Aaah, wintertime -- when the mere thought of stepping out of the house sends shivers down your spine. Even a quick walk to the bus can make hands and feet feel cold as your body works to keep the core and inner organs warm. These days, there are plenty of products on the market that will keep you warm without making you look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. We found a number of worthwhile accessories and apparel, each costing less than $30.
Wear a base layer close to your skin that regulates sweat and retains heat, a mid-layer (think jacket or a wool sweater), and a shell as the the outermost layer to protect against wet elements. Stay warm on the cheap with a thermal henley from Faded Glory ($8 at Walmart), made of 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester. Wool is one of the fabrics that retains heat the best, but it usually comes at a higher price.
We did find the affordable Hanes Duofold wool blend thermal shirt ($28 at Walmart), which is made of soft cotton on the inside and wool on the outside. Reviews rave about the warmth and lack of itchiness; one customer says it kept her son, a police officer, warm while on duty during a frigid night.
Insulate Your Core.
Uniqlo's inexpensive Heattech line helps retain body heat for major warmth. The women's long-sleeve crew neck shirts and extra-warm leggings each go for $23; a men's V-neck t-shirt is tagged just below $13. Heattechn fabric is designed to maintain its shape and soft texture after repeated washings, so it should survive several cold seasons.
Warm Up Legs.
Layer a pair of leg warmers or tights under jeans or work pants. Paradox Performance's Merino Blend Base Layer Pant ($20 at Amazon) incorporates dri-release and anti-odor features, which means it should wick away moisture from the body. The fitted leggings are also supposed to dry four times as fast as cotton.
Remember Hands, Feet, and Head.
Your torso needs to be insulated the most, but don't neglect your extremities. Bundle up with thick socks, gloves, scarves, and hats, especially because blood vessels run closer to the surface above neck level. If hat hair is an annoyance, try fleece polyester earmuffs ($6 at Amazon). They're foldable and comfortable to wear with earphones underneath.
Gloves with tips that work on smartphone screens are popular now, but you don't need to buy an expensive pair. Simply purchase a few yards of conductive thread (the website Spark Fun sells it for $3) and sew it onto the tips of your gloves.
If gloves aren't warm enough, a Zippo Hand Warmer ($12 at Amazon) will really heat things up. Fill with lighter fluid, slip it into your pocket, and get up to twelve hours of toasty heat. All day long.
Invest in thick, quality socks, such as Smart Socks Black Cushioned Merino Wool Ski Socks ($30/3-pack at Overstock). They may cost a bit more than regular socks, but the built-in cushioning, moisture-wicking design, and warmth-holding wool fabric make them a smart buy.