Gas, heating oil and electricity prices have all risen sharply in recent months. As we head into the colder months, we’re all going to feel the pinch – even with the Government's energy price cap coming into force. Understandably, many of us are thinking about ways to cut our household usage to try and keep those bills down.
Luckily, outdoorsy types are already better kitted out than most when it comes to staying warm and cosy, no matter how cold it gets. If you think about it, you’ve probably some fantastic bits of gear that do a good job of keeping you warm, dry and comfortable in the great outdoors, whether you’re a backpacker, a biker, a hiker, a skier or a camper.
So, why not put all that technical outdoor kit to good use in the home? After all, if it works in the mountains or when you’re camped out in your tent, it’ll work just as well – if not better – indoors. Might as well make the most of it, eh? Of course, we really wish we didn’t need to publish this guide at all. But since times are tough, here are some useful tips that might mean you don’t need to turn up the thermostat quite so often. In turn, that will save energy, which is good for the planet, and might save you a little money too.
The experts are all telling us to ‘heat the human, not the home’ this winter. And as all outdoorsy types know only too well, the key to staying warm and comfortable – whether you’re indoors or out – is good layering.
It all starts with a decent baselayer. For maximum efficiency, it should sit next to your skin, which means it should be close fitting, in order to trap warm air and wick away sweat. Avoid cotton tees and instead go for synthetic fabrics, or even better, merino wool layers, which regulate temperature superbly. Look for plenty of length in the arms and torso to ensure full coverage and a raised collar to keep off chills.
Our merino layers of choice come from New Zealand’s very own Mons Royale, born out of the Kiwi extreme sports scene in the mountains above Lake Wanaka. They’re ethically and sustainably produced, but super versatile too. This is technical stuff that looks good enough to wear every day, with great fits and cool colours – the perfect day in, day out cold climate wear.
Adding a second layer to your everyday outfit will help trap extra warmth. Go for a midweight fleece or hoody in a breathable fabric, which offers insulation without adding bulk or making you overheat and sweat.
There are lots of choices here – just raid your wardrobe. You might own a technical midlayer from a brand like Artilect, Picture Organic, Klättermusen or Ortovox. Then there are more casual hoodies from &SONS, Tentree or Cotopaxi, which work just as well.
We’re also big fans of heavy shirts in wool, flannel or even slub cotton – like a Black & Blue heritage outdoor rugby shirt. Or for maximum warmth, our go-to style choice is a piece from the Snow Peak Flexible Insulated collection, which includes pullovers, hoodies, cardigans and shirts.
Okay, you’re probably not going to want to be wearing your down puffy or your hard shell jacket indoors. But something like a vest, bodywarmer or gilet is a great way to boost core warmth without adding too much bulk. Cotopaxi’s Teca Calido and Fuego down vests are perfect examples, as is Picture Organic’s Hylla Vest for women.
Repurpose that trusty camp blanket that we all have for chilly nights in the tent or evenings around the campfire. Dig it out of your gear closet and spread it over the couch, on your bed or even across your knees if you’re working from home. (Yeah, you might feel a bit like your granny, but hey, no-one sees what you’ve got on below the waist on Zoom meetings anyway, right?)
We love blankets and throws here at WildBounds, from Rumpl’s Original Puffy Blankets to Pendleton’s heritage camp throws and Ojbro’s Scandinavian wool blankets. Another of our bestselling favourites is the very affordable Kelty Bestie Blanket.
Your extremities – head, hands and toes – tend to feel the cold more than the rest of your body. Feet in particular can suffer. So, wearing those heavyweight hiking socks and camp slippers or booties indoors can be a great way to stay warm inside, particularly if you have hard floors.
Technical outdoor socks from brands like Horizon, Darn Tough and Mons Royale are all solid choices. After all, if they keep your toes toasty when you’re in the hills, on the trails or out on the slopes, they’re more than capable of doing the same thing right at home.
Then there are our perennial winter favourites – Ojbro Vantfabrik’s Swedish wool socks. Knitted from pure lambswool in a longer just-below-the-knee style, they’re great for keeping feet deliciously cosy.
Next up, slippers. Forget standard house slippers – here, tent booties or down shoes are where it’s at, like the Mos from Nordisk. They’re a product we’ve stocked for years now and used on countless occasions when winter camping in seriously sub-zero conditions, and nothing else compares.
One last footcare tip: if your toes start to feel cold by late afternoon or early evening, even if you’ve been wearing socks and slippers all day, it could be because your socks have been soaking up moisture. Sweaty feet are an unfortunate fact of life (don’t worry, it happens to us all, even when we’re not racking up big miles on the trail). But try swapping your socks for a fresh, dry pair and your feet should soon start to warm up again.
Since warm air rises, the floor is usually the coldest part of the house. Science, yeah? So, putting your feet up on a footstool, coffee table or similar can help them stay that little bit warmer while you're sitting down.
Alternatively, the outdoorsy option is to dig out your camping chair, cot or stool, like our Helinox Speed Stool or Big Agnes Skyline UL and use that in your lounge or living room. Being small and packable, they take up next to no space – but the same qualities that make them great camp companions also make them a pretty versatile piece of emergency home furniture too.
A couple of WildBounds staffers have been making great use of their Poler Stuff Napsacks this winter. Turns out, these ‘wearable sleeping bags’ work great on camp, but are also very much at home on the couch. If you’re not familiar with the Napsack concept, they feature zips at the shoulders, so you can stick your arms out, and a bottom cinch to open out the foot end and free your feet. Meanwhile, your body stays toasty warm inside the bag. The cinch also means you can secure the hem around your waist, essentially turning the bag into a super cosy jacket. Genius.
According to stats from the Energy Saving Trust, Brits boil their kettle about four times a day. With electricity prices soaring, some are suggesting that the cost of making a cuppa will nearly double this winter.
General advice is to descale your kettle regularly and only boil the water you actually need to use. All good stuff – but we’ve got another tip for outdoorsy types. Leave your standard mugs in the cupboard, and instead dig out your insulated mug or tumbler or coffee flask – you know, the one you usually take to the office or pack in your hillwalking rucksack. It’ll do a much better job of keeping your cup o’ joe hot, which means you won’t have to drink it so quickly or boil the kettle so often.
Of course, the ideal way to save on energy bills would be to generate your own power, using a free and infinitely renewable source. Somebody should tell the Government. But while making your own wind turbine or hydroelectric plants might be out of reach, many of us already use portable solar panels on our adventures.
So, get it out and set it up at home. Maybe you own one of our Goal Zero, Powertraveller or BioLite kits, which are the solar power systems we have relied on in the wild. Over the course of a day, even a small 5W panel will probably generate enough free electricity to recharge your phone or top up a tablet – and hey, every little helps, right?
A final resort for when it all gets too much: why not swap your draughty house or flat for a cosy tent? As well as being good for mind, body and soul, a mini winter adventure in the great outdoors could also save you money. Pack up your warmest sleeping mat, your 4-season sleeping bag and your tent, then simply head for the hills. But before you take off, just remember to turn lights and appliances off, and turn the heating right down. The house will look after itself, energy costs will be minimal, and you’ll have a great time away.
This guide’s all about light-hearted outdoorsy ideas to keep warm if you’re at the point of cutting back on heating. But we appreciate that there are some serious things to consider too. No one should have to go cold or hungry this winter. And remember:
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