Simplified Guide on What to Wear for Winter in Hokkaido

Gearing up for winter may sound simple, but it is actually quite complicated. It may range from deep-tech to stylish. I won’t we digging too deep into the tech, neither on style, as everyone has their own. But few things are a must for sure.

Environment

In Hokkaido, winter may range from 5C to -10C depending on month. It is dry, super dry, and the wind is strong. Luckily the buses, subways, trains, buildings are heated. There are many heated area, even in parks, in form of a hut. 

Some bus or train platform may not have heated area. Smoking area at platform is not considered as heated area as well (unless you are okay with the smell). But phone booth may help.


Head

Though headache may happen when it is too cold, it is always good to prepare some kind of beanie. Hood provided in jacket may help a bit, but will not solve the problem, as the wind will still get inside. 

For someone whose head is fine with cold, but having problem with cold ear, ear cover would be very helpful, it is inexpensive and will keep your hairstyle intact. You’ll look good in photos as well.

The common naked part to fight the wind is the face. It will get very dry, skin and lip may crack. Oil, essential oil, any cream would help. Another layer of defence would be wearing a mask. Would suggest ditching white medical mask, coz it always make one looks sick (real sick, flu). Black or grey and many other stylish mask are sold in many stores there.

Body

Neck is also one of the weakest part. Fortunately, some part of it is already protected by jacket. For those who is easily feel cold. A neck warmer would make them feel comfortable.

Investment on good gloves is very important. In this age, not only the gloves need to warm the hands, but also need to be mobile devices friendly. Coz, nowadays travellers use only mobile phone to take pictures. Taking off gloves to do something on mobile device will expose the hand to cold and wind, will make hand shivers when taking selfies/wefies, worst case the glove might drop/lost somewhere.
Another suggestion is to layer your hand with a soft gloves(knitted) before protecting them with waterproof gloves. This will guarantee the comfort.

For body, 3 layering method should be enough.

  1. Base layer (wicking fabric)
  2. Insulation layer (fleece/down jacket)
  3. Shell layer (water repellent/ water proof / wind proof)

For my preference, waterproof shell is best for heavy activities and overall protection, but water repellent shrll is already good enough if it is just for snow fall. The price difference between those shell types are quite distinct. Waterproof-ness is measured by mm (e.g 2000 mm, 10000 mm, etc.), the higher the better. But if it is just snow, it doesn’t matter much.

Breathable jacket is an important feature of the shell jacket. This is where sweat vapor escape the body. Some shells are not marked as breathable, but they might have some other means of letting sweat vapor out. E.g minor opening below underarm.

The logic is that all 3 layers will heat up the body. During activities, the body will sweat. Wicking base layer is to spread/distribute the sweat wide on the base layer for ease of drying. Body heat will then evaporate the sweat and it will got out through the layers. Something is not right if you feel sweat running down the waist. I.e base cannot spread the sweat, or sweat can’t escape through the layers.

Legs and feet

Legs are quite similar to the body, just less/thinner layer. Long john as base layer, and windproof and/or (optional) waterproof trousers. If it is wet, e.g watery/icy street/pedestrian, waterproof trousers would prevent you from getting wet if you happen to slip and fall down. However I tried normal jeans during ski, and it worked just fine, as the snow in Hokkaido ski resorts was not the wet kind.

Wool socks are recommended, however, I find any thick socks are good enough. Double layer them for better comfort.

For shoes, as long as it is a boots type and is a water repellent or water proof kind, they are good to go. If the shoes have the grip at the soles, it would be great, but need not worry if it doesn’t, the grip soles are sold in seven-eleven or Family-mart there. Note that the snow at some place may pile up high. The boots type is to protect the legs and feet in case you stepped on high pile of snow.

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