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12 Ways to Stay Warm While Socializing Outdoors During COVID-19

Patio heaters may be sold out across Canada, but that doesn't mean socially-distanced outdoor visits should leave you in the cold.

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How To Stay Warm Socializing Outdoors During COVID-19 WinterImage credit: Shutterstock

How to Stay Warm (While Staying Social) This Winter

Although video chats are a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes you need some face to face interaction—even if those faces are behind masks. Trouble is, the Canadian winter doesn’t make those socially-distanced outdoor visits particularly comfortable. Try these tricks to keep toasty warm while following public health guidelines for safe socializing.

(Related: The Importance of Making Memories During Pandemic Life)

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Stay Warm Covid Winter Uniqlo ToquePhoto: Uniqlo

Use your noggin

Your choice in a hat can mean the difference between a quick hello or sticking around for an hour-long chat with a friend you haven’t seen since last March. This deceptively light toque’s acrylic-wool blend absorbs moisture to keep you warm and dry. Uniqlo HeatTech Knitted Hat, $20, uniqlo.com

(Related: All The Gear You Need to Stay Active Outdoors all Winter Long)

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Stay Warm Covid Winter Patagonia SocksPhoto: Patagonia

Take a cue from outdoor enthusiasts

Considering these ultra-thick fleece socks were designed to keep intrepid ice fishers warm on frozen lake surfaces, they’ll certainly be up to the challenge of a backyard visit with your buddy. Winter weight fleece oversocks, $59, patagonia.ca

(Related: 5 Top Thermal Leggings for Staying Warm This Winter)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Build Windbreak Fence in your back yardPhoto: Shutterstock

Design a DIY windbreak

Looking for a do-it-yourself project that delivers a huge return on investment? Add a windbreak to your backyard. Whether it’s a fence, a row of shrubs or trees, or another form of screen, it’ll protect you from those bone-chilling breezes, and give you something constructive to do during the lockdown.

(Related: How to Treat the Most Common Aches and Pains Caused by Pandemic Life)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Staples Fire PitPhoto: Staples

Have a campfire—without the hassle

Make the occasional treat of a midwinter bonfire an everyday experience with a stainless-steel fire pit. The gas-fired flames mean you’ll be spared the ashy mess left behind by wood-burning fires. Simply add socially-distanced friends, and let the campfire tales begin! Endless Summer outdoor fire pit, $170, Staples Canada

(Related: 3 Tips to Help You Cope With Covid-19 Anxiety)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Chapters Indigo Shoe DryersPhoto: Chapters Indigo

Keep your toes toasty

Doubling up on socks can be uncomfortable—particularly if you’re planning to walk while you talk. For toasty toes (without the tight squeeze), simply toss these electric warmers into your boots a few hours before leaving the house. Once you’re back home, pop them right back in again: they’ll dry your now-damp footwear within hours. Indigo portable shoe/boot Dryer/warmer, $24.50, Chapters Indigo (Note: Curbside pickup only)

(Related: The 8 Best Winter Boots For Your Feet, According to Podiatrists)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Portable Campfire from Cabela'sPhoto: Cabela's

Build a tabletop bonfire

No room for an outdoor fire pit? No problem! This small-space-friendly campfire-in-a-tin is the next best thing to a full-blown bonfire. Just under a foot (20 cm) in diameter, the four-pound tin is filled with recycled soy wax and paper briquettes, which create an impressive flame with a five-hour burn time. To extinguish, simply replace the lid on the tin. Radiate Classic Portable Campfire, $40, Cabela’s

(Related: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Skin Smooth All Winter Long)

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Stay Warm During COVID-19 winter - Embr Warming BraceletPhoto: Embr

Trick your brain into feeling warmer

Sometimes, no matter how much you layer up, it simply isn’t enough to keep you comfy. Enter the Embr Wave, a smartwatch-like bracelet that, with the click of a button, creates a warming sensation on the sensitive skin on your wrist. That sensation in turn sends a signal to your brain to perceive temperature differently throughout your body. In no time, you’ll feel like you’re gripping a warm double-double—without coming anywhere near the Tim Horton’s drive-through. Embr Wave bracelet, $299 USD (approximately $380), Embr Labs

(As Embr’s makers note, this device is intended to ease momentary discomfort from cold, and isn’t suited to prolonged exposure. Here are 12 Things That Happen to Your Body When It’s Freezing Out)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Ugg Bluetooth EarmuffsPhoto: UGG

Make a sound investment

Combining the cozy warmth of fluffy shearling with Bluetooth headphone technology, these stylish earmuffs are the perfect accessory for a solo outdoor walk. Cue up the latest episode of that true crime podcast you and your best friend have been obsessing over so you can share your theories the next time you get together. UGG sheepskin Bluetooth earmuffs, $125, Nordstrom

(Related: 7 Ways to Cope with Loneliness While Staying Socially Distanced)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - The North Face GlovesPhoto: The North Face

Invest in touch-screen gloves (that actually work)

Having to choose between warm hands or actually being able to use your phone is a uniquely 21st century problem. Luckily, The North Face has devised a suitably 21st-century solution. These fleece-polyester gloves guard against winter’s chill, while enabling touch-screen use with all five fingers, so you can pull up that hilarious TikTok for your pals in complete comfort. ETip Recycled Glove, $50, The North Face 

(Related: 6 Guaranteed Ways to Change Up Pandemic Life)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Celestron Warmer ChargerPhoto: MEC

Don’t forget that your phone gets cold, too

No, you’re not just imagining it—your phone actually does lose its charge faster in the cold. Plan ahead by popping this two-in-one portable charger in your pocket: it’s equipped with two USB ports to recharge your devices on the go, while also serving as a hand-warmer when needed. Celestron ThermoCharge 10 warmer/charger, $70, MEC

(Related: Why You Feel “Off’ After Scrolling Through Your Phone or Working on a Laptop)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Outdoor BlanketPhoto: Rumpl

Bundle up in an outdoor blanket

Forget that ratty old polar fleece throw! This synthetic-down waterproof blanket is specifically designed for outdoor use, trapping your body’s own heat to keep you wonderfully warm in virtually any weather. Use the attached clip to wear it like a cape, or simply drape the blanket over your body while sitting by the fire. You can even stake the blanket to the ground to prevent it from blowing away. NanoLoft puffy blanket, from $200, Rumpl

(Related: 3 Resolutions to Make for Healthy Winter Skin)

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Stay Warm COVID-19 Winter - Heat A Seat Cushion from Canadian TirePhoto: Canadian Tire

Turn any chair into a hot seat

There are few things more enjoyable than getting into a chilly car and turning on the seat warmers. Recreate that feeling just about anywhere with this cleverly-designed cushion. Place it wherever you’d like to sit, and the patented insulation creates a thermal barrier that retains and reflects your own body heat. Heat-A-Seat cushion, $25, Canadian Tire

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest Canada