Refrigerator and Freezer, Cold Store Clothing

The principles of keeping warm in an extremely cold indoor environment are the same as outdoors. The main difference is that conditions aren't going to change through the day, so flexibility is less important.

  • Insulation to keep warm is the obvious first priority.

  • Wicking away sweat is the less obvious second priority.

  • Durability is needed for a work environment.

  • Some flexibility is useful to dump excess heat from exertion.

Base Layers

Surprising as it sounds, getting rid of sweat is very important when dressing for a cold environment. A loss of moisture from your skin happens almost continually and in most circumstances is not noticeable as it passes through your clothes and evaporates into the air. With thick insulating clothing on, this moisture can get trapped meaning it can build up and become clammy and uncomfortable, even dangerous by reducing the insulating properties of your clothing. These effects are even more pronounced if you begin to sweat more due to movement and work.

The answer is to wear a base layer that has good insulation properties and will also wick sweat away quickly and effectively. Some synthetics and merino wool are the best materials here, avoid cotton, the worst choice for a base layer in cold conditions, not only does it not insulate well but it hangs on to moisture.

Merino Wool - Really delivers on performance. Merino wool garments deliver significant warmth with light weight and odor resistance, while more expensive they are the gold standard here.
Men's merino | Women's merino

Synthetics - Commonly polyester and polypropylene as proprietary versions (brand names) of generic fabrics. Synthetics wick sweat away from the skin very effectively and insulate well, they dry fast but aren't not so good at being odor resistant, they may be treated to make them more so.
Men's synthetic | Women's synthetic

Outer Layer
Jackets, Pants, Bibs, Coveralls, Overalls, Dungarees

Getting the biggest, warmest jacket you can isn't always the best thing to do. Separate jacket and pants work well but there is the possibility of exposure of the midriff during bending and stretching movements. Bibs or dungarees are higher to avoid this and that extra front and possibly back panel give valuable additional insulation, they are also easily taken off again which helps when emerging into the warm sunshine! All-in-one coveralls give the best insulation if all other factors are the same and may be the best choice for less active jobs.

There isn't a single best answer for everyone and there are plenty of options to find what works best for you. This kind of clothing is usually sized loose rather than tight to give space for an additional layers underneath.

Mid Layer/s

The most variable layer between the base and outer allows for additional finer tuning of the level of insulation for different jobs and to personal preference. It can also be the outer layer alone or with another insulating layer underneath, two (or three) thin layers can be warmer than one thicker one while being less bulky and more versatile with it. As with the base layer avoid cotton, heavy cotton sweatshirts might seem a good idea but they are less effective than fleece or synthetic padded insulation, they hang on to sweat and become clammy and less effective in the process.


Gloves are a necessity. Mittens are always warmer than gloves if made of the same material though mean a lot less dexterity. If you need to be able to do fine operations with your hands a thin pair of gloves sometimes known as "liners" will enable you to do most things, they are widely available with a touch-screen finger tip so you can keep them on all the time. If it's very cold, a pair of over-mittens can go on top of the gloves when you've done what you need to with them so you don't need swap over. Fingerless gloves are available in various designs, I've never got on with these though some people do, they introduce the dangerous possibility of touching freezing metal with bare fingers which is less likely with thin dexterous gloves.

Glove liners, lightweight gloves  |  Winter work gloves


Boots are essential in cold conditions as they cover the ankles so reducing heat loss at a thinly insulated region. Thick insulated soles are as important as insulated uppers as a lot of heat can be lost through the only part of our body in contact with the frigid ground. Thermal insoles can be added to boots to boost the insulation from the ground. Leather is preferred as it is breathable, toe caps should be composite rather than steel which is much colder.



Cotton is not good for socks in the cold. Sock liners made from synthetic materials are much better because they are very good at wicking sweat away which is what cotton doesn't do. Put a pair of thicker wool or acrylic socks over the top. With good boots you won't need multiple pairs of socks and it's just more to take off again when you come out.


A must in a cold conditions. A lot of heat is lost through the head and hats provide the highest amount of heat retention bang for the buck. I prefer synthetic materials over wool for hats for comfort and fit, less itchy and less likely to go out of shape. A clean, plain shape like a beanie is very effective and should reach over the ears. Helmet liners are also available if you need to wear one as well and balaclavas work well, they can be rolled up to work as a hat or pulled down to cover the face and neck.


balaclava Wind-Resistant Full Face Balaclava
Wear as a hat, balaclava or neck gaiter, a versatile garment for cold protection
acrylic hat
Acrylic hats

Lots of variety and generally inexpensive, thinsulate is a warmer material at a similar price though less hard wearing.
face mask
Face mask hats

Balaclava / hat / hood that covers the lower part of the face too
Active beanies and liners

Low profile for use during activity or to fit under a helmet.