Penn State, your falls are stunning. Crisp, clear days, cloudless skies and radiant sunshine make for the most picturesque afternoon walks to class and game day tailgates. Transforming into brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red, your vast collection of leaves and foliage makes autumns in the Valley an experience unlike any other. Yes—your fall days are gorgeous, but Penn State, your winters are fierce.
For all of the out-of-state students out there—especially those from regions a little farther south—Penn State winters are a new and unexpected challenge to conquer. Thick, grey clouds dominate the sky. Days can go by without a glimpse of the sun. Sub-freezing temperatures, unwavering wind gusts and frequent morning downpours make these first few months of the new year a character-building experience, to say the least.
While a heavy winter parka is an absolute necessity, get ready for Penn State’s rather arctic conditions before heading back to school for the spring semester. Add these additional items to your packing list to conquer the cold in State College.
Waterproof Snow Boots
Boots are a given, but a pair of waterproof snow boots are mandatory. Navigating slushy sidewalks, snow-covered lawns, icy roads and puddles galore, you’re going to require some heavy-duty footwear to keep your feet warm and dry. A typical pair of UGG’s, riding boots, suede booties and running shoes will get soaked on snowy days in State College. Plus, ice is a huge concern when walking around downtown in the winter. A great pair of snow boots should have enough traction to help prevent slipping.
With dozens of styles to offer, SOREL is an excellent place to start shopping for waterproof snow boots if you’re in the market for a new pair. Check out this staple pair of curry colored boots for $129.95 on Amazon. You can shop this SOREL style here.
In VALLEY’s experience, regular cotton socks and “fluffy” socks are no match for Penn State’s chilliest days. Even when wearing your best pair of snow boots, a simple pair of no-show socks will leave your toes feeling a little frosty, so upgrade your sock drawer before heading back to school this winter. A pair of thermal socks are just what you need.
Heat Holders thermal socks are “seven times warmer than a basic cotton sock” and come in a variety of lengths, colors and styles. You can shop this blue pair of Heat Holders thermal socks in five additional colors here.
If you’ve ever ridden a bike on campus or walked to class while talking on the phone, you know exposed hands aren’t the way to go. Gloves are essential for maintaining warmth on your daily excursions outside.
While wearing something on your hands is better than nothing at all, try investing in a pair of insulating gloves (if you haven’t already) like this pair from The North Face pictured above. With a water-repellent finish and trademarked insulation, this pair of gloves will be perfect for cold, rainy days in State College. Plus, they are touchscreen compatible, so you can keep on snapping, liking and texting in the comfort of your gloves. This pair is currently running for $54.95 on Amazon. Click here to shop them in khaki and black.
On the coldest days in State College when the temperatures are in the tens and the wind seems to tear right through winter parkas, wearing your thickest sweater may not be enough to keep you warm. On these days, base layers are going to be your new best friend.
Also known as “Long Johns” or “thermal underwear,” base layer leggings and long sleeves will give you extra protection from the cold. You can easily slip base layer leggings under your favorite pair of jeans or sweat pants, and base layer tops under sweaters and sweatshirts. For an extra tip, tuck base layer tops into leggings, and tuck leggings into thermal socks for the most insulating effect.
Base layers come in a variety of grades and materials, so they can vary significantly in price depending on product features. However, this fleece-lined set of thermal base layers by ViCherub gets almost a 5-star rating on Amazon and is currently running for $24.99. You can shop all 11 colors here.
Finally, to put the cherry on top of your packing list, hand warmers are another great addition to your arsenal of winter gear. While you may not use them on the daily, you’ll be really happy to have them on days you’ll really need them. Whether you need to stand outside for an event or make the prolonged trek up Shortlidge in polar vortex-like conditions, sticking a pair of hand warmers in your coat pockets (or in your boots for that matter) will help keep you a little more toasty.
Shop HotHands hand warmers on Amazon. You can buy 40 pairs for $25.90.
Penn State winters are one for the books. Sub-freezing temperatures, frequent wind gusts and rainy conditions make for a one of a kind experience, but it is one you can prepare for! Let VALLEY know on Instagram how you’re prepping for winter days in the Valley. Tag us @VALLEYmag.