If Your Hands Are Cold, You Need A Vest, Not Mittens

Here’s why the sleeveless coat is the perfect blend of style and science.

Photo by Kevin Goodrich on Unsplash

When was the last time your hands were really cold — really really cold? Were you fumbling with your keys trying to unlock your door? Or was it when you were outside trying to tie up your kid’s ice skate? Maybe it was just doing a quick bit of shoveling with bare hands and the aluminum shovel handle felt like an ice dagger clutched in your white-wooden fingers.

Then there’s the painful tingling as your hands begin to warm up followed by the hot burning sensation as the feeling returns to the tips of your frigid digits. Delightful.

It’s 2019 and we have robots that do surgery and cars that drive themselves. Why do we still have to deal with cold hands?

Read on, my chilly friend, and let me help you end the madness.

Animals have all sorts of adaptations to survive the long cold winter. Some eat a lot and rely on a thick layer of fat to keep them warm. Others migrate to cold places or grow thicker coats. Cold weather animals have short legs and tiny ears to better trap heat in winds and storms that we could never survive.

So why did we get the short end of the stick? Although we’re known to pack on a few pounds during the holidays, it’s not enough to make a zero degree day feel balmy. And even though I don’t shave my legs in the winter, the hair that grows isn’t enough to fend off the winds of a cold nor’easter. We’re basically squishy hairless ragdolls who can only be comfortable in the temperature range that you might serve a wheel of brie at.

Despite this though, we have survived. Humans thrive in both hot and cold climates thanks to one major adaptation that other animals don’t have: our big brains. We are able to problem solve and invent things to keep us comfortable outside our narrow temperature range.

Fire, air conditioners, the Snuggie blanket, clothes, houses, socks and fans are all products of this. We invented them so that we didn’t have to be uncomfortably hot or cold.

Most of the time, our answer to cold hands is to put on gloves or mittens. I went to a ski and snowboard expo today and there were thousands of varieties of hand-warming products on display, some at a price point of more than $200!

Advanced though we may be, the best solution to cold hands is a little bit more primal.

As warm blooded creatures, we rely on our circulatory system to keep us warm by pumping warm blood around our bodies. You’ve probably noticed that when your hands are cold, they turn white or even bluish. This is because they have very little blood in them!

It doesn’t feel good, but this is an evolutionary adaptation that has helped us survive instead of going extinct. When our bodies are cold, they have a specific and rigid set of priorities. Important organs like heart, lungs, brain: high priority. Body parts that we can easily live without like fingers and toes: low priority. Because of this system, our nice warm blood is shunted to those high-priority areas in our core, leaving the low-priority areas bloodless and cold.

So while your freezing fingers are struggling to zip your jacket, you really should be thanking your body for keeping your major systems running instead of dropping dead in a snowbank.

What you shouldn’t do is try to warm up your hands by putting on a $200 pair of gloves.

Instead, reach for a vest — a nice puffy down one full of feathers is great, but there are lots of other options. When you put your vest on, it traps heat in your torso. The perceived threat of freezing to death lessens a little, and your body will release a little more blood out to your arms and legs. Once the blood starts flowing, your fingers and toes will start to pink up and feel warm.

Soon you’ll start grinning from ear to ear because you feel so good and you look so cool in your awesome vest. People will ask you what your secret is, and you’ll have to explain to them the life changing magic of style and science.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Big fan of good books, funny looking animals, and great stories. Always ready for the next big thing.

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