12 Ways to Stay Warm While Socializing Outdoors During COVID-19
Patio heaters may be sold out across Canada, but that doesn't mean socially-distanced outdoor visits should leave you in the cold.
How to Stay Warm (While Staying Social) This Winter
Although video chats are a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes you need some face to face interaction—even if those faces are behind masks. Trouble is, the Canadian winter doesn’t make those socially-distanced outdoor visits particularly comfortable. Try these tricks to keep toasty warm while following public health guidelines for safe socializing.
Use your noggin
Your choice in a hat can mean the difference between a quick hello or sticking around for an hour-long chat with a friend you haven’t seen since last March. This deceptively light toque’s acrylic-wool blend absorbs moisture to keep you warm and dry. Uniqlo HeatTech Knitted Hat, $20, uniqlo.com
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Take a cue from outdoor enthusiasts
Considering these ultra-thick fleece socks were designed to keep intrepid ice fishers warm on frozen lake surfaces, they’ll certainly be up to the challenge of a backyard visit with your buddy. Winter weight fleece oversocks, $59, patagonia.ca
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Design a DIY windbreak
Looking for a do-it-yourself project that delivers a huge return on investment? Add a windbreak to your backyard. Whether it’s a fence, a row of shrubs or trees, or another form of screen, it’ll protect you from those bone-chilling breezes, and give you something constructive to do during the lockdown.
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Have a campfire—without the hassle
Make the occasional treat of a midwinter bonfire an everyday experience with a stainless-steel fire pit. The gas-fired flames mean you’ll be spared the ashy mess left behind by wood-burning fires. Simply add socially-distanced friends, and let the campfire tales begin! Endless Summer outdoor fire pit, $170, Staples Canada
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Keep your toes toasty
Doubling up on socks can be uncomfortable—particularly if you’re planning to walk while you talk. For toasty toes (without the tight squeeze), simply toss these electric warmers into your boots a few hours before leaving the house. Once you’re back home, pop them right back in again: they’ll dry your now-damp footwear within hours. Indigo portable shoe/boot Dryer/warmer, $24.50, Chapters Indigo (Note: Curbside pickup only)
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Build a tabletop bonfire
No room for an outdoor fire pit? No problem! This small-space-friendly campfire-in-a-tin is the next best thing to a full-blown bonfire. Just under a foot (20 cm) in diameter, the four-pound tin is filled with recycled soy wax and paper briquettes, which create an impressive flame with a five-hour burn time. To extinguish, simply replace the lid on the tin. Radiate Classic Portable Campfire, $40, Cabela’s
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Trick your brain into feeling warmer
Sometimes, no matter how much you layer up, it simply isn’t enough to keep you comfy. Enter the Embr Wave, a smartwatch-like bracelet that, with the click of a button, creates a warming sensation on the sensitive skin on your wrist. That sensation in turn sends a signal to your brain to perceive temperature differently throughout your body. In no time, you’ll feel like you’re gripping a warm double-double—without coming anywhere near the Tim Horton’s drive-through. Embr Wave bracelet, $299 USD (approximately $380), Embr Labs
(As Embr’s makers note, this device is intended to ease momentary discomfort from cold, and isn’t suited to prolonged exposure. Here are the frostbite symptoms you should never ignore.)
Make a sound investment
Combining the cozy warmth of fluffy shearling with Bluetooth headphone technology, these stylish earmuffs are the perfect accessory for a solo outdoor walk. Cue up the latest episode of that true crime podcast you and your best friend have been obsessing over so you can share your theories the next time you get together. UGG sheepskin Bluetooth earmuffs, $125, Nordstrom
Invest in touch-screen gloves (that actually work)
Having to choose between warm hands or actually being able to use your phone is a uniquely 21st century problem. Luckily, The North Face has devised a suitably 21st-century solution. These fleece-polyester gloves guard against winter’s chill, while enabling touch-screen use with all five fingers, so you can pull up that hilarious TikTok for your pals in complete comfort. ETip Recycled Glove, $50, The North Face
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Don’t forget that your phone gets cold, too
No, you’re not just imagining it—your phone actually does lose its charge faster in the cold. Plan ahead by popping this two-in-one portable charger in your pocket: it’s equipped with two USB ports to recharge your devices on the go, while also serving as a hand-warmer when needed. Celestron ThermoCharge 10 warmer/charger, $70, MEC
Bundle up in an outdoor blanket
Forget that ratty old polar fleece throw! This synthetic-down waterproof blanket is specifically designed for outdoor use, trapping your body’s own heat to keep you wonderfully warm in virtually any weather. Use the attached clip to wear it like a cape, or simply drape the blanket over your body while sitting by the fire. You can even stake the blanket to the ground to prevent it from blowing away. NanoLoft puffy blanket, from $200, Rumpl
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Turn any chair into a hot seat
There are few things more enjoyable than getting into a chilly car and turning on the seat warmers. Recreate that feeling just about anywhere with this cleverly-designed cushion. Place it wherever you’d like to sit, and the patented insulation creates a thermal barrier that retains and reflects your own body heat. Heat-A-Seat cushion, $25, Canadian Tire
Next, find out more genius ways to trick your body into feeling warmer on freezing cold days.