safety gear that’s designed to perform in these conditions. These are some important qualities of the best cold-weather clothing that you should look for in hats, gloves, or footwear: 

  • Insulation: Insulation is what keeps the warmth in and the cold out, so your gear should have a level of insulation that’s appropriate to what you’re using it for. Synthetic insulation is one of today’s most popular insulation materials due to its excellent performance in wet environments and its ideal balance of light weight and serious insulation. 
  • Comfort: Comfortable protection is key for a productive workday. Choosing the fabric and design that’s comfortable for you will help you focus on the job rather than constantly adjusting or itching at your head, hand, or foot protection. 
  • Breathability: The best cold-weather clothing is breathable enough to allow some air circulation that helps keep you comfortable and mitigates the buildup of sweat on your skin (which can make you colder when it dries). Look for clothing that includes features such as vented areas and breathable fabrics.

Another key tip: Invest in a hi-vis winter jacket with the right level of insulation for your job. By keeping your core temperature up, you’ll make it easier for your whole body to maintain circulation and prevent your extremities from losing blood flow. These are some general tips to get you thinking about your needs. Next, we’ll look at another key factor in choosing the best cold-weather clothing: thinking about the visibility features that your job requires.

High-Visibility Gear for Your Cold-Weather Environment

It’s crucial to consider your visibility needs on the job. Does your job environment involve operating heavy machinery, standing close to traffic, or other physical hazards that can be prevented by keeping yourself visible? 

If it does, think about how you need to differentiate yourself from the surrounding environment via hi-vis clothing. Check relevant standards like the ANSI Hi Vis Standards to find out whether your hi-vis clothing needs to have certain features or meet certain benchmarks. 

In cold environments, you’ll also often be dealing with weather conditions like snow, sleet, or rain. These conditions can make you a lot harder to see, so hi-vis gear is even more crucial if you’ll be spending a lot of time outside in heavy weather.

The Best Cold-Weather Headwear

HiVis Supply offers cold-weather headwear in all kinds of popular styles, including beanies and balaclavas. Here are some things that you should consider when it’s time to choose your cold-weather headwear: 

  • In industries like construction, you might have to wear your winter headwear under head protection PPE like a hard hat. 
  • If your job involves a lot of physical activity, choose a breathable fabric that will help keep your head cool. This is especially important if you plan on wearing your headwear underneath a hard hat.
  • For jobs that include high winds, a balaclava can be a great option for keeping your entire face and head insulated. Just make sure that it has an eye opening wide enough to provide you with an unobstructed view. 
  • Consider adding accessories such as a hi-vis neck gaiter for better insulation in cold weather. 

Ready to see some of the best winter headwear that HiVis Supply has to offer? Check out these awesome high-visibility pieces that will keep your head warm and safe all winter long:

The Best Cold-Weather Hand Protection

When choosing cold-weather hand protection, you’ll need to consider what kind of flexibility and padding you need from your gloves. Think about these options and factors:

  • If you’ll be working in cold-weather, the gloves you choose should be insulated with a synthetic material such as 3M Thinsulate™ to protect your hands from the cold. If you live in a region with wet winter weather, waterproofing is also a key feature for winter gloves to keep rain and snow off your hands.
  • High-dexterity gloves are a popular option when your job needs a lot of manual dexterity. These gloves have flex points built into key areas like the thumb crotch to allow them to stretch more effectively. Choosing gloves with a strong grip material will also help improve your dexterity and performance. 
  • Gloves with impact protection can help protect your hands from being crushed or otherwise damaged by an impact. These gloves contain dorsal protection in areas like the fingers and the top of the hands to help prevent injury from a misplaced hammer swing or other light impacts. 
  • Cut-proof gloves are important for people who work in livestock processing, machining, agriculture, and other industries that require working with sharp tools. A cut-proof glove uses a special knit fabric that provides greater protection from cutting implements than standard work gloves. 
  • High-visibility gloves can add an extra touch of visibility that helps workers stay safe and stay seen. Adding more hi-vis pieces to your work gear is a good way to increase your odds of being seen when it matters most for everyone’s safety. They can also help you focus on the position of your own hands during tasks that require intense concentration.

HiVis Supply makes it easy to find the best winter gloves with our full selection of professional-quality safety gloves. Below, you’ll see some of the winter glove options that our customers love the most:

  • Ergodyne 818WP ProFlex Thermal Utility Gloves: One of our best all-in-one high-visibility winter gloves, these sleek models are designed with two separate zones of 3M Thinsulate™ insulation to keep your hands warm and comfortable. They also feature touchscreen capable design, Tena-Grip technology to help you keep a firm hold, and even a soft brow wipe area on the thumb. 
  • Radians RWG27 Cut Level A3 Dipped Winter Gripper Glove: These gloves are a cost-effective choice for cut safety in cold environments. They feature an ANSI cut level A3 rating, a high-visibility design, and a latex dip that gives them superior grip performance. The acrylic/polyester blend liner provides comfort in cold environments. Available in an economy-size 12-pack so you’ll never be without a pair at hand. 
  • Majestic Winter Lined Armor Skin Mechanic’s Glove with High-Visibility Knit Back: One of the most advanced winter gloves available, this model features Majestic’s ultra-tough ARMOR SKIN™ material that’s designed to give awesome abrasion resistance while maintaining a comfortable feel and fit. 100-gram Heatlok™ lining and weatherproof, waterproof design keep your hands safe even in tough weather conditions, and the gloves’ stretch-knit construction and pre-curved fit help maximize hand dexterity and minimize fatigue.

The Best Cold-Weather Footwear

Protecting your feet is another important part of choosing the best cold-weather clothing. Here are some factors to consider when purchasing your cold-weather footwear: 

  • Choose boots that are sized correctly for your feet. 
    • Your heel shouldn’t rub against the back of the boot or lift up from the insole when you walk. 
    • Your toes should have approximately an inch of room in front of them, but they shouldn’t slide forward easily. 
    • The sides of the boot shouldn’t grip your feet uncomfortably tightly
  • Moisture-wicking socks are a great idea for workers who are on their feet throughout the day. These socks help draw moisture away from the skin and keep your feet dry while you work, which is crucial for comfort and helps prevent trench foot
  • If you work in conditions that include deep snow or mud, consider investing in a pair of boot gaiters. These simple fabric devices slip over your boots and prevent mud or snow from getting your feet wet. Boot gaiters are also a good idea for people who work in woods or brush, as they can help prevent ticks and snakebites.
Shop Our Entire Selection Of Winter Work Gear

HiVis Supply has the winter workwear solutions that will make your winter warmer and brighter. For more of the best cold-weather clothing, make sure to see our full selection of winter gear, including our hi-vis winter jackets.

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