I used to live in Ottawa and skating on the Rideau Canal was a way to commute, exercise, and have fun. However, if you feel too cold, you are not going to have fun. During the Winterlude Festival, there are plenty of areas with warming stations, fire pits, and hot chocolate. Before and after Winterlude, the warm comforts of fire and hot chocolate stands are not available. If you start out at Dow’s Lake and skate to Rideau Street (the other end of the canal) you will be skating almost 8KM ( almost 5 miles)! By having the right ice skating gear on for an outing out on the Rideau Canal, you can enjoy your time on the ice for a lot longer.
When I first started skating on the canal, I had traditional ice skates. My feet would start to get cold and I would stop enoying myself. My toes would get numb and I would stop skating. With the cold fridigid air of Ottawa, having the right items or gear could make or break your level of enjoyment. To increase your level of enjoyment and longevity on The Rideau Canal, it is important to keep your body warm. I personally found the following ice skating gear helpful to body warm and increasing the time I could spend out on the ice enjoying the beautiful Rideau Canal.
Fleece Lined Ice Skates
Recreational skates are exactly what they are called. They are ice skates used fior recreation, not hockey or to attempt a triple axel. Recreational skates are similar to figure skates as they have a toe pick. I was able to find recreation skates that had a fleece lining. I would typically purchase a size 9 skate, but I needed to size up to a 10 due to the heavy lining. After I got the fleece lined skates, I only needed a thin sock and my feet were able to stay warm , comfortable, and happy. I was able to skate comfortably for longer periods with the thick comforting fleece layer.
A toe pick? Really?
Some people prefer hockey skates, but I personally like my ice skate to have a toe pick. One day, I was skating along the canal and I had a large book bag on my back filled with textbooks. I tripped and fell on the ice. I was able to get up quickly even with the heavy weight of science books on my back because of the toe pick. The toe pick to give me leverage and become vertical again on the ice. Here is a great recreation skate to lace up on the canal, any other outdoor venue, or indoor rink as well.
A great base layer is essential to keep warm and comfortable
I love Merino wool thermal underware they are light weight, but oh so warm. Unlike some wool products, Merino wool products are soft and not itchy. They can keep you very warm, and they wash easily. Since they are typically not too think, they can easily fit underneath your clothing even your skinny jeans without creating bulk. Merino wool can also be found in socks and glove liners too. I find that Minus 33 Merino wool thermal underware keeps me warm and is more economically friendly than some other merino wool products out on the market. Having a good base leader can keep you warm and comfortable while on the ice.
Keeping your extremities warm in cold weather is essential. While skating on the canal, it is important to keep your hands warm and dry. If your fingers are cold, tingling, or numb you are not going enjoy yourself on the ice. When it is cold, I prefer a lobster glove as it is the perfect hybrid between a mitten and a glove. Although lobster gloves have been traditionally used for cyclists, I have found them helpful for other activities. Gloves separate your fingers and with the separation your fingers will get cold quick. On the other hand, mittens will keep your fingers warm, but loose mobility of the fingers. Lobster gloves, give you some mobility while still keeping your finger warm. Here is a great pair of Craft lobster gloves to keep your hands warm. As with most Craft clothing options, I often find you need to size up one size.
Do you like to skate outdoors, or do any other activity outdoors in the winter? What ice skating gear or other outdoor winter gear are your must haves to keep warm and have fun outdoors?