I thought I'd share a few things I've learned about playing in an Ice Bowl and snow in general.
Dress for success
Figuring out what to wear for a winter tournament is always a tricky thing. Successfully managing your body's temp can have a definite effect on your performance. Thoughts like "Damn I'm sweating to death" or "Damn I'm freezing my nards off" are just going to distract you.
There are five time zones you have to worry about for a winter tournament: Pre-game, Round 1, Lunch, Round 2, and Post-game.
- Pre-game: You have to think about the temperature when you first get there and you are standing around, checking in, and warming up. Getting out of your toasty car can be a bit shocking after a 2-hour drive. I usually overdress during pre-game so that I can warm up and loosen up faster. Hat, mittens, sweatshirt, jacket. For base layers, I wear a wicking performance shirt under a regular short-sleeve t-shirt.
- Round 1: Next you have to think about getting warmer as you start to play and as the sun climbs. Devens is pretty hilly and when you add in trudging through the snow, you will heat up fast. Wear layers that are easily packable or you will waste valuable mental and physical energy carrying around your jacket and trying to remember which hole you left it on. You don't need the distraction.
Since I know I will warm up pretty fast, I dress light and wear a sweatshirt and a vest if it is 30 and below, or just the sweatshirt if it's not. I also have a packable nylon jacket I can attach to my bag if there is a wind or breeze. I wear a knit hat or fleece tubey thing that I can wear as a hat or pull down around my neck. Baseball hats don't keep me as warm since I like to keep my ears covered.
- Lunch: The break presents new issues with your body rapidly cooling down as you sit around and refuel. Now's the time to change your socks and boots and maybe your shirt. It just feels good putting on fresh socks and a shirt. I usually put on a different sweatshirt and sit in the car to get warm.
- Round 2: Round 2 is the opposite of Round 1. It starts warm and then gradually cools down as the sun sets and the afternoon winds pick up. I wear the same thing and maybe bring along a vest. Overall, I just suck it up the last few holes since I'd rather be a little cold than carry around extra gear.
- Post-game: Time to change and get out of those wet socks, pants, and shirt. Put on something fresh and you'll feel better instantly. Don't forget to bring a second pair of shoes or sneakers. It's no fun putting warm dry feet into cold wet boots!
I usually wear ski pants. Besides keeping me warm, they repel water and snow and I can pretty much sit or lean against anything without having to worry about walking around with a wet butt. Since it was relatively warm yesterday, I experimented with regular nylon workout pants and they worked out well. They did get a little wet though.
I'd avoid jeans or any other cotton-based pants. They suck up moisture and by the end of the day you'll be carrying around a couple extra pounds of crusted, frozen snow on your ankles. Not good. Gaiters are also a good idea if you don't have ski pants.
Shoes and socks
Before I had my waterproof Seal Skins socks, I used to wear regular cotton or wool socks. Combined with a decent boot, it worked okay, but I always changed socks at lunch and after the event.
Boots are a no-brainer. Sneakers will suck up moisture and you'll slip and slide all over the place and be miserable. Keep your feet warm and the rest of you will stay warm and you'll play better and have more fun.
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Saturday looks relatively warm and sunny, so both sunglasses and sunscreen should be in your bag. With all that snow to reflect off, the sun can be brutal. You just won't notice until Sunday when you wake up with a sunburn and squinty eyes.
I hope you picked up a few helpful tidbits. Feel free to share any other suggestions by posting below.