Double Puff

Do I look like the kind of person who would go winter camping? I thought the same thing myself until the day I skied into the Boundary Waters towing a plastic sled full of gear behind me. We pitched tents on a frozen lake, and I slept inside two nested sleeping bags, clutching a bottle of hot water. The next morning, I surprised myself by waking up alive.

Before that trip, winter was something I simply endured, and to some extent, resented. I made absurd attempts to stave off its arrival: waiting as long as I could stand it before turning on the furnace, or dragging my winter coat out of storage. If I could keep winter from beginning until, say, mid-December, its bone-chilling winds and perilous icy skids would be gone before I knew it.

But after I survived—in fact, thrived—protected from the elements by only a few inches of nylon and down, I realized that my enjoyment of the season merely hinged on better preparation. My winter getup now includes a daily regimen of wool long underwear, wool socks, a pair of clompy Sorel boots, and signature “double puff”—down vest under my ankle-length sleeping-bag coat. (I’ve even been known to “triple puff,” layering a waist-length down coat in between.) If you aspire to bundle up with a bit more style, check out our picks for the season’s hottest boots and layering pieces.

Though I don’t plan on spending my winters on a houseboat that’s frozen into the Mississippi or surfing Lake Superior’s frigid waves, I now welcome Minnesota’s snowy playground almost as much as the folks portrayed in our We Love Winter feature. I find gliding across the city lakes and inhaling January’s crisp air far more invigorating than jogging their perimeter in the swamp-vapor of July. Anyone can enjoy a summer day; Minnesotans distinguish ourselves—and band together—when we embrace winter’s exhilarating arctic snap. What doesn’t freeze us makes us stronger.