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Stay Warm On Winter Work Parties

Posted by Anna Roth at Dec 10, 2015 03:45 PM |
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From how to sign up to what to wear, get our tips on dressing for fun during our winter work parties.

Winter in the Pacific Northwest can be cold and sometimes wet. So how do you stay dry (and happy) on a chilly day working on trail? With the proper clothing and planning, a winter work party can be a fun and fulfilling experience.

High five for staying dry! Photo by Emma Cassidy.

When you sign up for your work party, you receive an email including a list of items you'll need for when volunteer with us. These include: 

  • Work gloves
  • Heavy boots (hiking boots are okay)
  • Long pants (no shorts)
  • Lunch, water and snacks
  • Any personal medication you may require

Be sure to bring all of these items! Work gloves will protect your hands and keep them warm, boots will keep your feet dry, and believe it or not, being properly hydrated and fed keeps you much more comfortable throughout the day.

In addition to the above, you can amp up your volunteer experience with the following tricks (tested and approved by veteran volunteers).

Tips for staying warm and dry

  • Long underwear: Most work pants are loose-fitting enough to allow another layer underneath. A layer of long underwear will keep you warm while letting you move around comfortably while you're working.
  • Warm hat or fleece headband: This is crucial to prevent getting chilly during lunchtime or just while taking a short break. Wear it under your hard hat or by itself during lunch to keep your ears warm. 
    Pro tip: A fleece headband or beanie also helps those hard hats stay on! 

  • Gaiters: Nothing makes for cold legs like damp, muddy pants. Keep the clamminess at bay with a pair of gaiters (waterproof ankle or knee-high boot and pant covers). Just put them on before you start the day's work.
  • Soup or a hot drink: It takes a little more planning ahead, but having soup on a dreary day makes lunch especially rejuvenating. Bring it in a wide-mouth thermos so you can get all the good bits. If you're devoted to PB&J for lunch, bring a thermos of hot tea, coffee, cider or cocoa to sip on all day long.

  • Two pairs of gloves: Especially on a rainy day, there's nothing like being able to pull on new, dry gloves after lunch instead of the muddy ones from the morning. Some volunteers also say they wear glove liners (for warmth) or latex gloves (to keep hands dry) under their work gloves.
  • Rain gear: This should probably go without saying, but it's important to remember your waterproof (not water-resistant) coat (and maybe pants) when you head out. Even if it doesn't rain, it's better to have them on hand. Just be sure and put the gear on at the first sign of rainit won't help much if you're already drenched. 
    Pro-tip: You can find raincoat and glove recommendations in past gear reviews. 

  • Extra shoes: There's nothing like being able to change into clean and dry shoes at your car. Bring something comfortable that will let your feet breathe a little, like flip flops or sandals. If it's cold, consider bringing an extra pair of socks, too. 

Duckabush Rain Crew
Bundle up and join WTA all winter long! Photo by Meagan Mackenzie.


Liner gloves

Rather than keeping hands DRY, those nifty exam gloves keep hands WARM in the winter. They work like a diver's wetsuit. Water or perspiration is kept between the glove and your skin and warms to skin temperature, keeping those fingers tolerable in most conditions.

Posted by:

grubgoat on Jan 24, 2017 09:26 AM

greywolfember on Stay Warm On Winter Work Parties

Gotta say, though, I've gotten hot wearing long underwear during trail services... But definitely worth it if it dips down into really cold temps.

Posted by:

greywolfember on Jan 19, 2019 08:01 PM

Mark & Phil on Stay Warm On Winter Work Parties

Gore-Tex is actually NOT waterproof! In a real downpour, over the course of several hours, the Gore-Tex gets overwhelmed and people's shoulders start to get wet. We had to call a BCRT a day early after several of volunteers got wet clothes through their Gore-Tex. A fully waterproof jacket like Frog Toggs can make a big difference when heavy rain is forecast.

Posted by:

Mark & Phil on Jan 24, 2019 05:24 AM

Muledeer on Stay Warm On Winter Work Parties

I don't think there's raingear made that will keep you dry for hours in a PNW downpour. I would suggest that underneath layers are just as important. An old wool garage sale special sweater or fuzzy fleece tend to keep you warm even when you get damp

Posted by:

Muledeer on Feb 01, 2020 11:57 AM