How to conquer your first Colorado winter

Blog Header: How to Conquer your First Colorado Winter

If you’re coming to CSU from a warmer climate, the winter season here in Colorado might have you asking a lot of questions or feeling a twinge of fear.

Take comfort, warm-blooded future Rams. We’re here to help you face your first Colorado winter like a local.

Expect variety.

weather forecast in fort collins

Winter in Colorado is an enjoyable season, and not only for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Yes, you’ll see plenty of snow. But with an average high temp of 42 degrees, you’ll see plenty of mild days, too. And sometimes you’ll see it all in the span of 24 hours.

With ever-changing temperatures and constant sunshine, there’s a lot of variety. So don’t be too nervous if you’re coming from a warmer climate; you can handle it with the right gear and an eye on your weather app.

Top tip: Check the weather forecast daily before you head out the door. Plan and dress accordingly.

Layer, layer, layer.

Blog Header: Layer, Layer, Layer

Have we mentioned the sun is out almost every day? And due to high elevation, Colorado sunshine will warm you up quickly. A winter day can go from 0 to 60 degrees in a span of a few hours. So dressing in layers is your ultimate tool for conquering winter in Colorado.

Top tip: Layer a tank top or t-shirt under a sweater. Top it off with a winter coat.

Splurge on a few quality items.

Blog Header: Splurge on a Few Quality Items

There are some things that aren’t as big of a deal quality-wise for winter. Most winter hats, gloves, and scarves will all get you by for a walk across campus. When it comes to investing in quality, focus your attention on two staples: a pair of waterproof boots and a versatile winter jacket.

Here in Colorado, we’re all about functionality over looks. When shopping for a coat and pair of boots, choose only waterproof boots and a coat that allows you to move around without feeling constrained. Many of our students opt to buy from outdoor shops.

Top tip: For a budget-friendly alternative, check thrift shops. Colorado thrift stores often have quality used coats and boots.

Get a buff.

Blog Header: Get a Buff

Commonly used by outdoor sports enthusiasts, a buff – or neck gaiter – is one of the most versatile and low-cost winter accessories out there.

A buff is, in essence, a stretchy tube of cloth. You can wear it as an ear cover, a scarf, a face cover, or a bandanna. It’s easy to wash and comes in varying colors and thickness. You can find them at most outdoor shops or on Amazon.

Top tip: Buy two versions if you can. Get a fleece buff for cold days, and a lightweight option for milder temps.

Always bring sunglasses.

Blog Header: Always Bring Sunglasses

The sun. You’ll see it almost daily during winter months, and snow will amplify its brightness. Because of this, a pair of sunglasses will likely become your best friend.

You don’t have to go fancy or expensive, but make sure you buy at least one pair before winter hits. And double-check that they protect your eyes from UV rays, which are extra strong in Colorado.

Top tip: Get 3-4 pairs of cheap sunglasses. Stuff one in your backpack, keep one in your room, and place one in your car or in a bike pack.

P.S.: You may need a humidifier.

Colorado is in an arid region, so if you’re coming from a locale with humidity your body will react to the dry air, especially in winter time. Purchasing a small humidifier can go a long way towards upping your comfort level.

Top tip: If you notice dry skin or itchy eyes, buy a small humidifier and place it next to your bed to run at night. You’ll notice a difference almost immediately.

Jill Baylis

Jill was a staff member in the Office of Admissions until 2019 when she moved to Denver. As a first-generation college student, she focused on simplifying the college admissions process and helping future Rams find community on campus.