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Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors During a Florida Winter


By Ashley Hopkins


When the mercury starts to drop down below the 50 degree mark, many north Floridians feel the chill of a southern winter. This tends to spur us southern folk into hibernation mode, where we check the call of the wild at the door, leaving it to wait till the return of spring. Don’t let those low temps keep you from enjoying the outdoors year round! There are still some gorgeous sites to be seen out there.

Layer like there’s no tomorrow!
When we are about to head out for an adventure and Jack Frost is nipping at our heels, I like to throw on layer after layer. I’d much rather get too hot when out exploring and have to remove a layer than be freezing and not have something to keep me warm. It doesn’t take me long to start working up a sweat but having those extra layers of warmth really motivates me to hit the trail or hop on the bike to begin with!
My go-to cold weather adventure gear is:
- thick, comfy socks and warm boots (usually my hiking boots, even when biking)
- fleece leggings under a layer of pants (typically long athletic pants)
- a base layer of a synthetic t-shirt or a long sleeve shirt

- a middle layer of a fleece zip up jacket
- an outer layer of a coat to block the wind and cold
- a knitted cap (for hiking) or balaclava (biking)

- a scarf: my favorite is a cozy knit infinity scarf)
- gloves: my go-to pair right now are fleece lined glittens (fingerless gloves with a fold back mitten part)

Bring some brew
Having a warm drink to sip while soaking up some Mother Nature can really help keep those cheeks stay rosey. For my  kiddo, I like to bring along a Thermos of herbal tea or almond milk hot cocoa. For myself, a hot cup of Jo can be a nice respite when on a chilly hike or bike ride. When I’m biking and in a pinch for time, I love to stop at New Leaf or another local coffee shop for a cup to go.

Hydrate and Get Your Nosh On

Just because it's chilly out doesn't mean those aren’t hunger pangs you’re feeling. Keep your body fueled with calories while out there so you can maintain a sustainable energy level. Energy bars, almonds, walnuts, fig bars, dried fruit, bananas, trail mixes, kale chips and single serve nut butters are fantastic lightweight but high calorie adventure foods. Be sure to replace any calories you might be burning as not to under fuel and over exhaust. Remember to drink .5-1 quart of water per hour of hiking or .75 quarts per hour of biking. Drink even when you aren’t thirsty. If you wait until you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated!

Reward yourself afterward!
When it comes to motivation, dangling the right carrot can carry me through just about anything. After a long and chilly 13 mile bike ride at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge this past weekend, all I could think of was getting a nice cup of hot vegan chili on the way home. Once Juni and I got done with with our ride, we made a bee-line for the New Leaf deli. Thinking about that chili got my legs moving a little faster a number of times. Yes, it’s that good, and no, there is no shame in caycreaming about delicious grub.

With proper clothing, a pack full of snacks, plenty of H2O, and the right motivation, you’re sure to leave the seasonal blues at home as you set out for a winter adventure.

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