Winter wear

Well, we all knew it was too good to last. Mother Nature and Old Man Winter joined forces and clobbered most of Canada with some brutal winter weather, so we’re going to go over a few tricks to make surviving the winter driving season a little easier. For those drivers who are experiencing their first Canadian winter, please take this advice seriously. It could save your life if and when you experience a breakdown at 3 am in the middle of nowhere.

First and foremost, carry good winter clothing in the truck at all times. At least 2 full sets of thermal underwear (long johns), both tops and bottoms. Avoid the one-piece long johns. The first trip you have to make to the washroom you’ll understand why. In addition, you’ll need a good wool hat that covers your ears. Your ears are one of the first places you’ll suffer frostbite, so keep them covered. Also, 90% of heat loss is through the head, so keep it under a wool hat. A balaclava is better, but they are cumbersome if you wear glasses.

If you’re required to wear a hard hat, some places sell felt or wool hard hat liners designed to be attached to the webbing inside the hard hat. Do yourself a favor and get one. For your hands, good quality mitts are best. Gloves don’t keep your fingers as warm. If you have to wear gloves while working outside, wear a pair of surgical gloves inside your work gloves. They’ll help keep your hands from getting wet, which makes the cold feel even worse. Also, buy quality fur-lined work gloves. They help keep your hands warm.

Leather linesman gloves are the absolute best, but they are not inexpensive. Invest in a quality pair of winter work boots. Mine are steel tied, and rated to -150°F (-100°C). Very effective, but not inexpensive. A good pair of wool socks is also a good idea. A few companies make small bags the size of take-out ketchup packs that heat up when activated. Keep a few handy to put in your gloves and socks as needed. A high hi-vis work jacket is a must. Again, get the best one you can find. Don’t let cost be the determining factor.

How much you saved buying less expensive outerwear means nothing if you lose some fingers or toes to frostbite. For pants, if at all possible avoid wearing jeans. They tend to shrink when they get wet from snow and they offer next to nothing for protection from the cold. A good pair of nylon ski pants over a pair of jeans will offer some protection from the cold. Ideally, a good pair of winter work coveralls is the best. They may be a bit cumbersome to move around in, but you will be toasty warm. To outfit yourself in the proper winter work gear will not be inexpensive. It could run as high as $500.00, but the first time it saves your life, that will seem like a small investment.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.